First Lady & Friends

Join Utah’s First Lady Abby Cox and her friends for timely and candid conversations with fascinating people with unique perspectives in an effort to unite us all through our common humanity. Each week, Abby dives into discussions on topics ranging from education to motherhood to mental health and beyond. 

Abby is an outspoken advocate for “getting proximate” with people who have different viewpoints, and using her platform as Utah’s First Lady to combat the empathy crisis our country is facing. 

Come along with us as we journey to bring courage, compassion and connection back into our homes and communities... and have a lot of fun along the way! THANK YOU for being our friend.

Episodes

  • October 22, 2021

    Luna Banuri on developing connections in Utah through the Utah Civic Muslim League and aiding our refugee communities

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Luna Banuri (Executive Director - Utah Muslim Civic League) to talk about growing up in Pakistan, how her family structure growing up helped her explore her own identity, and her decision to move to the United States with her husband.

    Then Luna dives into her work with Utah Muslim Civic League, how the pandemic highlighted a lot of issues surrounding our community resources and economic outreach within the Muslim community, and helping other women find their passion in leadership.

    We also talk about the interfaith connections in Utah, Luna's work with United Today Stronger Tomorrow, BYU's recent presentation, "The Islamic World Today: Issues and Perspectives" and how different faiths can come together to understand each other better.

    Lastly, we discuss how the community must come together to welcome the inclusion of over 700 Afghan refugees into Utah over the next few months and some different ways we can help those that have been affected during such a tragic time.

    To learn more about some of the organizations we spoke about today you can visit them below:
    https://www.utahmcl.com/
    https://unitedtoday.org/
    https://www.utahcf.org/afghan-response

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  • October 14, 2021

    Amanda Covington on the importance of opportunity and saying yes in life

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Amanda Covington (Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Larry H. Miller Group) to talk about some of the greatest moments of her career up to this point, the importance of championing women, and how she was introduced to Gail Miller by being open and saying yes to opportunities.

    Then Amanda talks about the Women's Leadership Institute of Utah, some of the series' they provide for women, and how her relationship with Larry H. Miller Group has evolved over the years.

    We also dive into some of the changes that the group has begun implementing, how Utah's business culture has been a staple of giving back to the state, and why golfing is such a great place to build relationships and develop networking opportunities. 

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  • October 7, 2021

    Kristin Andrus on how philanthropy plays a major role in her life and the drive to help others

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Kristin Andrus (Philanthropist, Activism, Service, Period Campaign) to talk about meeting her husband, Jeremy, how her love for swimming helped instill her impressive work ethic, and her strategy when it comes to balancing their children's hobbies and sports.

    Then we talk about the hurdles that Kristin and Jeremy had to overcome during their earlier years working with Skullcandy, the family's decision to buy Traeger, and working with different Utah organizations to help give back to the community.

    We also talk about the birth of SisterGoods, her passion for bringing menstrual products into schools, and the amazing work that the Neighborhood House is doing for low-income families.

    To learn more about Kristin, you can visit her on Instagram at @kristinandrus and @SisterGoodsGiving

     

    Play Episode
  • September 30, 2021

    Dr. Lexie Kite on why we need to redefine how we envision beauty

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Dr. Lexie Kite (Co-author of More Than a Body: Your Body Is an Instrument, Not an Ornament) to talk about how the media has distorted our vision of what beauty is, why it's important to understand how you feel about your body right at this moment in order to build steps towards resilience, and how to cope with shame.

    Then Dr. Kite dives into why you need to believe that you are more than your body, in what ways self-objectification could be holding you back from other aspects of life, and why body positivity is a fundamental aspect of positive mental health. 

    Lastly, we talk about some of the self-objectification issues that are associated with Utah's distinct culture, how many women find their power in their bodies and their beauty, and how enforcing strict dress codes can have a negative impact on our children's mental health. 

    You can learn more about Dr. Kite and the work she is doing to promote body image resilience here: https://www.morethanabody.org/about-us/

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  • September 23, 2021

    Renae Ingles on growing up in Australia, playing professional Netball at 15, and raising awareness for ASD

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Renae Ingles to talk about Renae's childhood in Australia, becoming a professional Netball player at 15 years old, and meeting her husband, Joe Ingles. 

    Then Renae opens up about the moment their son, Jacob was diagnosed with autism in 2019 and the amazing work that the Ingles have done to raise awareness for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) both here in the states and in Australia. 

