Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If nothing else, the members of the North Carolina Technology Association remember their own and the organization’s roots. So the current leaders of the state’s largest technology business organization recognize the need to honor the founding CEO of their group, someone whose impact will be felt across her native state for decades to come.

Betsy Justus, who lost a long battle against cancer in July, will be honored posthumously with NCTA’s “Outstanding Achievement Award” at its annual 21 Awards banquet in November.

If Betsy were alive, she would offer her trademark smile and probably say: “You shouldn’t have” or “I don’t deserve it. Pick someone else.”

Her modesty, her desire to put objectives and achievement ahead of personal gratification, would have required such a humble response.

But those who knew her, and those who are aware of what she achieved in the political (a basketball playing female Republican long before someone of more recent public ardor and criticism) as well as technology (building NCTA from the ground floor to a statewide organization that lobbies very effectively in Raleigh) arenas know the honor is richly deserved.

Former Gov. Jim Martin, who worked closely with Justus in his administration, will participate in the presentation of the honor.

Further, NCTA also is raising funds to launch a scholarship that will be named after her.

The Betsy Y. Justus NCTA Founder’s Scholarship will be presented to students pursuing STEM careers – young people who want to learn more about science, technology, engineering and math. NCTA has already raised more than $8,000 and hopes to have $10,000 in hand by the 21 Awards event. (Read here for more details about the scholarship.)

NCTA honored Betsy with a short obituary that is a reminder of her impact:

“Betsy was a remarkable businesswoman and a pioneer in public leadership and entrepreneurial growth in North Carolina. Betsy was the first woman Chair of the State of North Carolina Employment Security Commission from 1987 – 1990 and went on to serve as the first woman Secretary for the NC Department of Revenue from 1990-1993. As Secretary, she represented the state on several national committees and was responsible for enforcing state tax laws and policy.

“In March 1993 Betsy was the inaugural founder and President of the North Carolina Electronics and Information Technologies Association (now NCTA) the State’s premier technology association. Under her leadership the association grew a membership base and public policy infrastructure that laid the foundation for the technology industry to grow and prosper in North Carolina.

“Her remarkable legacy of public service, business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit, helped numerous companies, organizations and individuals thrive and succeed in their respective missions.

“In 1998 she left NCTA to work for ACS Enterprise Solutions as Sr. Vice President of Business Development. Later Betsy joined the executive team at Alphanumeric System where she served as Vice President and remained in that position until her death.”

The Skinny is very proud of the fact that Betsy was a friend as well as a colleague. So here’s a tip of the hat to NCTA for making two very wise decisions.

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