The White House Blog: Dr. Jill Biden

  • Caring for India's Women and Children

    Dr. Biden meets with community leaders, US and India agency officials, and NGOS

    Dr. Biden meets with community leaders, US and India agency officials, and NGOS to discuss joint efforts to end childhood malnutrition. (Photo Credit: Carrie Levay)

    Last June, the United States, India, Ethiopia, and UNICEF hosted the Global Child Survival Call to Action event in Washington, DC. In India, 43% of children under the age of five are underweight and 48% are chronically undernourished. To address this and other causes of child deaths that can be prevented, India issued a national Call to Action for Child Survival and Development to end all preventable child deaths by 2035.

    Yesterday I wrote about my time in Kachhpura and how they are working to end malnutrition. Today I attended a roundtable discussion with Government of Maharashtra Officials, USAID, UNICEF, Indian civil society and private sector representatives to learn about their efforts to improve nutrition across the country and to make available other proven health interventions to prevent child deaths, such as immunizations, clean water, and treatment of pneumonia and diarrhea.

    As a mom, this is a personal issue for me as no parent wants to see her child go hungry or be sick. I am inspired by how the communities that I have visited have launched into action to tackle this problem. I am heartened to learn of the joint efforts of the Indian government, civil society and private sector in close collaboration with the U.S. and UN Agencies to target children between 0 and 35 months old, one of the most vulnerable groups. I look forward to seeing their continued progress in the future.


  • Women’s Commitment to Community Health: Nutrition, Education, and Vaccinations in Partnership with USAID

     

    One of my first stops in India was a visit to the settlement of Kachhpura in Agra. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River it offers beautiful views of the Taj Mahal. The settlement has a total population of around 3,205 people and 90% of the households are connected to water lines that are supplied for 6-8 hours daily and around 50% of houses have individual toilets connected to private septic tanks.

    Since 2011 the USAID Health and Urban Poor (HUP) Program has been working in this settlement. Their work has been focused on mapping the health infrastructure as well as bridging the gap between the community and the service providers. There is no public health facility within the settlement and most referrals are to a hospital that is around seven miles away. One focus of both HUP and the Indian government has been to collect information to track every mother and child by name-an ongoing initiative throughout the country. This helps track the health of the mother and her newborn and link them to public sector health facilities. 

    USAID’s activity in Kachhpura has helped mobilize the Mahila Arogya Samit, a women's community group. The members are not only model leaders in their communities, but they also contribute to improved health outcomes for the whole community. 


  • In New Delhi, Vice President Biden Tours Gandhi Smriti

    Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrived in New Delhi today, the first stop on a six-day trip to India and Singapore.

    This trip is an important opportunity to strengthen our partnerships within the region and reaffirm our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Over the next several days, the Vice President will meet with leaders in both countries to discuss a range of issues, from economic growth to energy and climate change to security. 

    Ahead of series of meetings in New Delhi, the Vice President and Dr. Biden had the opportunity to meet with Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter and tour the building where Gandhi spent the last years of his life, which is now the Gandhi Smriti museum. To learn more about their visit, check out the video below or watch here.

    For more updates from the trip, check back on whitehouse.gov and follow the Vice President on Twitter at @VP.


  • In New Delhi, Vice President Biden Tours Gandhi Smriti

    Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden arrived in New Delhi today, the first stop on a six-day trip to India and Singapore.

    This trip is an important opportunity to strengthen our partnerships within the region and reaffirm our commitment to rebalancing U.S. foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific. Over the next several days, the Vice President will meet with leaders in both countries to discuss a range of issues, from economic growth to energy and climate change to security. 

    Ahead of series of meetings in New Delhi, the Vice President and Dr. Biden had the opportunity to meet with Mahatma Gandhi's granddaughter and tour the building where Gandhi spent the last years of his life, which is now the Gandhi Smriti museum. To learn more about their visit, check out the video below or watch here.

    For more updates from the trip, check back on whitehouse.gov and follow the Vice President on Twitter at @VP.


  • 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.