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.
Dr. Anthony Godfrey on setting up Jordan School District educators and students for success
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Dr. Anthony Godfrey (12th superintendent of Jordan School District) to talk about Dr. Godfrey's passion for education, the benefits of the dual immersion program within the state, and why recent emergencies have led to the rise of virtual learning.
We also talk about how the past year has been such a difficult year for our educators, what we can do in the state to help ease the stress and support teacher wellness, and our upcoming Show Up for Teachers Conference on July 12th.
Then we dive into Jordan District's work with unified sports, the enthusiastic support that the program has had throughout the district, and the special bonds that have been created through Unified Sports.
You can learn more about Unified Sports in Utah by visiting https://www.showuputah.org/
You can also learn more about Jordan School District by visiting their website here: https://jordandistrict.org/
To donate to the Jordan Education Foundation, you can visit their website here: https://www.jordaneducationfoundation.org/
Advocating for survivors of sexual exploitation with Elizabeth Smart
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Elizabeth Smart (Advocate & Founder of the Elizabeth Smart Foundation) to talk about Elizabeth's foundation, her work in prevention, recovery, and advocacy for the end of victimization of sexual assault and abuse, and joining the Malouf Foundation to make a bigger impact in the world of prevention and advocacy.
Elizabeth also opens up about how the support she received throughout the years following her abduction has helped her grow as a person, how we can support others who have experienced similar life-altering trauma, and her work with legislation to prevent such disasters from happening again.
We also talk about the importance of educating ourselves about potential red flags that could lead to dangerous situations, how we can use that information to educate and protect our children from such situations, and why having a strong relationship with our children is important in order to have tough conversations that can help protect them in the future.
To learn more about Elizabeth and the work her foundation is doing in the world of advocacy, you can visit their website here: https://www.elizabethsmartfoundation.org/
You can also learn more about the Malouf Foundation here: https://malouffoundation.org/
Elizabeth's podcast can also be found at: https://www.elizabethsmartfoundation.org/smart-talks
More than just a drink with Swig Founder — Nicole Tanner
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Nicole Tanner (Founder of Swig) to talk about how growing up on a farm in Teton Valley, Idaho, helped her develop the skills to be effective in the restaurant business, how Nicole and her husband found the inspiration for Swig, and why you need to trust your heart if you feel that you have a great idea for a business.
We also dive into the reality of starting your own business without financial support, how Swig has been able to expand to over 40 different locations, and the growing trend of "Dirty Soda".
Nicole also opens up about her battle with breast cancer and raising over $300,000 in the past two years through Swig's "Save the Cups" program that helps pay for life-saving procedures for women battling breast cancer.
To learn more about Swig and Save the Cups, you can visit their website here: https://www.swignsweets.com/savethecups/
Roots is redefining what a healthy and productive education can be with Tyler Bastian and Dan Caffee
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Tyler Bastian (Principal/Director and Founder of Roots Charter High School) and Dan Caffee (Governing Board Chair of Roots Charter High School) to talk about the inspiration behind Roots Charter High School, Utah's first farm-based charter high school, the moment they realized that the farm could become a transformational pillar in the community, and why Roots is introducing a new culture to our youth.
Then Tyler and Dan talk about the importance of creating an atmosphere of love and community for the students, who are deemed "at-risk", developing an environment that can bolster personal growth, and how their "243" approach has become a framework for Roots.
We also dive into how Roots graduates transition into the real world, some of the hurdles that they might face due to different educational and workplace settings, and how the idea of radical kindness can change the world.
To learn more about Roots Charter High School, you can visit their website here: https://www.rootshigh.org/
Recapping our “Show Up” Initiatives from the past year with Kirsten Rappleye
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, speaks with Kirsten Rappleye (Director of the First Lady’s Initiatives) to recap the past year of the First Lady's “Show Up” Initiatives, building deep connections with communities in need throughout Utah, and how "Care Communities" can make a significant impact in the foster care community.
