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Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States, January 2001 - January 2009. White House photo by Krisanna Johnson

Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States, January 2001 - January 2009. White House photo by Krisanna Johnson

Biography of Mrs. Laura Bush

Mrs. Laura Bush has been a champion of the President's ambitious agenda and a gracious representative of the American people.  A former teacher and librarian, she has dedicated herself to advancing education and promoting the well-being of women and families worldwide. 

Mrs. Bush has been a key advocate of the President's historic education reform – the No Child Left Behind Act – and a staunch supporter of NCLB's Reading First program, which is the largest early reading initiative in American history.  Early in the President's first term, she launched "Ready to Read, Ready to Learn," an education initiative that promoted best practices in early childhood education and raised awareness of innovative teacher training programs.  Inspired by her success with the Texas Book Festival, Mrs. Bush founded the National Book Festival to introduce tens of thousands of Americans to their favorite authors each year.

In 2003, Mrs. Bush answered the call to take her education agenda global, as honorary ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade.  In this role, she has worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to promote global literacy programs with measurable outcomes.  She convened world leaders for annual summits that inspired successful practices, beginning with the first-ever White House Conference on Global Literacy in 2006.  Mrs. Bush has visited schools and met with students in nations from Afghanistan to Zambia, with a particular focus on encouraging girls and women to pursue their education.

As the leader of President Bush's Helping America's Youth initiative, Mrs. Bush oversaw 10 Federal agencies in a groundbreaking partnership that realized the vision of the President's Management Agenda.  Through a national conference in Washington and six regional conferences, Helping America's Youth taught more than 1,000 community members new strategies to address the needs of at-risk youth. 

Since the attacks of September 11, Mrs. Bush has been an outspoken supporter of the women of Afghanistan.  In November 2001, she became the first First Lady to give the President's weekly radio address, speaking out against the Taliban's oppression of women and children.  She has traveled to Afghanistan three times and serves as honorary chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council. 

Mrs. Bush has been a leading Administration advocate for the cause of human rights in Burma.  She drew global attention to the ruling junta's oppression with a 2006 roundtable at the UN headquarters.  After Cyclone Nargis devastated Burma in May 2008, Mrs. Bush held an unprecedented press conference in the White House Press Briefing Room and urged the regime to accept international aid.  Mrs. Bush also traveled to the Thai-Burma border and met with refugees who fled the abuses of Burma's military regime.

Mrs. Bush has traveled to all 50 States and more than 75 countries.  She has made five trips to Africa alone in support of the President's life-saving global health initiatives, including the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  In visits to 10 of the 15 countries targeted by the PMI and 12 of the 15 PEPFAR countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, she witnessed first-hand the success of these historic commitments.  In 2006, she joined President Bush to co-host the first-ever White House Summit on Malaria, which helped raise awareness of malaria and support grassroots efforts to eradicate the disease.

Mrs. Bush has helped thousands of women take charge of their health by raising awareness of breast cancer and heart disease.  As Ambassador for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Heart Truth campaign, Mrs. Bush traveled the country to educate women about the symptoms of heart disease, which is the number one killer of American women.  In addition, Mrs. Bush helped launch the U.S.-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research and the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas, which unite the resources of researchers and advocates in the United States and around the world.

Mrs. Laura Bush was born on November 4, 1946, in Midland, Texas.  She earned degrees in education and library science and worked for several years as an elementary school teacher and children's librarian before marrying George Walker Bush.  They have twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, and a son-in-law, Henry Hager.  The Bush family also includes two dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley.  Prior to becoming First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Bush served as the First Lady of Texas. 

Mrs. Laura Bush's Leadership

First Lady's Work Advances President Bush's Agenda At Home And Abroad

Mrs. Laura Bush is an effective ambassador on important issues for the President and our Nation. As First Lady, she traveled domestically to all 50 States and internationally to more than 75 countries. A leading advocate for literacy, Mrs. Bush has championed the power of education to foster healthy families and communities, advance opportunity for young people, and promote human rights worldwide, particularly for women and children.