    To learn more about the work that the Ingles are doing to raise awareness for ASD, you can visit:
    https://www.kulturecity.org/
    https://firstlady.utah.gov/issues/

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  • September 16, 2021

    Mayor Jenny Wilson on bipartisanship in Utah, connection within communities, and women in politics

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Mayor Jenny Wilson (Salt Lake County) to talk about the state of partisanship in Utah right now, why the division between parties is hurting the state, and how being proximate is essential in bringing us all together. 

    Then we dive into the First Lady's Show Up initiatives, the impact that leaders in our communities can have in positively changing the state, Mayor Wilson's path to becoming mayor of Salt Lake County, and some of the reasons why there aren't more women in Utah politics.

    To learn more about Mayor Wilson and the amazing work she's doing for Salt Lake County, you can visit: www.slco.org

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  • September 9, 2021

    LaDawn Stoddard on Utah's volunteerism and available projects for this years' September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by LaDawn Stoddard (Director of UServeUtah, the Utah Commission on Service and Volunteerism) to talk about starting her family at an early age, UServeUtah's impact on volunteerism in the state, and some of the great projects that are available for this upcoming September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance.

    Then we talk about how important service is to the community, not only for the state but for ourselves, all of the different types of service that are offered throughout the state, and the honor that Utahns take in being first in the nation in volunteerism.

    If you would like to learn more about volunteer projects that are happening for this years' September 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance, you can visit the Just Serve website here: https://www.justserve.org/

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  • September 2, 2021

    The lifechanging impact of reunification within foster care with Megan and Vanessa

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Megan Carter to talk about how substance abuse impacted her during her teenage years, how her two boys were taken away after she began to spiral deeper into her addiction, and the steps that she had to take in order to find sobriety.

    Then Megan opens up about meeting Vanessa Knickerbocker after she became a foster parent with her husband to Megan's boys, how the two created a special bond over time, and how Megan learned to survive outside of treatment with her boys living a sober lifestyle.

    Lastly, we dive into how the two families have begun making memories together and why it's so important to focus on the reunification of families in foster care.

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  • August 26, 2021

    Marc Brackett on the impact that emotional intelligence can have in education

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Marc Brackett (Author of Permission To Feel, Director of Yale's Center for Emotional Intelligence, and Yale Child Study Center professor) to talk about how childhood trauma shaped his emotional journey, some of the ways that the pandemic has impacted our emotions, and why we can use it as an opportunity to learn how to positively regulate our emotions.

    Then we talk about what parents can do to help prepare our children to explore their emotions in a positive manner, why it's so important for parents to be in tune with their emotions to help their children, and what we can do to help prepare our educators for the changing education landscape.

    Lastly, Marc talks about the importance of having Social and emotional learning (SEL) inside our schools and some of the benefits of investing in emotional learning. 

    We also wanted to announce that our next book club read is going to be Think Again by Adam Grant on September 23rd.

    Play Episode
  • August 19, 2021

    We're live from the Utah Charter Network Symposium to talk about how the pandemic has affected our teachers and counselors

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Kirsten Rappleye (Director of First Lady’s Initiatives), Krystal Anderson (Karl G. Maeser Prep Academy Counselor), and Michelle Love-Day (Founder of RISE Virtual Academy) to talk about the First Lady's initiatives, teaching and counseling through the pandemic, and what teachers are doing to take care of themselves.

     

     

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  • August 12, 2021

    Syd Dickson talks about the ever-evolving state of education in Utah

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Syd Dickson (Utah State Superintendent of Public Instruction) to talk about growing up in Antimony, what influenced her to begin pursuing higher education, and how her grandmother was such a monumental figure for her growing up.

    Then we talk about what makes education in Utah so unique, why it's so impactful to share and learn from each other within the state, and some of the different ways the state is adapting to new challenges we face in education.

    We also talk about the struggles that teachers have faced throughout the past year and how digital tools are becoming a greater strategy in the world of special education.

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  • August 5, 2021

    Diving into Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett — Our first book club episode!

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Kirsten Rappleye (Director of First Lady’s Initiatives) and Shelly Smith (Director of Boards and Commissions) to dive into Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett Ph.D., how Marc is making an amazing impact on the emotional intelligence within our youth, and how we can all apply RULER to better understand our own emotional intelligence.