We also dive into the fantastic unified sports events that we've participated in the past year, the upcoming Special Olympics Utah Summer Games hosted by Granger High School in West Valley City on May 21st, and how excited we are for Tooele High & Wasatch High Unified Teams to represent Utah in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games at Disneyland this year.
Then we talk about the recent Month of the Military Child event at Air Hill Force Base, the excellent service projects started through the One Utah Summit, and our Kick Off the Summer event on June 24th at Thanksgiving Point that will give Utahns a great opportunity to easily sign up for service projects.
To learn more about the First Lady's "Show Up" Initiatives, you can visit our website here: https://www.showuputah.org/
You can also find more information and events going on with Special Olympics Utah at their website here: https://www.sout.org/
Nikki MacKay & Amanda Walker help bring awareness to foster care in Utah
May is National Foster Care Awareness Month and in this week's episode, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Nikki MacKay (Director of Retention Services) & Amanda Walker (Brand & Marketing Manager) with Utah Foster Care to talk about what influenced them to work in foster care, some of the challenges that they face on any given day, and the various considerations that determine whether a child should be removed from a home.
Then we talk about the need to identify and understand signs of trauma, some of the most significant needs within the foster care community, and why it's imperative to support underrepresented groups during such difficult moments in their lives.
We also dive into the differences between Utah Foster Care and the Division of Child and Family Services and how a healthy and loving family can have on a foster child.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent or get more information from Utah Foster Care, you can visit their website (https://utahfostercare.org/) or call 1(877) 505-5437.
You can also learn more about the Division of Child and Family Services you can visit their website here https://dcfs.utah.gov/ and if you suspect child abuse or neglect is occurring please call the DCFS 24/7 hotline at 1-855-323-3237.
For more information on National Foster Care Month, you can also visit: https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/
Lisa Clark on her passion for improv, The Lisa Show, and remembering her late husband — Chris Clark
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Chris Yadon (Executive Director) and Lisa Clark (The Lisa Show podcast, writer, actor, producer) to talk about what inspired her to pursue improv comedy, the origins of Studio C and Divine Comedy at BYU, and how she met her late husband, Chris, at BYU.
Then Lisa opens up about how becoming a parent helped bring structure to following her passions for long-form improvisation, the success of Once I Was a Beehive, and empowering parents through The Lisa Show.
We also dive into the complications that come with parenting adult children, her late husband's battle with ALS, and how the family was able to navigate such a life-altering diagnosis through laughter and banding together.
To learn more about Lisa, you can find her podcast by following the link: https://www.byuradio.org/lisa. You can also follow Lisa on Twitter @TheLisaShow_BYU
Chris Yadon and Betsy Kanorawski on raising awareness around child sexual abuse
April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month and in today's episode, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Chris Yadon (Executive Director) and Betsy Kanorawski (Chief Program Officer) from Saprea to talk about their Utah roots, the origins of Saprea, and different ways that we can all fight against child sexual abuse.
We also dive into the importance of empowering parents to learn and proactively apply research-based best practices that can reduce the risk of sexual abuse happening and why defending innocence is not defending ignorance.
Then we talk about how the awareness surrounding child sexual abuse has evolved over the years, how teachers can play a role in detecting signs of abuse, and the different ways that members of the community can help survivors of abuse.
To learn more about Chris and Betsy and the work they're doing at Saprea, you can visit the Saprea website: https://saprea.org/
You can also find more information about protecting the welfare of our children at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/
Mike and Liz Mower on bridging Utah communities through faith and service
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Mike Mower (Senior Advisor of Community Outreach and Intergovernmental Relations) and Liz Mower (Community Activist) to talk about the beginnings of their relationship, what life was like raising a blended family, and some great tips when it comes to blending families together.
Then we dive into their work with the local refugee communities in the state, some of the amazing opportunities that are available for all Utahns to help with refugees coming into the state, and why connecting to others is such an integral part of our state.