Mrs. Bush Is Actively Involved In Supporting The President's Global Diplomatic Efforts

The United States is working with the international community to promote peace, stability, and reconstruction in Afghanistan. In 2001, fewer than a million Afghan children were in school – all of them boys. Today, more than six million Afghan children are in school – about a third of them girls. Since the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan's infant-mortality rate has been reduced by almost 25 percent, and 85 percent of Afghans now have access to basic healthcare.

  • Mrs. Bush made three trips to Afghanistan to underscore the United States' commitment to the country's rebuilding and development. In 2001, President Bush turned the microphone over to Mrs. Bush for the weekly radio address, where she spoke out about the oppression of women and children under the Taliban. Since 2001, Mrs. Bush has routinely met with Afghan students, teachers, parliamentarians, and judges during their visits to the United States for education and training.

  • In June 2008, Mrs. Bush traveled to Bamiyan and met with the province's governor Habiba Sarabi, Afghanistan's first and only woman governor. Governor Sarabi's appointment in 2005 was a historic milestone in the advancement of Afghan women. Mrs. Bush also met with women entrepreneurs and visited the Bamiyan Regional Police Training Center where she met with several women police officers.

  • As Honorary Chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, Mrs. Bush helps inspire both public and private partnerships to support Afghanistan. The Council has implemented over 30 initiatives in the areas of economic empowerment, education, political participation, health, and children's issues totaling approximately $70 million.

  • In Paris, on June 12, 2008, Mrs. Bush addressed the International Conference in Support of Afghanistan, urging the international community to offer the political and economic assistance Afghanistan needs to recover from decades of war and oppression. Following her third historic visit to Afghanistan, her remarks reiterated the President's commitment to aid the men, women, and children of Afghanistan as they rebuild their country. At the conference, Mrs. Bush announced a $10.2 billion pledge for U.S. assistance to Afghanistan. Total U.S. humanitarian, development, and security assistance appropriated since 2001 is more than $26 billion.

Mrs. Bush actively supports the people of Burma as they struggle to free themselves from the regime's tyranny.

  • The United States has called on the international community to support the people of Burma in bringing peaceful change to their country. Mrs. Bush hosted a roundtable at the United Nations Headquarters in 2006 to draw attention in the international community to human rights problems in Burma. In subsequent editorials, interviews, and public statements, she has continued to cast the spotlight on the plight of the Burmese people.

  • As part of her ongoing call to the international community to assist the Burmese people in their struggle for democracy and human rights, Mrs. Bush traveled to the Thai-Burma border. In August 2008, Mrs. Bush visited the Mae La refugee camp and the Mae Tao medical clinic to learn first-hand of the refugees' plight and their desire for education and freedom. Mae La, the largest of nine camps along the western Thailand border, shelters over 35,000 refugees, and provides free health care to hundreds of refugees each day.

  • Mrs. Bush has protested the violent crackdown of the ruling junta against peaceful protesters and the prolonged detainment of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Laureate and leader of Burma's freely-elected, pro-democratic party.She has called on the regime to stop its terror campaigns against its own people; to release all political prisoners; to commit to a meaningful, unrestricted dialogue with opposition leaders; and to take steps to foster a democratic transition. She has also called on the international community to refrain from purchasing Burmese gemstones, the revenue from which props up the repressive Burmese regime rather helping the people of Burma.

  • On May 5, 2008, Mrs. Bush held a press conference in the White House Press Briefing Room and called on the junta to allow unhindered access for international disaster experts and aid providers so that the Burmese people could receive the assistance they need in the wake of the devastating Cyclone Nargis.

Mrs. Bush Is A Leading Advocate For Literacy And Education In The United States And Around The World

As Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade, Mrs. Bush highlights the vital importance of literacy in addressing the challenges facing the developing world. In 2006, Mrs. Bush convened leaders from around the world for the White House Conference on Global Literacy. Her commitment inspired six subsequent regional conferences, which addressed specific regional literacy challenges, promoted concrete country support, and fostered regional cooperation. By investing in literacy and education, governments give their people freedom to improve their lives, their health, their communities, and their nations.

