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

  • 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.

    Play Episode
  • 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.

    Play Episode
  • 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/

    Play Episode
  • 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.

    Play Episode
  • 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.

     

    Play Episode
  • 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.

    Play Episode
  • 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.

    Play Episode
  • 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/.

    Play Episode
  • 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.

     

    Play Episode
  • 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.

     

    Play Episode
  • 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