The White House Announces Guest List for the First Lady’s Box for the 2024 State of the Union Address

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – First Lady Jill Biden will welcome guests to join her in the viewing box for President Biden’s State of the Union Address on Thursday, March 7, 2024. Each of these individuals were invited by the White House because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the President in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies at work for the American people. The Second Gentleman, Mr. Douglas Emhoff, will also join the First Lady in the viewing box.
 
The following individuals, listed in alphabetical order, will be seated in the box with the First Lady and Second Gentleman:
 
Latorya Beasley (Birmingham, Alabama)
Beasley and her husband had their first child through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2022 and were in the process of expanding their family through another round of IVF when her embryo transfer was abruptly canceled as a result of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision. Her recent experience is yet another example of how the overturning of Roe v. Wade has disrupted access to reproductive health care for women and families across the country.
 
Kris Blackley (Fort Mill, South Carolina)
Blackley is an oncology nurse and the Director of Patient Navigation for the Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, part of Advocate Health. She has published research related to patient navigation showing improved outcomes, including decreased readmissions, increased treatment compliance, and equity in care. In 2023, the Biden Cancer Moonshot announced new actions to expand access to patient navigation services — services that help guide individuals, caregivers, and families through cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship. In February 2023, the First Lady visited Atrium Health, where Blackley shared how the health system plans to bring patient navigation services to more cancer patients and their loved ones as a result of the Biden-Harris Administration’s actions.
 
Jazmin Cazares (Uvalde, Texas)
Cazares is a leading advocate for gun violence prevention at the state and national level. After her sister Jackie was killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, Cazares spent her senior year of high school traveling across the country and sharing Jackie’s story. She spoke alongside March for Our Lives leaders at the Texas State Capitol and testified before lawmakers to advocate for tighter background checks and extreme risk protection order laws. In 2023, Cazares was honored by the First Lady during the first-ever “Girls Leading Change” celebration at the White House.
 
Kate Cox (Dallas, Texas)
Cox is a mother of two from Texas who has experienced the devastating consequences of state abortion bans and courageously spoke out about her experience seeking the care she needed to preserve her health. Cox is one of the first women in 50 years to have to turn to the courts to ask permission to receive the abortion that her doctor recommended. She was ultimately forced to travel out of state for care that she would have been able to receive if the protections of Roe v. Wade were still in effect. 
 
Samantha Ervin-Upsher (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Ervin-Upsher is an apprentice with the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 432 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is 23 years old and a mother of two. In 2023, Ervin-Upsher met the First Lady during a visit to Pennsylvania to highlight the Investing in America Workforce Hub in Pittsburgh, an initiative that seeks to build career pathways through high schools, community colleges, and unions to job opportunities fueled by President’s Biden’s investments.
 
Shawn Fain (Metro Detroit, Michigan) 
Fain is a 29-year member and the current President of the United Auto Workers (UAW). Hailing from a family of UAW members, Fain got his start with UAW Local Union 1166 as an electrician for Chrysler at the Kokomo Casting Plant in his hometown of Kokomo, Indiana. In September 2023, President Biden joined Fain and UAW workers on the picket line in Belleville, Michigan, making history as the first sitting President to join a picket line. After hard-fought negotiations and a “Stand-Up” strike that inspired workers across the country, the UAW won historic pay increases, greater retirement security, more paid leave, and more dignity and respect. Their efforts also yielded job security commitments from General Motors, Ford, and Stellantis, including a commitment from Stellantis to bring thousands of good-paying UAW jobs back to Belvidere, Illinois. The UAW’s historic contract immediately led non-union automakers to announce double digit pay raises for their U.S. workers – adding further evidence that when unions do well, all workers do well.
 
