The White House Blog: Dr. Jill Biden

  • Small Businesses: Uncle Sam’s Calling On You

    Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Dr. Jill Biden is printed below. The piece is published today on The Huffington Post. The full text of the op-ed is printed below and the original can be found here

    During National Small Business Week it's important to recognize that small businesses are the backbone of the economy - they employ half the people in America and create 2 out of every 3 new jobs. Small businesses play a critical role in helping our economy, but to stay competitive they need access to a motivated, flexible and skilled workforce.

    Over the past five years I've had the privilege of meeting veterans across the country and abroad. These are men and women who have led troops in battle, worked in high pressure situations and who can bring unique skills to our workforce. But, veterans and military spouses often struggle to find jobs.

    Through initiatives like Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and I are working to bring together public-private partnerships to support America's veterans. Last year we kicked off a private sector challenge: hire or train 100,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2013. We were so proud that businesses answered the call - in fact last month we announced that businesses have hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses.

    But there's still more work to be done and that's where great small business owners like John Stonecipher make a big difference. John is President and CEO of Guidance Aviation, a helicopter pilot training facility in Prescott, Arizona. Guidance Aviation currently employs 55 people... and nearly 50 percent of them are veterans. In 1998, John started with one helicopter and one employee. By 2009 he grew to 34 employees, six of whom were veterans. And by 2012, he had 55 employees and 24 were veterans.

    John's dedication to our veterans goes beyond employment. John noticed a large demand for vocational training by veterans returning to civilian life. He worked with Yavapai College, as well as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Aviation Administration, to create an Associate of Applied Science Professional Helicopter Pilot Degree Program; 85 percent of his students are veterans.

    John's found a niche as a business owner: he's using his expertise and love of flying to create a growing company, but his reliance on and commitment to the veteran community has become a business best practice. I'm proud to say that because of this, John Stoneceipher is 2013's National Small Business Owner of the Year! Congratulations!

    Whether you have one employee or 100, small business owners across the country can follow John's lead by turning to veterans to help them grow and serve their customers.


  • West Wing Week: 06/07/13 or “Cooler at Night"

    This week, the President urged Congress not to let student loan rates double and to confirm three judges for the federal appeals court in Washington, held bilateral meetings with the NATO Secretary-General and the President of Chile, kicked off a National Conference on Mental Health, honored the Super Bowl champions, and announced a major new initiative called ConnectED, while the Vice President wrapped up a weeklong trip to South America. That's May 31st to June 6th or, "Cooler at Night."


  • Promoting Empowerment and Education in the Americas

    Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying my husband Joe on a trip to Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Brazil. In each country, I witnessed the good work of the United States to promote economic growth and development through education and empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

    Colombia: Vocational Training for At-Risk Young Adults

    Dr. Biden and Colombian First Lady María Clemencia de Santos

    Dr. Biden and Colombian First Lady María Clemencia de Santos met with carpentry students at Escuela Taller in Bogota. Credit: Jenny Murcia, US Embassy Bogota Public Affairs Press Assistant

    As an educator for more than 30 years, I enjoy meeting students wherever I go. I love to hear about their experiences and see exciting and innovative programs that are working. One of those programs is the Escuela Taller in Bogota, which I had the pleasure of touring with Colombian First Lady María Clemencia de Santos.  Escuela Taller is a vocational school that serves low income and high-risk youth and provides training for jobs such as carpentry, culinary arts, construction and wood working. 

    Since 2006, USAID has provided funding to the Bogota, Cartagena, and Buenaventura locations of Escuela Taller, funding that, in part, supported the construction of the school’s in-house restaurant and kitchen. Through the U.S. partnership, the school is mitigating gang recruitment risk factors such as lack of education, unemployment and low-self-esteem for young adults.  Alumni like Jonothan Medina who attended the culinary school are now dreaming big – he wants to study in France at the Cordon Bleu! In fact, over 90 percent of the graduates from the culinary program are employed in local restaurants.


  • This Memorial Day: A Simple Act of Kindness

    Ed. note: The full text of the op-ed by Dr. Jill Biden is printed below. The piece is published today on The Huffington Post, and can be found here.

    The year my son Beau was deployed to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard, my family learned how much simple acts of kindness could lift our spirits.  From the notice in the church bulletin to the neighbor who shoveled my daughter-in-law’s driveway during a snow storm, these gestures meant the world to us. 

    This Memorial Day, I hope you will take a moment to offer your own gesture of thanks to our men and women serving abroad and at home, as well as their families, and reflect on the service men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

    Over the past four years, First Lady Michelle Obama and I have had the privilege of meeting with military service members and their families all around the world. We’ve heard their concerns about school and career issues; we’ve shared their joy when service members returned from deployment, and we’ve tried to offer solace when they face difficult times.  These stories and experiences – and our desire to say ‘thank you’ - inspired us to start the Joining Forces initiative, a nationwide effort to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families.

