Laura Lane Welch Bush (b. November 4, 1946, Midland, TX) is the wife of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Southern Methodist University in 1968, and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of Texas in 1973. Upon graduation, she worked as a librarian and elementary school teacher in the inner-city schools of Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Laura Welch and George Walker Bush married in 1977 and their twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were born in 1981. When her husband was elected governor of Texas in 1994, she became the First Lady of Texas from 1995 to 2000 and implemented many initiatives focused on health, literacy, and education.
With the inauguration of George W. Bush as President in 2001, Mrs. Bush assumed the role of First Lady of the United States. She became a key advocate of President Bush’s public education reforms stemming from the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, and introduced the “Ready to Read, Ready to Learn” initiative, which stimulated better methods of early childhood education. To encourage reading at all ages, Mrs. Bush instituted the annual National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC in 2001. Mrs. Bush encouraged reading globally as well when she and the President hosted the first White House Conference on Global Literacy in 2006. Following the attacks of September 11, 2001 and the beginning of the War in Afghanistan, Mrs. Bush became an ardent supporter of women in Afghanistan. When presenting the Presidential weekly radio address in November 2001 – the first ever recorded by a First Lady – Mrs. Bush spoke against the Taliban’s treatment of women and children. Mrs. Bush served as honorary chair of the U.S. – Afghan Women’s Council and in 2008, she delivered a presentation at the International Conference (Centre de Conferences Internationals) in support of the people of Afghanistan.
After President Bush left the White House and return to Texas in 2009, Mrs. Bush’s memoir, Spoken from the Heart, was published in May 2010. Mrs. Bush remains actively involved in issues of national and global concern through the George W. Bush Institute, a policy institute that is part of the Center and operated by the George W. Bush Foundation. She continues to emphasize education, health care, and human rights for women.