DemDaily: Our Future First Lady

September 1, 2020

The Democratic Convention was the first introduction for many Americans to our future First Lady, Dr. Jill Giacoppa Biden.

Beau and Hunter to Joe Biden: "We think it's time we marry Jill"

Although she served as Second Lady of the United States for eight years, the unintended political veteran has preferred to stay in the background, focusing on her career as an educator, non-profit executive and mother.

Born in New Jersey and raised in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, Jill BIden was one of five daughters born to Donald Jacobs, a savings and loan executive and Bonny Jean Jacobs, a homemaker. She proudly claims her Italian heritage as Giacoppa, her original family name before it was anglicized by her grandfather.

She graduated from Upper Moreland High School in 1969 and was married from 1970 to 1975 to Bill Stevenson, who opened the famous Stone Balloon college bar in Newark, Delaware during their marriage.

Former colleagues call Biden "consistently warm and wonderful"..."funny and irreverent." (David Hernandez)

Jill met Senator Joe Biden, nine years her senior, on a blind date set up by Joe's brother Frank in 1975. Biden was a widower with two young sons who lost his wife and baby daughter in a car accident three years earlier. Wary of entering the public spotlight, she declined his proposal five times before they were married in in 1977.

"Educaton is possibility set in motion" -- Jill Biden

After a few years Biden returned to the classroom, teaching high school English and adolescents with emotional disabilities. In 1987, she received her second graduate degree, in English from Villanova University.

Educator and Advocate
Jill, who had earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware in 1975, finished her Master's degree in Education from West Chester State College, while pregnant with their daughter Ashley, who was born in 1981.

Jill with Joe Biden at 2009 swearing in as Vice President (AP)

In 1993, after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, Biden started the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware, which has educated thousands of high school girls about the importance of early detection of breast cancer.

In 2007, Biden co-founded Book Buddies, which provides books for low-income children. An avid health advocate, she runs 25 miles a week and ran in the Marine Corps Marathon.

Under her maiden name of Jill Jacobs, she served as an English professor at Delaware Technical & Community College from 1993 through 2008, while earning her doctoral degree in education from the University of Delaware -- just one year before her husband was sworn in as Vice President of the United States.

"Sometimes your day is a jigsaw puzzle that never seems to get completed.... But no matter where life takes you, as of today you are a master of a craft, a shipbuilder and a leader, and no one can take that away from you." -- Jill Biden to graduating class, Newport News Apprentice School

Second First Lady
Throughout her eight-year tenure as Second First Lady, Biden continued to teach English full-time at North Virginia Community College, while making education one of her top initiatives.

Of Michelle Obama, Biden said "We leaned on one another"

* In 2010, she hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama and highlighted the importance of community colleges to America's future with the 2012 Community College to Career bus tour.

* A military mom, Biden became involved with Delaware Boots on the Ground, which helps families during times of military deployment. With First Lady Michelle Obama she also launched Joining Forces to provide educational, health and wellness, and employment resources to military personnel and their families.

* Biden's 2012 children's book, Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops, which tells the story of a military family's experience with deployment through the eyes of Dr. Biden's granddaughter, Natalie, during the year her father, Beau, was deployed to Iraq.

* She traveled abroad as an advocate for the rights and welfare of girls and women in Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone. Biden's focus on women's educational opportunities included a tour of Asia, and she also served as a US representative to announce food aid to Malawi.

"Cancer has been a dark thread that has run throughout my life. It's taken my friends, my parents. My beautiful son."

Unwavering Faith
In May of 2015, at the age of 46, the Biden's son Beau passed away from brain cancer. The tragedy was the major factor in Joe's decision not to run for president in 2016.

In 2017, the Bidens launched The Biden Foundation to continue the work they began under the Obama administration, with a focus on foreign policy, community colleges and military families, equality, strengthening the middle class, and Joe's Moonshot initiative to cure cancer.

"How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole. With love and understanding - and with small acts of compassion. With bravery. With unwavering faith." -- Jill Biden, 2020 Democratic Convention

Jill Biden: "Teaching is not what I do. It's who I am"

Throughout, Dr. Biden continued as a professor at NOVA, while also writing her memoir, Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself, released in 2019.

She reluctantly took a leave of absence from teaching to campaign fulltime with Joe after he announced his candidacy for President of the United States on April of 2019.

Although heavily involved in her husband's campaign, on the trail and as an advisor, she took training courses in online teaching after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has indicated that she will continue teaching if her husband is elected.

In June 2020 she published the children's book Joey: The Story of Joe Biden, which portrayed him as having been "brave and adventurous" as a child despite having a stutter and being bullied.

Jill Biden's Convention Speech! Click

Dr. Biden's National Back-To-School Swing
Today, Dr. Jill Biden began a multi-week virtual and in-person "Back-to-School Tour," beginning in Delaware and going through eight battleground states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Minnesota, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Biden CampaignGet to Know Jill Biden

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Sources: Biography, ObamaWhiteHouseArchives, CNN, Vogue, LATimes, Biden Campaign

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