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About Elizabeth M. Boggs, PhD

April 5, 1913 - January 27, 1996

Parent, Internationally Renowned Policy Maker, and Advocate for People with Developmental Disabilities

Elizabeth M. BoggsElizabeth Monroe Boggs was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Elizabeth McNairy Monroe and Frank Adair Monroe, Jr. Her brothers, Allyn Adair Monroe and Willis Lathrop Monroe, died in 1984 and 1920, respectively. In 1941, Elizabeth married Fitzhugh Boggs (1911-1971). Their son, Jonathan David Boggs, was born in 1945 and resided at Hunterdon Developmental Center in Clinton, New Jersey, near where Elizabeth lived in Hampton, New Jersey. David passed away in 2000.

In 1935, Elizabeth graduated from Bryn Mawr College, summa cum laude, with distinction in Mathematics. She earned a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from Cambridge University, England, in 1941. Subsequently, Elizabeth received honorary degrees from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Kean College, and The Ohio State University.


With David’s birth in 1945, Elizabeth shifted her focus from the career in Mathematics for which she had prepared, to advocacy and the development of public policy for people with disabilities. A founder of the National Association for Retarded Children, Elizabeth served as the Association’s first woman President. Throughout her career, she had continually been involved with The Arc’s Governmental Affairs Committee and its activities.


Elizabeth’s involvements and contributions were far-ranging. She was appointed to President Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation and was Vice-Chair of its Task Force on the Law, 1961-1963, and subsequently on the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation. Working with the International League of Societies for the Mentally Handicapped, she was a principal author of the United Nations Declaration of General and Special Rights of the Mentally Retarded. With Justin Dart, Elizabeth co-chaired the congressionally appointed Task Force on Rights and Empowerment of People with Disabilities, an important impetus to the development of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Elizabeth served on the SSI Modernization Project and, at the time of her death, was serving on the Social Security Administration’s Task Force on Representative Payees.


Elizabeth’s many awards and recognitions include The Arc of New Jersey’s Humanitarian Award, the Kennedy International Award for Leadership, the Distinguished Public Service Award HEW, the Distinguished Service Award UCPA, the Wallace Wallin Award CEC, and the N. Neal Pike Prize for Service to People with Disabilities. She was also recognized by the American Association of University Affiliated Programs, The Arc-US, and the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. Elizabeth was a Life Fellow of AAMR, and an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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