Alexandria Ruden is a dedicated and compassionate advocate for domestic violence survivors who empowers survivors through legal representation and advocacy. With an impressive career spanning over four decades at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, she has exclusively dedicated her career to championing the rights and safety of domestic violence survivors.

Ruden began her journey in domestic violence law shortly after the Domestic Violence Act was passed in Ohio in 1979. As a young attorney practicing at a free medical clinic, Ruden encountered clients who were often involved in domestic violence situations, so when The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland hired her in 1984 to start its domestic violence practice, she was up for the challenge.

“I enjoyed helping people and trying to create a holistic vision for their lives,” Ruden said.

Over the ensuing years, in addition to providing direct representation to low-income domestic violence survivors seeking divorces and civil protection orders, Ruden has also become a widely respected expert in domestic violence law, advocating for change and further protections in the still-emerging area of law.

“We pushed the boundaries of the law by making the concerns of domestic violence survivors more visible and giving them a voice in the process,” she said.

In addition to her advocacy efforts, Ruden helped to establish the Domestic Violence Department at the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court and co-authored the Ohio Domestic Violence Law book with Judge Ronald Adrine. She has served on several committees, including the Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence at the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Statewide Family Violence Prevention General Advisory Board, and the Cuyahoga County Domestic Violence Task Force. She is also a national trainer on domestic violence and its intersection with other areas of the law and a mentor to countless young attorneys and law students.

Reflecting on her incredible career, Ruden said that she always prioritizes her client’s needs, using her experience representing survivors as a guide for her legal and advocacy efforts. She cites being able to help clients escape abusive situations and attain safety, stability, and brighter futures as the ultimate reward.

“If I walk into a store and see a former client who says, ‘Hi, Ms. Ruden, you represented me in my divorce from my husband and helped me get out of my domestic violence situation. Thanks to you, I went back to school, and I was able to get my GED and my college degree. I’ve been able to help my children break that cycle of violence. And it’s thanks to you, really.’ If I had to list my greatest accomplishment, that would be it.”

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A gift to the Foundation supports Ohio’s legal aids in helping survivors obtain safety and security.