Jill T. Biden, EdD, '91 MA
Doctor of Humanities
Jill T. Biden, EdD, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, is a mother and grandmother, a lifelong educator, a proud Blue Star mom and an active member of her community. As second lady, Dr. Biden works to bring attention to the sacrifices made by military families, to highlight the importance of community colleges to America’s future, and to raise awareness around areas of particular importance to women, including breast cancer prevention, all while continuing to teach English full time at a community college in Virginia.
Dr. Biden has always said that community colleges are “one of America’s best-kept secrets.” As a teacher, she sees how community colleges have changed the lives of so many of her students for the better. As second lady, she works to underscore the critical role of community colleges in creating the best, most educated workforce in the world. In 2012 she traveled across the country as part of the “Community College to Career” tour to highlight successful industry partnerships between community colleges and employers. In the fall of 2010, she hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama. She continues to work on this outreach on behalf of the administration, frequently meeting around the country with students, teachers and industry representatives.
As a military mom, Dr. Biden understands firsthand how difficult it can be to have a loved one deployed overseas. In Delaware, she was active with a nonprofit organization called Delaware Boots on the Ground, which helps families during times of military deployment by organizing community events to raise awareness and support. As second lady, Dr. Biden has dedicated herself to shining a light on military families’ strength and courage, as well as the challenges that they face. She travels regularly to military bases in both the United States and abroad to visit with service members and their families.
Dr. Biden’s children’s book, Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops, was released in June 2012. Inspired by real-life events, the book 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 is deployed to Iraq. The book also includes resources about what readers can do to support military service members and their families.
Through their Joining Forces initiative, first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden have issued a national challenge to all Americans to take action and find ways to support and engage military families in their own communities. Joining Forces aims to educate, challenge and spark action from all sectors of society—citizens, communities, businesses, nonprofits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations and government—to ensure military families have the support they deserve. At JoiningForces.gov, Americans can find many ways to take action.
In 1993, after four of her friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, Dr. Biden started the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware, which in the past 18 years has educated more than 10,000 high school girls about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Dr. Biden and the vice president also have served as the honorary co-chairs for the Global Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. Dr. Biden continues to stress the importance of breast cancer research and early detection.
Dr. Biden has been an educator for more than three decades. Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., she taught English at a community college in Delaware, at a public high school and at a psychiatric hospital for adolescents. While working and raising a family, she earned two master’s degrees, including one in English from Villanova. In January 2007, Dr. Biden received a doctorate in Education from the University of Delaware. Her dissertation focused on maximizing student retention in community colleges.
Jill and Joe have three children: Ashley, a social worker; Beau, the attorney general of the state of Delaware and a major in the Delaware Army National Guard; and Hunter, a lawyer. They have a son-in-law, Howard, and two daughters-in-law, Hallie and Kathleen. They also are the proud grandparents of Naomi, Finnegan, Maisy, Natalie and Hunter. The oldest of five sisters, Dr. Biden was raised in Willow Grove, Pa., by Bonny and Donald Jacobs, both of whom are deceased.