    Then we talk about the struggles of addressing our emotions due to the lack of shared understanding between others, how our cultural backgrounds can affect our learning abilities, and answer some listener-submitted questions!

    Lastly, we talk about how mental health has been at the forefront of the Olympics this year and why it's so important to prioritize our own mental health in order to protect ourselves.

    Play Episode
  • July 30, 2021

    Dr. Susan Madsen on the importance of developing leadership skills in young girls

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Dr. Susan Madsen (Founder and Director, Utah Women & Leadership Project and Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership) to talk about how her childhood helped get her to where she is today, why it's so important to find your voice at an early age, and different ways we can teach young women and girls to develop leadership skills.

    Then we talk about how influential a great teacher can be for a young girl's confidence, the dangers of focusing on our looks in our youth, and some of the amazing resources that the  USU Utah Women & Leadership Project offers to get women into leadership and empower young women and girls to succeed in finding their voices.

    To learn more about the Utah Women and Leadership Project you can visit their website at: 

    http://utwomen.org/

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  • July 22, 2021

    Tammy Pearson on the state of ranching, being the first women commissioner in Beaver County, and free-roaming horses

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Tammy Pearson (Beaver County Commissioner) to talk about growing up in the ranching and farming lifestyle in Hinckley, UT, the best qualities that come along with rural living, and how ranching has been affected by COVID-19 and one of the worst droughts in recent memory.

    Then Tammy talks about the events in her life that led her to become the first women commissioner in Beaver County, how free-roaming horses impact Utah's land during the drought, and why it's so important to create jobs in Utah's rural communities.

    Play Episode
  • July 8, 2021

    We're starting a book club on the podcast! And updates on our "Show Up" initiative with Kirsten Rappleye

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Kirsten Rappleye (Director of First Lady’s Initiatives) to announce our new book club segment for the show that will drop on August 5th, why we picked "Permission to Feel" by Marc Brackett Ph.D. to be our first book, and some of the ways that you can be a part of the episode!

    Then we talk about some of the updates from our "Show Up" initiative that includes the amazing things we're working on in Social-emotional Learning (SEL), some of the events we have planned with Unified Sports in Utah, and the different ways we're trying to raise awareness surrounding the foster care communities in the state.

    Play Episode
  • July 1, 2021

    Michelle Love-Day on RISE, finding her passion as an educator, and empathy's place in understanding each other

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Michelle Love-Day (Founder of RISE Virtual Academy) to talk about growing up in Lorain, OH, and how the culture helped her developed a sense of pride in her hometown. She also talks about finding her passion for being an educator at a young age and how her family's history helped shape who she has become today.

    Then Michelle opens up about giving people the benefit of the doubt, always checking our blind spots when it comes to introspection, and why we could also use more empathy to better understand one another.

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  • June 25, 2021

    Becky Pickle on her work as an entrepreneur, being a foster parent, and her amazing work in the community

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Becky Pickle (Chick-fil-A Franchisee, President-Elect on the Board of Trustees for the Road Home) to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur, owning and operating Chick-fil-A restaurants, and all of the different ways she's able to help throughout the community. 

    Becky also opens up about how the pandemic has impacted the restaurant industry, how it forced the industry to innovate, and some of the best things she's learned since the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Then she talks about her experience being a foster family, her work within the LGBTQ+ community, and why it's so important to show up for those who feel like they don't have a voice.

    We also dive into the issues that Utah faces when it comes to aiding our homeless community.

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  • June 17, 2021

    Pamela Atkinson on being Utah's Mother Teresa, the state's homeless communities, and the importance of service to those in need

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Pamela Atkinson (Advisor to the Governor) to talk about growing up in Kent, England, how seeing families with wealth inspired her to focus on her education to get out of impoverished conditions, and how she feels about being "Utah's Mother Teresa".

    Then Pamela opens up about the misconceptions about Utah's homeless community, her passion for helping others, and some of her fondest memories while working with Utahns who are experiencing homelessness.

    Lastly, Pamela talks about the importance of performing services in our communities and the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund. 

    If you or someone you know would like to donate to the Pamela Atkinson Homeless Trust Fund, you can find more information here: https://jobs.utah.gov/htf/

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  • June 10, 2021

    Getting proximate with Utah's LGBTQ+ community

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Brian Garrett and Rob Matheny to talk about the moment they knew that they were not like everyone else in Utah, the fear they originally felt for coming, the work that the military is doing to support the LGBTQ+ community.

