February 23, 2021 12:47
U.S. First Lady Jill Biden's assistant Gina Lee has generated a lot of interest in Korea because she is a Korean American.
Last week she spoke with the Chosun Ilbo about growing up in Long Island and her rise to a key position managing the first lady's schedule.
Jill Biden, she says, "is a boss who always tries to do new things and enjoys adventures. And she really wants to help people."
The first lady made a surprise visit to U.S. reservists guarding the Capitol on Jan. 22 and presented the troops with chocolate chip cookies. "So I'm a National Guard mom," she told the troops. Her late son, Beau, was a Delaware Army National Guard member who spent a year deployed in Iraq but died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
Lee describes her boss' engagement as "inspiring."
"Our team makes sure those visits go smoothly, but she comes up with many ideas," Lee said. "She said Valentine's Day was coming up and she wanted to visit a local store to cheer on the American people."
On Feb. 12, just before Valentine's Day, Biden was spotted visiting a bakery with her hair in a scrunchie and captured hearts with her down-to-earth demeanor.
Biden likes to be known as "Dr. Biden" since she is a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College, making her the first presidential wife to keep a job outside the White House.
She is also an advocate for the families of soldiers, aiding cancer patients and free education for community colleges.
"Dr. Biden is truly sincere in everything she does," Lee said. "The Bidens are a military family and they understand what military families need. And as an instructor at a community college, she also knows how community colleges can contribute to regional development."
Lee was born in the southwestern port city of Mokpo in South Jeolla Province in 1988 and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was three. She grew up in Long Island and went to Boston University.
She started her career in government by interning in Senator Edward Kennedy's office and went on to work at the White House during the Obama administration. She then worked for the Biden Foundation from 2017 and was a member of President Joe Biden's election camp from Day One.
"I was able to return to Korea as part of the advance team when Dr. Biden visited Korea in 2015 and stayed for about 10 days, preparing for her visits to a Buddhist temple and other places. It was a special experience to be able to work in my country of birth."
But any repeat visits will have to wait until the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
She said her ascent to the White House means more to her as a family journey than a personal achievement. "After coming to America when I was young, I was able to help the election of the U.S. president. That shows what is possible in the U.S. and what the American Dream is all about."
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