Bettie Mae Fikes (Selma, Alabama)
Fikes is an American singer and civil rights advocate who was a Bloody Sunday Foot Soldier in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Known as “The Voice of Selma,” Fikes served as a member of Selma’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Freedom Singers. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, the Library of Congress, and was featured in the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of Tolerance exhibition honoring women of the Civil Rights Movement. In 2023, Fikes joined President Biden to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. This year’s State of the Union Address falls on the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
 
Steven Hadfield (Matthews, North Carolina)
Hadfield has a rare blood cancer and is diabetic—two conditions that require very expensive drugs, including a drug that was selected for the first round of Medicare drug price negotiation. He held several part-time positions because he feared that, if he retired, he would not have sufficient income to pay for the drugs he needs to stay alive. The drug that treats his rare blood cancer costs about $15,000 a month. On top of that, his insulin costs him up to $400 every month. Now, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, Medicare covers his insulin prescriptions with a $35 copay cap per month. And for his blood cancer medications, this year, his Part D out-of-pocket drug costs are capped at about $3,500 and in 2025, he will benefit even more from the $2,000 annual cap on out-of-pocket drug costs.
 
Mayor Garnett L. Johnson (Augusta, Georgia)
Johnson is the Mayor of the City of Augusta, Georgia. In 2023, Augusta was designated by the White House as one of five Investing in America Workforce Hubs, where President Biden’s agenda — including the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act — is driving historic investments and creating good-paying jobs. The Augusta Workforce Hub is led by a partnership between Mayor Johnson and three Augusta regional education institutions focused on training students in growing sectors, such as advanced manufacturing and construction skilled trades, to prepare the next generation for technical jobs in the region. The First Lady was last in Augusta in July and November 2023, to meet with Mayor Johnson and highlight how the local community is working together to expand pathways to careers. 
 
Keenan Jones (Plymouth, Minnesota)
Jones is a public middle school educator in Minnesota’s Twin Cities and a member of Education Minnesota. In April 2023, Jones wrote an email to President Biden to thank him for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which eliminated his remaining student loan debt after 10 years of public service and allowed him to continue his teaching career. Jones is one of the nearly 800,000 teachers, nurses, social workers, servicemembers, and other public servants who have received student loan debt forgiveness since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration.
 
Natalie King (Detroit, Michigan)
King is the founder and CEO of Dunamis Charge, the first-ever African American women-owned electric vehicle charger manufacturing company in the United States. Her company employs over 135 workers and is on track to manufacture 400,000 electric vehicle chargers by 2025. In March 2023, King introduced President Biden at the Small Business Administration’s Women’s Business Summit, where she shared that the Administration’s investments in clean energy and small business owners helped her business thrive throughout the pandemic.
 
Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden
Kristersson is the Prime Minister of Sweden. Sweden is formally joining the NATO Alliance on March 7, 2024, becoming the 32nd Ally. Sweden is a strong democracy with a highly capable military that shares our values and vision for the world. Having Sweden as a NATO Ally will make the United States and our Allies even safer. NATO is the most powerful defensive alliance in the history of the world, and it is as critical today to ensuring the security of our citizens as it was 75 years ago when our Alliance was founded out of the wreckage of World War II.
 
Governor Stephen Roe Lewis (Gu-u-Ki, Sacaton, Arizona)
Lewis is serving in his fourth term as governor of the Gila River Indian Community. Under his leadership, he has prioritized bringing innovative solutions to long-term issues confronted by the Community and Indian Country. In partnership with the Biden-Harris Administration, Governor Lewis has revolutionized how Tribal governmental infrastructure is constructed, which led to the completion of the first new schools on the Reservation in over 100 years and the first solar-over-canal project in the Western Hemisphere.
 
Commander Shelby Nikitin (Wakefield, Massachusetts)
Commander Nikitin is an officer in the U.S. Navy and recently completed her command tour onboard the USS THOMAS HUDNER. Under her leadership, the ship deployed to protect maritime shipping from illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Houthi attacks against vessels transiting the Red Sea. For her ship’s actions in this combat zone, Commander Nikitin was awarded the Bronze Star for her extraordinary leadership and bravery in defending lives and protecting the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways.
 