    Joining Forces brings together public and private resources to help with the employment, education and wellness of our returning servicemen and women and their families. Through the Veterans Job Bank and Veterans Recruiting Services, we’re connecting unemployed veterans with job openings.  We’re working hard to encourage states to make it easier for military spouses – often teachers and nurses - to transfer their certifications across state lines.  And we’re proud to have so many private sector partners committed to increasing the number of veterans they hire.

    From a big initiative to a small gesture, Memorial Day is the perfect time to offer a simple act of kindness to our veterans and military families.  You can send a message of thanks to our troops or a military family. Or pledge hours of service. Or even start your own volunteer project.  And afterwards, please share your story - we want to hear about it!


  • Building Opportunities in Indian Country: Congratulations to the Graduates of Navajo Technical College

    Dr. Jill Biden walks with the procession of graduates of the Navajo Technical College Class of 2013

    Dr. Jill Biden walks with the procession of graduates of the Navajo Technical College Class of 2013, Navajo Tech President Elmer Guy, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and the Board of trustees on the Navajo Tech campus in Crownpoint, New Mexico. May 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    On Friday, I had the honor of addressing a class of graduates at Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Tech graduating Class of 2013 earned certificates in 34 fields that will provide the tools they need to serve their community as teachers, nurses, engineers, mechanics, bankers, chefs and countless other opportunities all made possible by their commitment and dedication to improving themselves through the pursuit of a higher education.

    Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) play a key role in President Obama’s educational goal of making the United States home to the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world. TCUs are critical institutions that build tribal communities, create good jobs across Indian Country, and provide Native Americans with the skills they need to do those jobs.

    As a community college teacher, I love seeing what a tremendous difference a community like the one I saw at Navajo Tech can make in the lives of its students.

    The impressive class of graduates included veterans like Jerrilene Kenneth, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army mechanic, before she became the first college graduate in her family with an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. It also included Navajo Tech Student of the Year Sherwin Becenti, who dropped out of college more than ten years ago but returned to school in order to build a better life for his family and set a good example for his children. Dwight Carlston, who grew up with no running water or electricity, was also among the graduates. Dwight maintained a 3.8 grade point average, ran cross country, served as Student Senate President and was recently elected as the Student Congress president of all 38 tribal colleges.


  • "Thank you for all that you do": Military Mother's Day Tea with the First Lady and Dr. Biden

    Watch this video on YouTube

    Yesterday, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a special Mother's Day tea to honor military mothers and show their appreciation and thanks for all the important work they do as well as the sacrifices their families have made in service of our country.


  • West Wing Week: 05/10/13 or “I Dare You to Do Better”

    This week, the President made his fourth trip to Mexico, continued on to Costa Rica, spoke to the graduating class of 2013 at The Ohio State University, hosted the new President of South Korea, discussed hurricane preparedness, and kicked off a series of Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour in the Lone Star State.


  • West Wing Week: 05/03/13 or “Nobody Does It Better”

    This week, President Obama spoke at the Planned Parenthood conference and the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, met with the King of Jordan, made five personnel announcements, celebrated the sciences and the Joining Forces Initiative, and embarked on a trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.


  • First Lady Michelle Obama Announces New Hiring Commitments for Veterans and Military Spouses

    First Lady Michelle Obama Makes a Veterans' Employment Announcement in the East Room, April 30, 2013

    First Lady Michelle Obama delivers remarks during a Joining Forces initiative employment announcement for veterans and military spouses, in the East Room of the White House, April 30, 2013. Stage participants included, from left, Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    Two years ago, President Obama announced a challenge to the private sector to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses by the end of 2013.

    Today, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden all participated in a Joining Forces Employment event at the White House.

    The First Lady announced that America’s businesses nearly tripled the goal set by President Obama and did so eight months early. The private sector has already hired or trained 290,000 veterans and military spouses.

    The First Lady also announced that American companies have committed to hire or train another 435,000 veterans and military spouses over the next five years. 


  • Businesses Must Hire More Vets

    Ed note: This op-ed by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden was first published on Fortune.com. You can see the original article here.

    Two years ago, we launched Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally all Americans to support our veterans and military families. We did this for two simple reasons: because we were both awed by the courage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day to protect our values and keep us safe. We were also awed by their families, the spouses and children who serve right along with them, enduring deployment after deployment with grace and resolve.

    As we traveled the country visiting bases and military communities, everywhere we went, we heard from veterans who had years of training and experience in the military -- leading dozens, even hundreds of their peers; operating some of the most advanced technology; and solving complex problems under the most extreme conditions imaginable. But when they returned home, they struggled to find decent jobs. We met military spouses who'd spent decades moving from base to base every couple of years and struggled to maintain their careers. As the months passed, we saw that the unemployment rate for our most recent veterans remained far too high above the national average.

    These men and women are some of the highest-skilled, best-trained, hardest-working people in this country. They are medics and engineers, drivers and welders, computer technicians and machinists. They are eager to work and determined to keep on serving this country. All they need is a chance.