The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is very pleased to announce that Dr. Jill Biden is set to become the first Italian American First Lady in United States history.
NIAF Chairman The Honorable Patricia de Stacy Harrison said, “Dr. Biden’s strong connection to her Italian American heritage and dedication to education aligns with NIAF’s mission. Education is at the Foundation’s core as we provide scholarships and grants to empower high achieving students to further their education in all fields. We send our congratulations to the First Lady designate.”
Born in Hammonton, N.J., Dr. Biden is the granddaughter of Italian immigrant Gaetano Giacoppa, whose surname was anglicized to “Jacobs” upon his arrival to Ellis Island. He supported his family as a deliveryman in New Jersey. His son, Dr. Biden’s father Donald, began his career as a bank teller before becoming the head of a savings and loan institution in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia. Donald moved his family to Willow Grove, Pa., where Dr. Biden and her four younger sisters spent the majority of their childhoods.
In an interview with The US World Herald, Dr. Biden shared that her family spent every weekend of her childhood going back to Hammonton to spend time with her grandparents, and that she and her sisters loved the Annual Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Italian Festival, the country’s oldest Italian American festival. Dr. Biden also fondly recalled the traditional Italian Sunday dinners her grandmother used to make that included red sauce, meatballs and pasta. At her grandparents’ home, she learned how to make her family’s homemade sauce for the first time.
“Like so many immigrants, Italian Americans have contributed so much to this nation,” said Dr. Biden in a speech in Westmoreland County, Pa., this past October. “Our culture, our values and our lives have made this nation richer and stronger and a more beautiful country.”
Dr. Biden served as Second Lady of the United States when her husband President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. served as Vice President from 2009-2017. She has a bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of Delaware, as well as master’s degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University.
She taught English and reading in high schools for 13 years, and taught adolescents with emotional disabilities at a psychiatric hospital.
From 1993 to 2008, Dr. Biden was an English and writing instructor at Delaware Technical & Community College. Since 2009, she has been a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College and plans to continue teaching after the presidential inauguration in January, which would make her the first to continue working as First Lady.