Jill Biden

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Jill Biden
Jill Biden official portrait 2.jpg
Official portrait, December 2012
Second Lady of the United States
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 20, 2009
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Lynne Cheney
Personal details
Born Jill Tracy Jacobs
(1951-06-03) June 3, 1951 (age 63)
Hammonton, New Jersey, U.S
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Bill Stevenson (1970–1976)
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (1977–present)
Children Ashley Biden
Beau Biden (stepson)
Hunter Biden (stepson)
Alma mater University of Delaware (Ed.D.)
West Chester University (M.Ed.)
Villanova University (M.A.)
University of Delaware (B.A.)
Occupation Educator
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]
Signature

Jill Tracy Biden (née Jacobs, previously Stevenson; born June 3, 1951) is an American educator and, as the wife of the 47th and current U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is the Second Lady of the United States.

She was born in Hammonton, New Jersey, and grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. She married Joe Biden in 1977 and became stepmother to his two young sons from his first marriage, Beau and Hunter, whose mother and baby sister died in a car accident. Joe and Jill Biden have a daughter, Ashley, born in 1981.

Jill Biden has a bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware, master's degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University and a doctoral degree from the University of Delaware. She taught English and reading in high schools for 13 years, and also taught adolescents with emotional disabilities at a psychiatric hospital. From 1993 to 2008, she was an English and writing instructor at Delaware Technical & Community College. Since 2009, she has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College and is thought to be the first Second Lady to hold a paying job while her husband is Vice President. She is the founder of the Biden Breast Health Initiative non-profit organization, co-founded the Book Buddies program, is active in Delaware Boots on the Ground, and co-founded Joining Forces with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Early life[edit]

Jill Tracy Jacobs was born in Hammonton, New Jersey on June 3, 1951.[2][3] Moving several times while very young, she and her four younger sisters spent the majority of their childhood in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.[4][5] Her father, Donald C. Jacobs (1927–1999),[6] was a bank teller who became head of a savings and loan in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia.[7] His family name had originally been Giacoppa before her Italian grandfather anglicized it.[7][8] Her mother, Bonny Jean (Godfrey) Jacobs (1930–2008),[4] was a homemaker.[6] The family was not particularly religious, but in ninth grade, Jacobs independently took classes in order to join the Presbyterian church.[7]

Jacobs always intended to have her own career.[9] She began working at age 15, which included waitressing at the Jersey Shore.[7][9] She attended Upper Moreland High School, where she was somewhat rebellious and enjoyed her social life, but always liked English class.[10] She graduated in 1969.[11]

Education and career, marriage and family[edit]

Further information: Biden family

Jacobs enrolled in a junior college in Pennsylvania to study fashion merchandising, but soon found it unsatisfying.[7] She married Bill Stevenson, a former college football player, in February 1970.[12] Within a couple of years he opened the Stone Balloon in Newark, Delaware, near the University of Delaware.[12] It became one of the most successful college bars in the nation.[12]

She enrolled at the University of Delaware, where she declared English as her major.[7] She then took a year off from college and did some modelling work for a local agency in Wilmington.[7][12] She and Stevenson drifted apart.[12]

Subsequently, she returned to college and met Senator Joe Biden as a senior at Delaware in March 1975.[9] They met on a blind date set up by Joe's brother, though Biden had seen her photograph in a local advertisement.[9] She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Delaware later in 1975.[13][14] She began her career teaching high school English.[9] Meanwhile, she was going through turbulent divorce proceedings with Stevenson; the court case ended in 1976, with her not getting the half-share in the Stone Balloon she had wanted.[12]

Jill and Joe Biden meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in April 1980

She and Joe Biden were married on June 17, 1977, at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City.[3][9] This was four and a half years after his first wife and infant daughter died in a motor vehicle accident;[3] Joe had proposed several times before she accepted, hesitant to take on the commitment of raising his two young sons who had survived the accident.[7] She continued to teach and then, while pregnant, received a Master of Education with a specialty in Reading from West Chester University in 1981.[7][13][15] The Bidens' daughter Ashley Blazer was born on June 8, 1981,[16] and Jill stopped working for two years while raising the three children.[17]

She then returned to work, teaching English, acting as a reading specialist, and teaching history to emotionally disturbed students.[9] She taught in the adolescent program at the Rockford Center psychiatric hospital for five years in the 1980s.[3][7] In 1987, Biden received a second Master of Arts degree, this one in English from Villanova University.[3][13] During her husband's 1988 bid for the Presidency, she said she would continue her job of teaching emotionally disturbed children even if she became First Lady.[18] In all, she spent 13 years teaching in public high school,[9] including 3 years at Claymont High School.[7]