We also talk about their passion for bringing people of different faiths together within the state, how former guest, Pamela Atkinson, has helped paved the way to bridge all of Utah's religious communities, and some of the amazing stories that have come from the 123 Challenge and #ShowUpForService.
SUU Interim President Mindy Benson on the necessity of investing in our youth
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Mindy Benson (Interim President of Southern Utah University) to talk about growing up in Cedar City, the ways her family's legacy is intertwined with SUU, and how planning high-profile events helped her prepare for her current position at SUU.
We also dive into the various ways that SUU is addressing students' mental health, how digital personas and relationships are impacting real-life social engagement between students, and different ways that we can help prepare young women to become leaders.
Then we talk about SUU's Founders Week events as the university celebrates its 125th anniversary, having Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th United States Secretary of State, serving as the university’s 2022 commencement speaker, and why it's so important to invest in our children to make a better tomorrow.
Liz Owens on how YWCA Utah is helping heal and empower Utahns
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Liz Owens (CEO of YWCA Utah) to talk about her childhood growing up in Provo, UT as a young girl of color, how she's used many of the lessons she learned in her childhood to help guide the work she's doing today, and the events that led her to pursue an education and career that emphasized human rights.
Liz also opens up about promoting awareness surrounding women's issues and equality in Essex, England, the differences within the criminal justice systems between the UK and the US, and what brought her back to Utah.
Then we dive into her work with the YWCA Utah, the importance of taking a trauma-informed approach to many of the day-to-day situations we engage in everyday situations, and how compassion fatigue can begin to affect our own lives if we don't have our own methods of support.
You can learn more about Liz and YWCA Utah at their website here: https://www.ywcautah.org/
Irina Pierpont and Owen Fuller talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and how Utahns can help
Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Irina Pierpont to talk about what her childhood looked like growing up in Ukraine, the events that led her family to migrate out of Donbas, Ukraine, and the devastating reality of the Ukrainian people fighting the Russian army.
Then we are joined by Owen Fuller (CEO - Lucidpress) to talk about his history with the Czech Republic region, various ways that Utahns are showing up to help raise awareness and support for the Ukrainian people, and the need to continue showing support for Ukrainian refugees.
Irina also opens up about her experience working with refugees, all of the ways that Utahns can come together to help ease the trauma that many refugees experience, and the need for empathy towards both the Ukrainian and Russian people.
Rebecca Ford on the impact of the Mr. and Miss Super Amazing Pageant in Toole
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Rebecca Ford (Severe Special Education Teacher & Department Head at Tooele High School) to talk about her passion for teaching and her inspiration to become a special education teacher.
Then we dive into where the idea for the Mr. and Miss Super Amazing Pageant originated, the impact that it has had on the Tooele community, and how we can learn from the pageant to bring Utah closer together.
Bettina Smith Edmondson on becoming the first black person to sit on the Layton City Council
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Bettina Smith Edmondson (Layton City Councilwoman) to talk about growing up in Layton, UT, how faith and education helped her create a bond with other children in the area, and her parents' experience moving to Layton from Mississippi during the 1960s.
Then we dive into the need to recognize and celebrate black history outside of Black History Month, how Bettina's experience going to school in the Davis school district is different compared to students' experiences today, and what ultimately inspired her to run for office.
Michelle Suzuki and Melinda Lewis on some of the struggles that teachers are going through right now
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Michelle Suzuki (SVP Marketing of Instructure) to talk about some of the hardships that many teachers in Utah have had to overcome during the pandemic, how we can help ease some of the stress for our teachers, and some of the ways that Instructure is honoring teachers throughout the state.
We are also joined by Melinda Lewis (6th-grade Teacher with Sand Springs Elementary) who shares her path to becoming a teacher, what her first year of teaching was like, and why it's so important to empower our students to help them achieve success.
Then we talk about what an average day looks like for a teacher, how chemo treatments have impacted Melinda's day-to-day activities, and why teacher compensation and funding need to be addressed.
