Laura Lane Welch Bush is the wife of the 43rd President, George W. Bush. She served as First Lady from 2001 to 2009, advocating for historic education reform and the well-being of women and families worldwide.
Mrs. Bush was 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 Bush'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 served as honorary chair of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council.
Mrs. Bush has been a leading 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 President Bush'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.
Learn more about Laura Welch Bush's spouse, George W. Bush.