From 1993 through 2008, Biden was an instructor at the Stanton/Wilmington campus of Delaware Technical & Community College,[13][19][20] where she taught English composition and remedial writing, with an emphasis on instilling confidence in students.[19][21] She has said of teaching at a community college, "I feel like I can make a greater difference in their lives. I just love that population. It just feels really comfortable to me. I love the women who are coming back to school and getting their degrees, because they're so focused."[19]

Biden is president of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, a nonprofit organization begun in 1993 that provides educational breast health awareness programs free of charge to schools and other groups in the state of Delaware.[22][23] In the following 15 years, the organization informed more than 7,000 high school girls about proper breast health.[24] In 2007, Biden helped found Book Buddies, which provides books for low-income children,[24] and has been very active in Delaware Boots on the Ground, an organization that supports military families.[21] She runs five miles, five times a week, and she has run in the Marine Corps Marathon.[9]

Biden later returned to school for her doctoral degree, studying under her birth name, Jill Jacobs.[17] In January 2007, at age 55, she received a Doctor of Education in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.[3][24][25][26] Her dissertation, Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students' Needs, was published under the name Jill Jacobs-Biden.[25]

Role in 2008 presidential campaign[edit]

Biden at the August 2008 announcement of her husband becoming Barack Obama's running mate

Following George W. Bush's reelection in 2004, she urged her husband to run again for President,[20] later saying: "I literally wore black for a week. I just could not believe that he won, because I felt that things were already so bad. I was so against the [Iraq War]. And I said to Joe, 'You've got to change this, you have to change this.'"[19] During Joe Biden's 2008 campaign to be the Democratic nominee, she continued to teach during the week and would join him for campaigning on weekends.[20] She said that she would have taken an activist role in addressing education as her chief focus of concern as a potential First Lady.[27] She also said that she was basically apolitical and would not seek inclusion in Cabinet meetings.[20]

Once her husband was selected as the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's running mate, she began campaigning again. She wore a Blue Star Mothers Club pin in recognition of Beau Biden's deployment to Iraq.[19] She was not a polished political speaker, but was able to establish a connection with the audience.[19] She also made some joint appearances with Michelle Obama.[28] Throughout the time her husband was running for vice president, Jill Biden continued to teach four days a week at Delaware Technical & Community College during the fall 2008 semester, and then campaigned over the long weekend, while grading class papers on the campaign bus.[4][19][29]

Second Lady of the United States[edit]

Jill and Joe Biden dancing at the President Obama Home States Ball, January 20, 2009; the gown was by Reem Acra
Official portrait, March 2009

Despite moving to Number One Observatory Circle (the vice presidential residence in Washington) as Second Lady of the United States, Biden intended to keep teaching at a Washington-area community college, and several of them recruited her.[30][31][32] In January 2009, she began teaching two English courses as an adjunct professor at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), the second largest community college in the nation.[26][33] It has been rare for Second Ladies to work while their spouses serve as Vice President,[28][31] and Biden is thought to be the first Second Lady to hold a paying job while her husband is Vice President.[26] Biden planned to be a public advocate for the importance of community colleges and to advise the Obama administration on issues related to them.[33] In White House announcements and by her preference, she is referred to as "Dr. Jill Biden".[26][34]

Catherine Russell, a former adviser to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was named Biden's chief of staff for her Second Lady role.[35] Courtney O’Donnell, a former spokesperson for Howard Dean and Elizabeth Edwards, was named her communications director[36] and Kirsten White, a lawyer at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, her policy director.[37] As Second Lady, Biden has a staff of eight overall and occupies a corner suite in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.[34]

On The Oprah Winfrey Show just before the inauguration, Jill Biden said that Barack Obama had offered her husband either the Vice-Presidency or the position of U.S. Secretary of State.[38][39] However, Joe Biden's spokesperson stated that Biden had only been offered one job by Obama.[39] In May 2009, Obama announced that Biden would be in charge of an initiative to raise awareness about the value of community colleges.[40]

In June 2009, Biden gave the commencement address at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York,[41] and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the City University of New York.[42] Biden continued teaching two English reading and writing classes at NOVA in fall 2009.[43] In January 2010, she gave the commencement speech at the University of Delaware's winter commencement, the first such address by her at a major university.[44] In August 2010, Biden appeared as herself in an episode of Lifetime's Army Wives, making it part of her campaign to raise awareness of military families.[45]