    Then we talk about the increased suicide rates within the LGBTQ+ community, all of the various ways that Encircle is helping give support to the community, positive ways that we can all promote allyship, and stereotypes that are very offensive.

    We're also joined by Tiffeni Wall and her son Brayden, to talk about Brayden's experience coming out to his parents, how proud Tiffeni and her husband were when Brayden shared his decision to come out, and the neverending experience of having to come out every time Brayden meets someone.

    Lastly, we talk about the importance of educating ourselves and showing our support for those who identify as LGBTQ+.

    Play Episode
  • June 3, 2021

    Richard Ostler on his advocacy for Utah's LGBTQ+ community and why Utahns need to be more compassionate

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Richard Ostler to talk about how Utah has been so influential in his life both growing up and as an adult, his advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community, and understanding the issues that are affecting Utahns by learning to listen.

    Then Richard talks about gender dysphoria, the dangers of shaming others who are experiencing gender dysphoria, and why we need to be there for all Utahns no matter their gender or identity.

    Lastly, Richard opens up about how displaying the pride flag can be a helpful way to support the LGBTQ+ community and how we can help create safe spaces for the community all throughout Utah.

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  • May 27, 2021

    Emilee Pehrson opens up about living with cystic fibrosis and the special bond that she shares with Abby

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Emilee Pehrson to talk about what her childhood was like growing up in Fairview with cystic fibrosis, the support she received from her family, including her older brother and Utah Governor, Spencer Cox, and how her relationship with hospitals has evolved throughout the years.

    Emilee then talks about what a day in her life looks like for someone with CF, how the pandemic affected her life, and how scientific breakthroughs have helped Emilee along the way.

    She also opens up about her and Abby's surrogacy journey, some of the struggles that they experienced during the surrogacy, and how their relationship has evolved following the birth of Lawson.

    Play Episode
  • May 20, 2021

    Tim Shriver on the Special Olympics, "The Call to Unite", and the importance of SEL in education

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Tim Shriver (CEO of Unite, Chairman of Special Olympics International, and CASEL Cofounder) to talk about his background in education, the first Special Olympics that took place in Chicago in 1968, and the concept behind the book, "The Call to Unite: Voices of Hope and Awakening."

    Then we talk about how Covid-19 has affected our children, how we can use the pandemic as an opportunity for growth both locally and on a national level, and how unity is going to be so impactful moving forward.

    Lastly, Tim talks about his work with CASEL and why we need to make evidence-based social and emotional learning an integral part of our education system.

     

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  • May 13, 2021

    Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson on what we've learned from the pandemic and her non-traditional educational journey

    In this week's episode, First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson to talk about her amazing family, the Second Gentleman, Gabe, her traumatizing experience with Covid-19 last year, and why empathizing with others might be one of the most important lessons we've learned from the pandemic.

    We also talk about Deidre's non-traditional educational journey, putting priorities on the back burner when she became a parent, and how we need to reevaluate the ways we approach qualifications required for fulfilling positions around the state.

    Lastly, we run through a quick session of rapid-fire questions.

    Play Episode
  • May 4, 2021

    Tackling racism and unconscious bias in Utah with Aundrea DeMille

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Aundrea DeMille (International Keynote Speaker and host of The Wake Up Stories podcast) to talk about her experience falling in love with the state of Utah, meeting Abby and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox for the first time, and why we need to value empathy as a state in order to create an inclusive environment for all Utahns.

    Then Aundrea opens up about the racial divide amongst people in Georgia when she was growing up, her experiences dealing with racism and unconscious bias in Utah, and why we need to have uncomfortable conversations to create equality for everyone.

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  • April 29, 2021

    Breaking down our new statewide initiative — Show Up Utah!

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Kirsten Rappleye (Director of First Lady’s Initiatives) to talk about her new initiative Show Up Utah, her four areas of focus including social and emotional learning (SEL), foster care, Unified sports, and service projects, and why community relationships can bring a bigger voice to the work that communities are doing for the state of Utah.

    Then the First Lady speaks with Melissa Hart (Utah's State Director for America's Kids Belong) to talk about America's Kids Belong, coming together as a state to help our foster children, and ways we all help to get involved in reducing the number of children in the foster care service.

    We also speak with Carla Bedingfield (Adaptive PE teacher for the Wasatch District) about her experience in developing unified sports programs, why it's so important to focus on inclusion in sports, and providing a sense of belonging for students with and without disabilities.

