She eventually relented: Mr. Biden was chosen as President Barack Obama’s vice president in 2008 after an unsuccessful presidential run. As second lady, she relished the relative anonymity teaching provided, noting in interviews that her students often did not recognize her. Indeed, on the website Rate My Professors, former students have more to say about her teaching style (“tough grader” is common) than her connection to two presidential administrations.
The Biden Administration
But on Wednesday, Dr. Biden arrived at the White House with a higher profile, a platform similar to the one she had as second lady, and an East Wing stocked with aides she trusts. They include Anthony Bernal, a senior adviser who has been with the Bidens since the Obama campaign. Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón, an Obama State Department alumnus, is her chief of staff.
Last week, Dr. Biden appointed Rory Brosius, a former Biden campaign adviser, as director for the Joining Forces initiative, a program supporting military families Dr. Biden started with Michelle Obama when she was first lady. Dr. Biden is also expected to push for free community college and raise awareness for breast cancer prevention, aides said.
“She’s not going to walk in the door and go, ‘What’s my identity as first lady?’” Shailagh Murray, a former senior adviser to Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama, said in an interview. “It’s just going to be the first lady version of what she’s been doing all along.”
A native of New Jersey, Dr. Biden grew up in Willow Grove, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Plain-spoken with a Philly accent, Dr. Biden has approached her new role with the same folksy touch her husband tends to employ — “Call me Jill!” she said last week to allies who joined her on a Zoom call. But she is not without flashes of grit: During the presidential campaign, she put herself between her husband, 77 at the time, and a group of unruly vegan protesters.
“I remember every slight committed against the people that I love,” she wrote in her memoir, establishing herself as the family protector, if not its chief grudge holder.
After a brief first marriage, Dr. Biden married Mr. Biden in 1977, more than four years after his first wife, Neilia, and young daughter, Naomi, were killed in a car accident. She put her own career ambitions on hold to raise his two sons, Beau, a Delaware attorney general who died in 2015, and Hunter, as her own. The Bidens’ daughter, Ashley, was born in 1981.