In April 2011, she and Michelle Obama founded a national initiative, Joining Forces, to showcase the needs of U.S. military families.[46][47] In September 2011, Biden lent her support to USAID's FWD campaign, a push for awareness surrounding the deadly famine, war, and drought affecting over 13 million people in the Horn of Africa.[48] She continued to teach at NOVA,[49] and by 2011 held a permanent position as an associate professor, teaching three English and writing composition courses two days per week.[50] Her position there was as normal as she could make it, sharing a cubicle with another teacher, holding regular office hours for students, and trying to get her accompanying Secret Service agents to dress as unobviously as possible.[50] Her life with her husband at Number One Observatory Circle tended towards the informal and was centered around family and their nearby grandchildren.[50] In June 2012, she published a children's book, Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops, based around her stepson's deployment.[51] The same month, the Bidens' daughter Ashley, a social worker and staffer at the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families, was married.[52]

In the 2012 U.S. presidential election, in which her husband was running for re-election as vice president, Biden played a modest role.[51] She did not cut back on her teaching schedule and made few solo campaign appearances.[51] This reflected her continuing distaste for both politics and public speaking, even though the Obama campaign considered her valuable in connecting to military families, teachers, and women.[51] Following the re-election of Obama and her husband on November 6, 2012, Biden began a second term as second lady. She wore a silk blue gown by Vera Wang when she appeared at the inaugural balls in January 2013.[53]