    The First Lady is then joined by John Arthur (Sixth-grade teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School) to talk about being Utah’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, how education is affected by trauma, and why SEL is such an integral part of our children's development.

    Lastly, we talk with Sarah Allred (Deputy Director of First Lady's Initiatives) about why service projects were such an important aspect of the governor’s campaign, how service projects can shape a community, and why projects like these are so fundamental to our state.

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  • April 22, 2021

    Dr. Angela Dunn on overcoming the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to Utah

    In this week's episode, Utah First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Dr. Angela Dunn, Utah's State Epidemiologist, to talk about her decision to pursue medical school, the advice that her mother gave her that led Dr. Dunn to focus on helping others, and some of the hardest challenges that we've had to face as a state due to COVID-19.

    Then she opens up about some of the harassment that has come from the past year, how we've banded together as a state to tackle COVID-19 head-on, and how she was able to maintain a positive attitude during such a difficult time.

    Dr. Dunn also talks about her experience with being part of an Ebola response in Sierra Leone in West Africa, why it's so important to empower young women to chase their dreams, and being labeled as a one-dimensional person in the public eye.

    For the latest information on COVID-19 visit: https://coronavirus.utah.gov/.

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  • April 19, 2021

    The friends get together to interview Utah's First Lady

    In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by all of the friends again but this time the tables are turned and all of the friends are interviewing Abby to learn more about Utah's First Lady!

    We talk with Kirsten Rappley on what getting proximate really means, how traveling the state helped Abby get proximate with so many different people, and what growing up looked like for the First Lady.

    Then we're joined by Jeannette Bennett to learn more about Abby's decision to become a surrogate mother for her sister-in-law, the type of mother that Abby thought she was going to be compared to the type of parent she actually is, and how she could talk about horses for hours.

    Abby is also joined by Dawn Ramsey to talk about why Abby is so passionate about special education, where she sees herself twenty years from now, and why she would choose to talk with Abigail Adams over anyone else in history.

    Lastly, Shelly Smith joins Abby to go over a bunch of rapid-fire questions, Abby's love of sporting events, and why it's so important to spread love and listen to people's life experiences.

     

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  • April 19, 2021

    Meeting the other friends — Dawn Ramsey and Shelly Smith

    In the second introductory episode of First Lady and Friends, the First Lady speaks with her friend, Dawn Ramsey  (the Mayor of South Jordan and fellow cohost), on when they first met, Dawn's unique education journey, and her decision to run for office.

    Then we dive into why running for local politics can be so vulnerable, what Dawn has been reading lately, and what brings her the most joy.

    The First Lady is then joined by Shelly Smith  (Director of Boards and Commissions and fellow cohost) to talk about how they met, how addiction impacted Shelly and her family, and why it's important to let yourself feel grief and sadness in order to feel better.

    Then we dive into why Steel Magnolias is Shelly's favorite movie, what she's been reading lately, and why baseball is so underrated.

     

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  • April 19, 2021

    Getting to know Kirsten Rappleye and Jeanette Bennett

    In the first episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, speaks with her friend, Kirsten Rappleye  (Director of the First Lady’s Initiatives), about how they first met, how Kirsten first became then Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox's Chief of Staff, and what it was like growing up in a political family.

    We also dive into being vulnerable, what people often get wrong about the working mom, The Queen's Gambit, and our favorite concerts we've ever been to.

    The First Lady is then joined by Jeanette Bennett  (Founder Utah Valley Magazine) to talk about how they first met, Jeanette's passion for journalism, and the moment Jeanette was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 

    Then we dive into why 'Cast Away' is Jeanette's favorite movie and what she has been reading lately. 

     

     

    Play Episode
  • April 12, 2021

    Introducing "First Lady and Friends"

    Join Utah’s First Lady Abby Cox and her friends for timely and candid conversations with fascinating people with unique perspectives in an effort to unite us all through our common humanity. Each week, Abby dives into discussions on topics ranging from education to motherhood to mental health and beyond. 

    Abby is an outspoken advocate for “getting proximate” with people who have different viewpoints and using her platform as Utah’s First Lady to combat the empathy crisis our country is facing. 

    Come along with us as we journey to bring courage, compassion, and connection back into our homes and communities... and have a lot of fun along the way! THANK YOU for being our friend.

    Play Episode