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Food & Mood Group

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Johnny Prasad
Johnny Prasad

The First Lady

In the spring of 2021, Dr. Biden announced the next phase and priorities of Joining Forces, her White House initiative to support military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors. In her first two years, she visited 24 military installations; worked with Joining Forces partners to support over 30 events with the military-connected community; and launched an interagency working group with the National Security Council, which secured over 80 commitments and proposals across the federal government to support military families. Through her Joining Forces work, she has advocated for: increased economic opportunities for military spouses; additional educational programming and support for military children; more focus on health and wellness in the military community; and improved resources for caregivers and survivors, including military and veteran children in caregiving homes.

The First Lady

While serving as First Lady, Dr. Biden continued teaching English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has been a professor since 2009. She is the first presidential spouse to maintain an independent career outside of the White House.

First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is a lawyer, writer, and the wife of the 44th and current President, Barack Obama. She is the first African-American First Lady of the United States. Through her four main initiatives, she has become a role model for women and an advocate for healthy families, service members and their families, higher education, and international adolescent girls education.

In 1996, Mrs. Obama joined the University of Chicago with a vision of bringing campus and community together. As Associate Dean of Student Services, she developed the university's first community service program, and under her leadership as Vice President of Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center, volunteerism skyrocketed.

Mrs. Cooper is currently working toward her goal to visit all 100 counties in North Carolina. Her favorite part of being first lady is the unique opportunity to explore North Carolina and spend time with people everywhere she goes.

The second youngest of four children, Kathryn grew up in Jamestown, North Dakota, where her family was in the John Deere business for over 35 years. She held her first job at the family business working in the parts department. She graduated with honors from Jamestown High School, where she was involved in student council, choir, varsity tennis, and cheerleading.

Over 50 women have held the role of First Lady as of today. However, not all those who have served as a first lady were spouses to the presidents. If the president was a bachelor or widower, or if his wife was unable or unwilling to perform the role, other female relatives or friends were called upon to carry out the first lady's official duties; thus, there have been more first ladies than presidents. For more information and biographies on each of the first ladies, visit the National First Ladies Library.

First lady Michelle Obama tends to the presidential garden during the third annual White House kitchen garden fall harvest in October 2011. The last vegetable garden planted at the White House was Eleanor Roosevelt's victory garden. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

One of the first things Michelle Obama did as first lady was to dig up part of the beautifully manicured South Lawn of the White House and plant a vegetable garden. The garden was just one of Obama's many efforts to encourage Americans to eat nutritious food and live healthier lives. Her latest project, a book called American Grown, is a diary of that garden through the seasons and a portrait of gardening in America, past and present.

Obama shells peas with fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School after they harvested vegetables from the first lady's garden on the South Lawn of the White House. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

The president of the United States is the head of state of the U.S., the chief executive of the federal government, and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The United States was the first nation to create the office of president as the head of state in a modern republic.

The COVID-19 pandemic precautions precluded an official inaugural ball for the first couple who instead celebrated with a nationally televised inaugural concert and firework display. Dr. Biden joined the ranks of other First Ladies who also had inaugurations that did not feature balls due to war, the Depression or other reasons, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Edith Wilson, Florence Harding, Lou Hoover, Grace Coolidge and Betty Ford.

Biden did not make any remarks during the vigil, but Nashville Mayor John Cooper thanked her for "dropping everything and coming to Nashville" and President Biden for lowering flags to half-staff to honor the victims. Biden traveled to Nashville after a trip to Greene County, Ohio, where the first lady met with military families as part of her Joining Forces initiative.

The first lady is the first representative from the White House to visit Nashville in the wake of Monday's shooting at the private Christian school located in the city's Green Hills neighborhood. Police identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who they said was a former student at the school and legally bought seven firearms over the past few years, three of which were used in the attack.

"As you heard the president say throughout this week, we continue to call on Congress to act to pass an assault weapons ban, and take additional actions to make our kids and communities safer," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Wednesday's White House press briefing when confirming the first lady's Nashville visit.

Detailing her efforts in establishing the White House kitchen garden, Mrs. Obama published her first book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, in 2012.

Upon moving to the White House in 1933, Eleanor Roosevelt informed the nation that they should not expect their new first lady to be a symbol of elegance, but rather "plain, ordinary Mrs. Roosevelt." Despite this disclaimer, she showed herself to be an extraordinary First Lady.

In 1933, Mrs. Roosevelt became the first, First Lady to hold her own press conference. In an attempt to afford equal time to women--who were traditionally barred from presidential press conferences--she allowed only female reporters to attend. In 1939, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused to allow Marion Anderson, an African American singer, to perform in their auditorium. In protest, Mrs. Roosevelt resigned her membership in the DAR.

\"All cancerous tissue was successfully removed, and the margins were clear of any residual skin cancer cells,\" White House Physician Dr. Kevin O'Connor said in a memo to the first lady's press secretary Vanessa Valdivia released Wednesday afternoon. \"We will monitor the area closely as it heals, but do not anticipate any more procedures will be needed.\"

Mrs. Bush has been a key advocate of the President's historic education reform – the No Child Left Behind Act – and a staunch supporter of NCLB's Reading First program, which is the largest early reading initiative in American history. Early in the President's first term, she launched "Ready to Read, Ready to Learn," an education initiative that promoted best practices in early childhood education and raised awareness of innovative teacher training programs. Inspired by her success with the Texas Book Festival, Mrs. Bush founded the National Book Festival to introduce tens of thousands of Americans to their favorite authors each year.

In 2003, Mrs. Bush answered the call to take her education agenda global, as honorary ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade. In this role, she has worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to promote global literacy programs with measurable outcomes. She convened world leaders for annual summits that inspired successful practices, beginning with the first-ever White House Conference on Global Literacy in 2006. Mrs. Bush has visited schools and met with students in nations from Afghanistan to Zambia, with a particular focus on encouraging girls and women to pursue their education.

Since the attacks of September 11, Mrs. Bush has been an outspoken supporter of the women of Afghanistan. In November 2001, she became the first First Lady to give the President's weekly radio address, speaking out against the Taliban's oppression of women and children. She has traveled to Afghanistan three times and serves as honorary chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council.

Mrs. Bush has traveled to all 50 States and more than 75 countries. She has made five trips to Africa alone in support of the President's life-saving global health initiatives, including the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). In visits to 10 of the 15 countries targeted by the PMI and 12 of the 15 PEPFAR countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, she witnessed first-hand the success of these historic commitments. In 2006, she joined President Bush to co-host the first-ever White House Summit on Malaria, which helped raise awareness of malaria and support grassroots efforts to eradicate the disease. 041b061a72


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