Amanda Millerberg and Sarah Allred unveil the 123 Challenge and #ShowUpForService
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Amanda Millerberg and Sarah Allred to talk about the launch of the Show Up service committee, how it has highlighted and pushed forward various acts of service within the state, and Utah's passion for charitable giving and volunteerism.
Then we dive into the goal of accomplishing one million acts of service in 2022, the importance of communities banding together through hardship, and how the 123 Challenge can help bring us together as Utahns.
We also share simple steps you can take to start getting involved in service, ways to bridge neighborhood and family, and focusing on finding ways to connect to one another through empathy and service.
You can find more information at ShowUpUtah.org or on Instagram @ShowUpUtah. Tag us in all of your service posts with #ShowUpForService and make sure to spread the word!
Rich Christiansen opens up about uncovering a family secret
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Rich Christiansen (Owner & Founder of Hoodoo Holdings, Author of The Zig Zag Principle, and Founder of Legado Family) to talk about his childhood growing up in Beaver, UT, his amazing father John Christiansen, and how his father's approval guided many decisions in his life.
Rich also dives into the moment he and his brothers uncovered a family secret, his parent's journey with artificial insemination during its early stages of development, and his journey of navigating the truth that he was a donor-conceived child.
Then we talk about Rich's work as an entrepreneur, the importance of building family legacies, and the need to cement traditions that can help bring unity into the family dynamic.
To learn more about Rich and the Legado Family, you can visit their website here: Legadofamily.com/communicate-connect.
Surprise birthday pod featuring Governor Cox!
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Utah Governor, Spencer Cox, to celebrate the First Lady's birthday! We dive into some of Abby's favorite things to do for her birthday, what birthdays used to look like when she was growing up, and what her ideal birthday present is.
Then Abby and Spencer talk about their first date, falling in love, and where Abby would like to live if they didn't live in Utah.
They also dive into what they love about the city and what they miss about living in Fairview full-time.
Pat Jones talks about the need to elevate women in all aspects of life
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Pat Jones (CEO of Women's Leadership Institute, Co-founder and owner of Dan Jones & Associates, and former Utah senator) to talk about understanding the need for equality at a very young age, the impact that sports can have on business, and how her entrepreneurship helped her succeed during college.
Pat also opens up about her experience with market research, how it led her to run for office, and why it's so necessary to have more women at the table in politics.
Lastly, we talk about some of the initiatives that Pat is currently working on with WLI including the ElevateHER Challenge and a political development series, as well as some of the barriers that still exist that limit growth for women in the state.
To learn more about WLI and some of the amazing initiatives that the institute is working on, you can visit their website here: https://wliut.com/
Reunion show with all of the old friends to talk about crypto, new favorite restaurants, and the Utah Jazz!
In this week's episode, we've got a reunion episode with all of the old "Cox and Friends" friends! Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox is joined by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Jon Cox, Owen Fuller, Kirsten Rappleye, and Spencer Ryan Hall to talk about what everyone has been up to since the pandemic started, NFTs and crypto, our latest favorite restaurant spots, and former Boston Celtics' president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, joining the Utah Jazz as alternate governor and CEO.
The Christkindlmarkt in Utah, helping our incoming refugees, and how you can support foster care in Utah
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, is joined by Allyson Chard (Founder of Christkindlmarkt) and Katie Graham (Director of St. Martin's Project) to talk about the great holiday spirit that Christkindlmarkt brings to Utah, the originations of St. Martin's Day, and why you should stop by the market this holiday season.
Then we talk with Amy Dott Harmer (Executive Director of Utah Refugee Connection) to talk about how Utah Refugee Connection focuses on helping to raise awareness for service opportunities throughout the state, how we can help all Utahns feel welcome in our communities, and some of the different ways to help incoming Afghan refugee families.
We are also joined by Rachel Garret to talk about her and her husband's decision to become licensed foster parents, some of the biggest ways that we can all help Utah Foster Care, and some of the biggest misconceptions and stigmas that still surround foster care.
