Dr Jill Biden is a longtime educator, wife of the 46th President-elect of the United States and former Vice President, Joe Biden, and the future First Lady of the United States. From 2009 to 2017, as the Second Lady of the United States, she advocated for increased support for military families and breast cancer research, among others, while working as a teacher of English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College.
First life and marriage with Joe Biden
Born Jill Jacobs in 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey, she grew up as the oldest of five sisters in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Philadelphia. At 18, after briefly studying fashion merchandising at a junior college in Pennsylvania, she married Bill Stevenson. The two started attending the University of Delaware together, but divorced a few years later. Jill briefly left college, but later returned to earn her BA in English in 1975.
That same year, she was introduced to Joe Biden, then US Senator from Delaware, by Joe Biden’s younger brother, Frank. Nine years older than Jill, Joe Biden had lost his first wife, Neilia, and one-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car crash in 1972, shortly after being elected to the Senate for the first time. Her two sons, Hunter and Beau, were injured in the same accident but survived.
Joe proposed to Jill five times before accepting. In June 1977, they were married at the United Nations Chapel in New York. Jill helped raise Hunter and Beau, as well as their daughter, Ashley, born in 1981.
Jill Biden received two master’s degrees, in education (with a major in reading) from West Chester University in 1981 and in English from Villanova University in 1987, while teaching adolescents in a mental hospital. She then taught for years at Claymont High School, Brandywine High School and Delaware Technical and Community College.
Biden returned to the University of Delaware to pursue her doctorate in education, which she obtained in 2007. During this time, her husband was re-elected to the Senate five times and unsuccessfully ran for president twice. times, in 1988 and 2008, before Barack Obama, the possible Democratic candidate in 2008, chose him as the vice-presidential candidate.
Jill Biden as second lady
After the inauguration of Obama and Joe Biden in 2009, Jill Biden began working as an English teacher at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). According to Los Angeles Times, she was believed to be the first second woman to hold a paid job while her husband was in office. Known to his students simply as “Dr. B, ”she was known to jot down her papers on various state trips abroad.
Over the next eight years, Jill Biden worked with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Joining Forces initiative, aimed at supporting military families. In 2012, she published a children’s book, Remember, God bless our troops, based on the impact of his stepson Beau’s deployment to Iraq on his wife and young children. She also advocated for the education and value of community colleges, hosting the first White House summit on community colleges with President Obama in 2010 and traveling the country on a Community College to Career bus tour in 2012. In As a co-founder of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, she continued to express her support for breast cancer research and early detection.
Road back to the White House
The Biden family suffered a tragic loss in May 2015, when Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran and former Delaware attorney general, died of brain cancer at the age of 46. which Joe Biden would run for president again at the end of Obama’s second term, he ultimately decided not to. Jill Biden continued to work full time as a professor at NOVA and in 2019 published a dissertation, Where the light enters: build a family, discover myself.
During Joe Biden’s campaign to defeat incumbent President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, Jill Biden has played a more visible role than in her husband’s previous presidential elections. She was one of his most active campaign surrogates, reached out to lawmakers to discuss immigration reform on his behalf, and helped him choose Kamala Harris as his historic running mate. On several occasions she even acted as an unofficial bodyguard, memorable helping to ward off protesters who had interrupted her speeches.
At the Democratic National Convention, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jill Biden highlighted her lifelong passion for education by speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School. Ahead of the election, she said she hoped to continue teaching after her husband takes office as 46th president. “It’s important”, she said CBS News. “I want people to value teachers, know their contributions and uplift the profession.”
Dr Jill Biden. Obama at the White House.
“Jill Biden is finally ready to be the first lady. Can she help her husband defeat Trump? Washington Post, August 17, 2020.
“Dr. Jill Biden on family, education, loss and lightness. CBS News, August 9, 2020.
“Hi, I’m Jill. Jill Biden. But please call me Dr. Biden. Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2009.
“Jill Biden: All the Vice President’s Wives.” Vogue, November 2008.