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Erin Ely

"I'm an instigator," says Erin Ely, wearing a gold lamé jacket and jewelry befitting her status as organizer for the local chapter of Billionaires for Bush. "I get things started." Back in her home town of Albuquerque, where she played soccer with men, Ely instigated a women's soccer league that prospers still, 26 years after her departure. She followed a childhood friend to Oregon, landed a forestry degree and a husband (Doug Bielefeldt) at OSU, and worked for the Forest Service until 1990, when their first child was born. Ely began playing marimba with Kutsinira while she home-schooled her kids Locke and Maggie in Fall Creek. She instigated grant-writing programs for Kutsinira and later for the Village School after the family moved to Eugene in '02. "I've probably raised over $150,000 in grants," she says. "If I'm part of a group, I think I should contribute to it." In 2004, Ely worked on the Kerry campaign and "billionaired" on the side. "When President Bush came to Central Point, we rented a limo and jumped out," she says. "People got mad at us." Learn how to join the fun at billionairesforbush.com.

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 3 August 2006

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