In support of the President's international education initiatives, Mrs. Bush promotes education for boys and girls throughout Africa and the world. The President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI) committed $600 million from FY 2002 through FY 2010 to increase access to quality basic education opportuni¬ties in Africa through scholarships, textbooks, and teacher training programs. AEI has awarded scholarships in 40 countries, trained more than 730,000 teachers, and provided 8.5 million textbooks and other learning materials. More than 34 million children have been helped by AEI to date. In 2007, the President and Mrs. Bush announced the Initiative for Expanded Education for the World's Poorest Children and committed an additional $525 million to provide greater access to quality basic education in six target countries and new after-school skills development programs.

Mrs. Bush supports education reforms that are closing the achievement gap. She has played an instrumental role in the success of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, helping ensure every child can reach his or her full potential. Drawing on her experience as a teacher, Mrs. Bush helped shape the Reading First program, which is putting proven methods of reading instruction in our Nation's classrooms to ensure every child is proficient by the fourth grade.

Announced by President Bush in his 2005 State of the Union Address, the Helping America's Youth initiative, led by Mrs. Bush, encourages Americans to engage in helping young people become healthy adults. This nationwide effort works to raise awareness about the challenges facing youth, particularly at-risk boys, and to motivate caring adults to connect with youth in three key areas: family, school, and community.

  • The initiative has developed resources for caring adults who want to help America's youth. In October 2005, Mrs. Bush convened the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth at Howard University in Washington, D.C. with parents, civic leaders, faith-based and community service providers, educators, and experts to address problems facing America's youth and showcase successful solutions. Six regional conferences co-hosted by Mrs. Bush provided training sessions and an expert speaker series to give State and local participants best practices, successful program guidance, and lessons learned to apply to their work on behalf of young people in their communities.

  • The vital work of Helping America's Youth will continue through a Presidential Working Group. The President signed an Executive Order on February 7, 2008, formally establishing the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs, a coalition of Federal agencies that will continue their work to support communities and organizations working to help our Nation's youth.

As founder of the National Book Festival, Mrs. Bush encourages Americans to celebrate books and the joy of reading. Co-hosted annually by the Library of Congress and Mrs. Bush, this event brings up to 120,000 visitors each year to the National Mall to hear award-winning authors read excerpts from their latest books.

Mrs. Bush actively supports Gulf Coast rebuilding efforts. In 24 visits to the Gulf Coast, Mrs. Bush has helped drive school recovery efforts for the 1,121 schools damaged or destroyed by hurricanes. She continues to encourage Americans to volunteer their time to invest in the future of the Crescent City and entire region.

Mrs. Bush Champions Health Initiatives That Are Saving Lives And Healing Countries

Mrs. Bush has focused domestic and international attention on the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), and global efforts for breast cancer awareness and research.

  • In visits to 12 of the 15 PEPFAR focus countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, Mrs. Bush has seen firsthand the success of this historic commitment to the fight against global HIV/AIDS. President Bush announced PEPFAR in 2003 as a five-year, $15 billion initiative – then the largest international health initiative in history to fight a single disease. In July 2008, the President signed bipartisan legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR for up to $48 billion for five additional years and to expand its programs to continue to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. From 2003-2008, this effort helped bring life-saving treatment to 2.1 million people and supported care for more than 10 million people around the world.

  • Mrs. Bush has helped mobilize public and private efforts to address malaria. Over the course of five trips to Africa, she has visited 10 of the 15 countries aided by the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). The President and Mrs. Bush hosted the 2006 White House Summit on Malaria, bringing together international experts to establish a united effort to combat this preventable disease.

  • The United States is working with countries in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas to end breast cancer. During visits to nine countries, Mrs. Bush has encouraged women to take charge of their health and emphasized the importance of screenings and early detection. In Saudi Arabia, the number of women receiving breast cancer screenings at the Abdullatif Cancer Screening Center increased almost fivefold since the partnership began in 2006.