Justin Phillips (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Phillips is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Overdose Lifeline, a non-profit dedicated to reducing the stigma of substance use disorder and preventing deaths resulting from opioid and fentanyl overdose. Since starting Overdose Lifeline, Phillips has led the organization through program expansion to meet the growing needs of the population. Phillips worked to pass “Aaron’s Law” in Indiana and focuses her advocacy on expanding access to overdose prevention medications. Aaron’s Law allows individuals access to Narcan without a prescription, thus eliminating barriers to receiving the drug and using it to save lives. The Second Gentleman met Phillips and her daughter, Audrey, in 2023 at an event commemorating International Overdose Awareness Day, where the Administration announced additional federal funds to combat accidental overdoses. Phillips is a special guest of Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.
 
Kameryn Pupunu (Lahaina, Hawaii)
Pupunu is a police officer for the county of Maui where he has served for the last five years. In August 2023, his hometown of Lahaina was engulfed in flames during one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S history. Pupunu was one of the many local police officers who performed heroic acts, including saving 15 individuals, from this deadly wildfire. Tragically, Pupunu lost four of his immediate family members to these fires.
 
Maria Shriver (Los Angeles, California)
Shriver is an author, journalist, and founder of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and Strategic Advisor on Women’s Health and Alzheimer’s at Cleveland Clinic. Shriver works to use her voice and platforms to advance some of our nation’s most pressing issues affecting women and women’s health. In November 2023, Shriver joined the President and the First Lady to announce the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, an effort led by Dr. Biden and the White House Gender Policy Council, to galvanize the federal government and the private and philanthropic sectors to spur innovation, unleash transformative investment to close research gaps, and improve women’s health. Shriver’s advocacy has been integral to the initiative and she continues to advise and collaborate with Dr. Biden.
 
Dawn Simms (Davis Junction, Illinois)
Simms has been a member of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 1268 for more than two decades. She’s a third-generation autoworker on at Belvidere Assembly (IL), where she started work in 1999. When Stellantis idled Belvidere Assembly in February 2023, Simms’ son was in the middle of his sophomore year in high school and forced her into an impossible decision: lose her job or relocate to another plant far away from her home (and either move her son or leave him in Illinois). Thanks to the strength and the solidarity of the UAW members, the UAW-Big Three contract secured a commitment from Stellantis to reopen Belvidere Assembly and bring thousands of good-paying middle-class jobs back to Belvidere, stabilizing her family’s future. Today, she is gainfully employed at Stellantis’ auto distribution center in Belvidere. In November 2023, Simms joined President Biden in Belvidere to highlight the reopening of the assembly plant and the return of thousands of good-paying UAW jobs.
 
Rashawn Spivey (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Spivey is the founder and owner of Hero Plumbing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His decision to become a plumber was inspired by his mother, who worked for one of the first Black-owned plumbing businesses in Wisconsin. After graduating from a plumbing program at Milwaukee Area Technical College and completing an apprenticeship with Plumbers Local 75, support from his local union enabled Spivey to launch his own plumbing business. Spurred by investments from the Biden-Harris Administration, Spivey expanded his plumbing business to focus on lead pipe replacements. Spivey and his team have replaced more than 825 toxic lead pipes, primarily at local daycare centers, to ensure safer drinking water for his community and protect children from lead poisoning. Through historic levels of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan, the Biden-Harris Administration is working to replace every lead pipe in America in the next decade.
 
Tiffany Zoeller (Fayetteville, North Carolina)
Zoeller is a military spouse and works as a medical coder at Fort Liberty’s Womack Army Medical Center. In June 2023, Zoeller introduced the President at Fort Liberty to announce the Presidential Executive Order on Advancing Economic Security for Military and Veteran Spouses, Military Caregivers, and Survivors. This Executive Order is the most comprehensive set of administrative actions any President has ever taken to support military spouses, and included nearly 20 new actions aimed at enhancing military spouse career stability, employment resources, and career transition assistance. The First Lady, through her Joining Forces initiative, has worked to eliminate barriers to employment and increase economic opportunity for military and veteran families, caregivers, and survivors.

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