During her second term, Biden continued to be involved with supporting military personnel, including staging multiple visits to the Center for the Intrepid rehabilitation facility for amputees and attending the inaugural Invictus Games in London.[54] During the 2014 U.S. midterm Congressional elections she was active in campaigning for a number of Democratic candidates, including high-profile contests such as Mark Udall in Colorado and Michelle Nunn in Georgia.[55][56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Meet the Bidens: Inauguration 2009". The Washington Post. January 20, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  2. ^ "RT @whitehouse Happy birthday, @DrBiden! - Take note @Wikipedia!". The White House/Twitter. June 3, 2013.  The date of June 5 given in this 2009 Washington Post piece previously used in this article is incorrect.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Farrell, Joelle (August 27, 2008). "Colleagues see a caring, giving Jill Biden". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b c Nathans, Aaron (October 6, 2008). "Joe Biden's mother-in-law dies at 78" (fee required). The News Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Meet Dr. Jill Biden". Progress Ohio.org. Retrieved August 24, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b Sama, Dominic (June 9, 1999). "Donald C. Jacobs, 72; Ran Savings And Loan In Phila.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Van Meter, Jonathan (November 2008). "All the Vice-President's Women". Vogue. Retrieved August 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ Argetsinger, Amy and Roberts, Roxanne (June 1, 2009). "Obamas' Chow: Politically Palatable". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 1, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i Seelye, Katharine Q. (August 24, 2008). "Jill Biden Heads Toward Life in the Spotlight". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2008. 
  10. ^ Tasker, Annie (November 7, 2008). "Jill Biden getting attention". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved November 7, 2008. [dead link]
  11. ^ Cosentino, Dom (August 28, 2008). "Upper Moreland grad Jill Biden in campaign limelight". Bucks County Courier Times. Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Markovetz, Jessie (November 21, 2006). "Behind the Stone Balloon: Part 1". The Review (University of Delaware). Archived from the original on February 13, 2010. Retrieved July 28, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Administrative, Instructional, and Student Services Personnel". Delaware Technical & Community College. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  14. ^ Thomas, Neil (November 5, 2008). "University of Delaware plays major role in national election". University of Delaware. Retrieved January 24, 2009. 
  15. ^ Stern, Frank (October 20, 2008). "The Quad talks with Jill Biden". The Quad. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Iowa Caucuses '08: Joe Biden: Timeline". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved February 4, 2009. [dead link]
  17. ^ a b Hale, Charlotte (March 19, 2007). "Determined to stay in school" (fee required). The News Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2008. 
  18. ^ Caroli, Betty Boyd (2003). First Ladies: From Martha Washington to Laura Bush. Oxford University Press. p. 297. ISBN 0-19-516676-0. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Copeland, Libby (October 23, 2008). "Campaign Curriculum". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2008. 
  20. ^ a b c d Norris, Michelle (January 1, 2008). "Presidential Candidates' Spouses: Jill Biden". All Things Considered (NPR). Retrieved August 26, 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Gaouette, Nicole (August 27, 2008). "Jill Biden has a low-key appeal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 1, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2008. 
  22. ^ Churnin, Nancy (August 23, 2008). "Obama's VP pick, Joe Biden, could heighten breast cancer awareness". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  23. ^ "About Us". Biden Breast Health Initiative. Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  24. ^ a b c "Dr. Jill Biden". The White House. Retrieved January 22, 2009. 
  25. ^ a b Jacobs-Biden, Jill (2006). Student Retention at the Community College: Meeting Students' Needs (fee required, partial preview available). University of Delaware. 
  26. ^ a b c d Abcarian, Robin (February 2, 2009). "Jill Biden, doctor of education, is back in class". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 2, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Democrat Candidate Spouses: Jill Biden". Time. September 13, 2007. Retrieved August 23, 2008. 
  28. ^ a b Lee, Carol E. (November 27, 2008). "Jill Biden: Untraditional, unapologetic". The Politico. Retrieved November 28, 2008. 
  29. ^ Pleming, Sue (November 3, 2008). "Jill Biden, teacher who avoids 'Washington scene'". Reuters. Retrieved November 6, 2008. 
  30. ^ Evans, Heidi (December 28, 2008). "From a blind date to second lady, Jill Biden's coming into her own". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  31. ^ a b Bosman, Julie (November 21, 2008). "'Amtrak Joe' No More". The New York Times. Retrieved November 25, 2008. 
  32. ^ "Campuses Crusade to Secure Prof. Biden". The Washington Post. January 16, 2009. Retrieved January 16, 2009. 
  33. ^ a b Rucker, Philip (January 27, 2009). "Jill Biden Returns to the Classroom". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  34. ^ a b Lee, Carol E. (June 12, 2009). "Dr. Jill Biden's public debut". The Politico. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  35. ^ Rucker, Philip (November 25, 2008). "Biden Beefs Up Staff". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2008. 
  36. ^ Wagman, Jake (January 6, 2009). "St. Louis native will speak for Jill Biden". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 6, 2009. [dead link]
  37. ^ "Vice President Biden announces key staff appointments". Thaindian News. BNO News. March 24, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2009. 
  38. ^ "Jill Biden lets slip secret about Joe". Star Tribune (Minneapolis). January 19, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  39. ^ a b Seelye, Katharine Q. (January 19, 2009). "The Bidens on Oprah". The New York Times. Retrieved January 20, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Obama says job losses sobering, but sees progress". Agence France-Presse. May 8, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2009. 
  41. ^ Saltonstall, David (June 12, 2009). "Second Lady Jill Biden captivates Kingsborough Community College students". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Dr. Jill Biden to Deliver Commencement Address at Kingsborough Community College" (Press release). PRNewswire. June 4, 2009. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  43. ^ Sweet, Lynn (September 3, 2009). "Jill Biden, Captain of the Vice Squad". Politics Daily. Retrieved September 8, 2009. 
  44. ^ "Jill Biden Speaks to UD Grads". WBOC-TV. Associated Press. January 9, 2010. Retrieved January 17, 2010. 
  45. ^ Wlach, Jen; Ferran, Lee (August 6, 2010). "Second Lady Jill Biden's Acting Debut to Help Military Families". Good Morning America (ABC News). Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  46. ^ Bradley, Tahman (April 9, 2011). "Michelle Obama, Jill Biden & Celebrities Highlight the Needs of Military Families". Political Punch (ABC News). Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  47. ^ "About Joining Forces". The White House. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  48. ^ "Dr. Jill Biden Joins USAID and Ad Council to Debut FWD Campaign for the Crisis in the Horn of Africa" (Press release). PR Newswire. October 26, 2011. 
  49. ^ "Biden Visits Japanese Embassy". Time. March 22, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  50. ^ a b c Parnes, Amie (June 28, 2011). "Joe and Jill Biden's 'regular' lives". Politico. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  51. ^ a b c d Slack, Donovan (October 1, 2012). "Jill Biden tiptoes into 2012 election". Politico. 
  52. ^ "Ashley Biden and Howard Krein". The New York Times. June 3, 2012. p. ST15. 
  53. ^ Boyle, Louise; Warren, Lydia (January 23, 2013). "Inside the White House after-party: How the President took part in a Gangnam Style dance off and Michelle grooved to 'Single Ladies' at celebrity-packed bash". Daily Mail. 
  54. ^ Sanchez, Elaine (October 23, 2014). "Dr. Biden Thanks Wounded Troops, Caregivers in San Antonio". U.S. Department of Defense. 
  55. ^ "Jill Biden tries to fire up Democrats for Udall". KUSA. Associated Press. November 1, 2014. 
  56. ^ Malloy, Daniel (October 16, 2014). "Jill Biden to raise money for, campaign with Michelle Nunn". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lynne Cheney
Second Lady of the United States
2009–present
Incumbent