The Heart Truth campaign has helped save tens of thousands of women's lives. In 2008, Mrs. Bush marked her fifth anniversary as The Heart Truth ambassador. Mrs. Bush has traveled throughout the United States to talk with women and raise their awareness of the risks of heart disease. As a wife and mother, Mrs. Bush recognizes the urgency for women to commit to a lifestyle that promotes lifelong health, not only for every woman's own benefit but also for the benefit of their families and loved ones.

  • More women are aware that heart disease is their number one cause of death. Today, 62 percent of women recognize that heart disease is the most common cause of death for women, up from only 34 percent in 2000.

  • Fewer women are dying of heart disease. Heightened awareness is leading to action. The last six years saw the first decline in decades in the number of heart disease deaths in women. The yearly decrease in deaths from heart disease since 2000 amounts to 36,703 lives saved. The Heart Truth campaign is empowering American women to fight back against heart disease, which is often preventable.

Mrs. Bush Is Working To Safeguard America's Heritage, Protect Our National Parks, And Conserve Our Oceans

President and Mrs. Bush's leadership has helped ensure that our Nation's priceless intellectual and cultural artifacts, historic structures, and historic sites continue to be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

  • Mrs. Bush has instilled in the next generation a sense of stewardship and pride in our National Parks. In her role as Honorary Chair of the National Park Foundation and through programs like Junior Rangers and First Bloom, Mrs. Bush is encouraging youth across the country to appreciate and protect our country's national treasures and natural resources.

  • The National Parks Centennial Initiative announced by President Bush and championed by Mrs. Bush will help ensure America's National Parks are on track for another century of conservation, preservation, and enjoyment. Over the next 10 years, increased government investment and private philanthropy will fund significant improvements to our National Parks that will enhance family experiences in parks by adding visitor services and restoring historic and cultural sites for public enjoyment.

  • Established by Executive Order on March 3, 2003, the Preserve America Initiative encourages and supports community efforts to protect America's priceless cultural and natural heritage. Mrs. Bush advocates for the Initiative's work to establish a greater shared knowledge of our Nation's past, strengthen regional identities and local pride, increase local participation in preserving the country's cultural and natural heritage assets, and support the economic vitality of our communities. To that end, more than 180 Preserve America grants have been awarded, totaling $12.7 million to date.
    • On July 12, 2007, Mrs. Bush announced that President Bush sent proposed legislation to Congress for the Preserve America and Save America's Treasures Act. If passed by the Congress, the Act will help ensure the government's continued ability to protect America's historic places, objects, and collections for many years to come.

  • Mrs. Bush has championed conservation and protection of our oceans and coastal resources. Mrs. Bush announced the native Hawaiian name of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, underscoring the importance of native Hawaiian culture and resource protection. She emphasized the important role of ocean literacy and education by designating the J. L. Scott Marine Education Center as a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center. She also launched a Marine Debris Initiative to work with the private sector to clean up debris, educate the public about recycling and trash disposal, and work with our international partners to reduce the amount of marine debris entering the ocean.

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Call to Service

To empower Americans to help others, President Bush launched the USA Freedom Corps. The goal of the USA Freedom Corps was to connect Americans with opportunities to serve our country, to foster a culture of citizenship, responsibility and service. Over the last six years, USA Freedom Corps has met these goals.

Click here for video on the President's call to service.

Click here to view transcript.

Burma Assistance

"Thank you for your concerns for the Burmese people following the devastating Cyclone Nargis. President Bush and I appreciate the American people's response to this tragedy. For more information on how you can help, please visit one of the links below."
– Mrs. Laura Bush

USAID Burma: Cyclone Nargis
USA Freedom Corps

Mrs. Bush's Recipes
Mrs. Bush's Recipes
Mrs. Laura Bush offers some of her favorite recipes.

Click here to see recipes.