To learn more about Christkindlmarkt, you can visit the website here: https://www.christkindlmarkt-slc.com/
For more information on Utah Refugee Connection and ways to help our incoming refugee families in Utah, you can visit their website here:
To find ways that you can help support Utah Foster Care, you can visit their website here:
Lynda Horne shares some amazing facts about the Utah Governor's Mansion
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, speaks with Lynda Horne (Utah Governor's Mansion Manager) to talk about her roots in education, how it prepared her for the current position as mansion manager, and the history of the mansion.
We also dive into some of the different ways that the mansion has been a hub of service throughout the state's history, how a Christmas tree fire changed the mansion forever, and some of the modern renovations that are taking place now.
Then we talk about the Utah Governor Mansion Artist Series and how it's an opportunity to highlight some of the great artists in the state.
Lastly, we talk about bringing back some traditions to the mansion that were on hold due to COVID-19, and Lynda's favorite thing about working at the mansion.
For public tours of the Governor's Mansion visit https://preservationutah.org/experience/take-a-tour/guided-tours and for scheduled classroom tours, educators can call (801) 533-0858.
Show Up initiative updates with Kirsten Rappleye
In this week's episode of First Lady and Friends, Utah's First Lady, Abby Cox, speaks with Kirsten Rappleye (Director of the First Lady’s Initiatives) to talk about the latest updates with positive work in foster care throughout the state, celebrating families within the community, and the 'Foster Friendly' app that helps provide an opportunity for businesses to give discounts or free services to foster families.
Then we dive into some of the amazing news and events from Special Olympics Unified Sports.
We also talk about the importance of taking care of our educators so they can help support our children during the pandemic and promote positive emotional self-reliance.
Nell Bright shares memories of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in WWII
In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Nell Bright (WWII veteran and member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots [WASPs]) to talk about living in west Texas during the depression, her first flying experience when she was 8-years-old, and receiving her wings from the Army Air Corps that including being classified as an officer, all the while still being considered a civilian.
Then we dive into what some of Nell's missions consisted of during WWII, some of the struggles that came with PTSD at the time, and becoming one of two women stockbrokers in Phoenix after serving.
We also hear from Margo Thurman, Nell's daughter, on the influence that she has had on her own life, the power of having a role model that was a pioneer, and the impact that Jacqueline Cochran (WASP Director) had on women's equality during the war.
You can learn more about Nell's experiences during WWII by watching 'American Veteran' on PBS or by clicking the link below:
Ashley Smith on the Utah Jazz, dance's impact on the youth, and making positive change in Utah
In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Ashley Smith (studio owner and director of SMASH Dance Academy) to talk about meeting her husband, Ryan Smith (executive chairman and co-founder of Qualtrics and Utah Jazz owner), their love and passion for Utah, and how the Utah Jazz fandom helps unify the entire state.
Then Ashley opens up about her love for dance, her decision to open a dance studio, and how dance has been and can be an outlet for so many students during rough times in their lives.
We also dive into the moment when Ashley and Ryan realized that they were going to have the opportunity to become the owners of the Jazz, the amazing responsibility that comes with such an opportunity, and how they've been able to use their platform to help make positive changes in Utah.
To learn more about the organizations talked about during this episode follow the links below:
Growing up in southern Utah with Elder and Sister Holland
In this week's episode, Utah's First Lady Abby Cox is joined by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Sister Patricia Holland to talk about the impact that southern Utah has had on their family's history, growing up with positive leaders in their families, and the impact that it had on their own lives throughout the years.
We also dive into the symbolism behind southern Utah's ruggedness during its early years, the values that we learned because of it, and why mentorship is so crucial to help younger people develop.
Then we talk about empathy's role in leadership, why it's so important to learn how to be vulnerable as a leader, and some of the positives that we can take away from the pandemic.
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.
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.
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.
To learn more about Kristin, you can visit her on Instagram at @kristinandrus and @SisterGoodsGiving
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/
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.
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
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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+.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/.
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.
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.
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.
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.