1. Betty Ford (Elizabeth Ann Bloomer)-Married To Gerald Ford, Was The First Lady From 1974-1977Source:Getty
Taking cues from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Ford was heavily involved in human rights and the counter cultures of the ’70s like feminism. She ruffled Republican feathers in being pro-choice & speaking of the sexual revolution. She also experienced alcoholism & had breast cancer. After treating her addiction, she cemented her leadership through the still-standing Betty Ford Center for other patients.
2. Rosalynn Carter (born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith)-Married to Jimmy Carter, The First Lady From 1977 to 1981Source:Getty
The Carters are known as one of the most gregarious First couples ever, and Mrs. Carter was a stout activist for women, children, the impoverished & mental health. She and Jimmy Carter opened the non-profit Carter Center, she hosts the annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, and is President of the influential Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. Her inspiring resume is matched by her humility.
3. Nancy Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins)-Married to Ronald Reagan, The First Lady from 1981-1989Source:Getty
Reagonomics ruled the ’80s and Nancy was best known for her participating in massive “War on Drugs” in simply asking the youth to “Just Say No.” Her activism in drug prevention made her a star of her own and she has the unique distinction of being the first First Lady to address the United Nations General Assembly in 1988. After the death of husband Ronald, she later became an advocate for stem cell research.
4. Barbara Bush (born Barbara Pierce)-Married To George Bush Sr., The First Lady From 1989-1993Source:Getty
Born in Queens, NY, raised upstate and the daughter of a prominent publishing family, Bush’s passion charity was to improve literacy after her son Neil was diagnosed with dyslexia. She founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in 1989 & continues to vouch for its programs today. Interestingly, as a First Lady, while the Republican party promoted anti-abortions campaigns, she was quietly pro-choice.
5. Hillary Clinton (born Hillary Diane Rodham)-Married To Bill Clinton, The First Lady From 1993-2001Source:Getty
First Lady Hillary has had an influential presence from Bill Clinton’s presidency & beyond. One of her first major undertakings was forming the Office on Violence Against Women in the Dept. of Justice with Janet Reno. Later in 1997, she fought and initiated both the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and Adoption and Safe Families Act. Today, she’s President Obama‘s Secretary of State.
6. Laura Bush (born Lane Welch)-Married To George W. Bush, The First Lady From 2001-2009Source:Getty
A popular First Lady during one of America’s most controversial presidencies, as Barbara’s daughter-in-law, Laura also vouched for improving literacy, but championed for breast cancer awareness in the U.S. and overseas. Impressively awarded a handful of accolades, including American Library Association and the Librarian of Congress honors, the Laura Bush Foundation has granted over $1 million to U.S. schools.
7. Michelle Obama (born LaVaughn Robinson)-Married To Barack Obama, The First Lady From 2009-presentSource:Getty
The first Black woman First Lady, Michelle has been a visionary and inspiration. Of the women’s liberation generation, this Chicagoan’s charity work heavily involves women’s rights and bettering health education & practices. During this historic time, her most admirable ventures are Let’s Move!, supporting protection of veterans, LGBT rights & in 2015, she will co-lead the Let Girls Learn global effort in education.
8. Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, 2014Source:Getty
As Compton’s youngest mayor at 32, the Democrat dreamed worked towards a career in politics and economy since her undergrad & graduate days at USC. Prior to winning a historic campaign, had 10 years of urban planning, and sought to bring safety and educational programs into the formerly notorious SoCal neighborhood. In a ABC News profile, crime has gone down 25% since she’s been in office!
9. Chirlane McCray-Married To NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady From 2014-PresentSource:Getty
This impressive First Lady has recently announced an initiative where she will be improving and expanding mental health services in NYC. She is a chairwoman of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. McCray says she’s happiest when she’s united with her husband, Bill de Blasio, behind a common cause.