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First Lady of the United States Jill Biden Delivers Surprise Opening Remarks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – MAY 1, 2024 – To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, new author and former First Lady of Canada Sophie Grégoire Trudeau visited Vital Voices Global Headquarters for Women’s Leadership in Washington, DC for a May 1 book talk. The event was moderated by Huma Abedin, co-host of Morning Mika, longtime aide to Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and board member at Vital Voices.

The book talk started with a surprise appearance by the First Lady of the United States Jill Biden who delivered opening remarks. Vital Voices Cofounder, President, and CEO Alyse Nelson introduced Dr. Biden. Following her remarks, Huma Abedin led a discussion about Grégoire Trudeau’s Closer Together Knowing Ourselves, Loving Each Other, a self-improvement book and memoir.

In the book, Grégoire Trudeau shares about her childhood struggles, an eating disorder that began in her teens and lasted through early adulthood, and her career as a public figure and mother of three. Released in April of 2024, her book is an instant #1 Globe and Mail bestseller, appearing on both the Hardcover Non-Fiction list and the Self-Help lists, and has reached No. 1 on the Toronto Star’s non-fiction and Canadian bestsellers lists.

Memorable Quotes from the Event:

Alyse Nelson:
“In a world that’s being tested by unprecedented — interconnected — challenges, anxiety and fear are at an all-time high. These are the moments when we need each other more than ever. We need connection and compassion more than ever. This month, we are reminded to prioritize our mental health and Vital Voices is thrilled to host this special conversation with Huma Abedin and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. Sophie has dedicated her life and used her powerful platform to de-stigmatize mental health and illness —which is now the focus of her new book, Closer Together.” – Alyse Nelson, cofounder, president, and CEO at Vital Voices.

Huma Abedin:
“It’s very fitting that we’re doing this on Day 1 of Mental Health Month. I think any of us who are parents hear every day about the mental health crisis, not only in our country, but around the world and particularly with the next generation.”

“My father would always tell me when I was growing up that people are like plants, and a plant is only as good as its roots. If you nourish that soil, it doesn’t matter what the wind, rain, snow [does]. The plant is going to be okay, and [Sophie talks about roots in her book and the importance of creating strong roots throughout childhood].”

“I’m trying to raise a son who, not only respects women, but who respects their power.” – Huma Abedin, author, co-host of Morning Mika, longtime aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton and a Vital Voices board member

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau:
 “As an only child, I internalized a lot of the tensions between my parents, and as the years went by there were addictions on both sides of my family in different forms. I kind of wore the cape of, ‘Ok, I gotta save my dad from my mom, my mom from herself and I have to make sure that I’m perfect so that I don’t disturb anything that’s already being disturbed by their own dynamics.’ It’s not an atypical dynamic. We are all in continuum in how we feel attention from our parents growing up. You know, one thing that we tend to forget, and I didn’t know as a child, obviously, is that trauma is not something that’s really bad that happened to you, but it’s also emotional nourishment that should have taken place that never took place—and that leaves a little wiring in your brain and you carry that in all of your adult relationships. So, your inner child is always kind of active.” – Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Author and former First Lady of Canada

Stay connected with Vital Voices and our special guests on social media:

Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
Socials: @sophiegregoiretrudeau
Huma Abedin
Socials: @humaabedin
Vital Voices Global Partnership
Socials: @vitalvoices


About Vital Voices Global Partnership
Vital Voices Global Partnership was cofounded in 1997 by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and the late Secretary Madeleine Albright. Now celebrating 26 years, Vital Voices has directly invested in more than 20,000 women leaders across 185 countries and territories since its inception. Driven by the universal truth that women are the key to progress in their communities and nations cannot move forward without women in leadership positions, Vital Voices has provided early support for leaders who went on to become Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, U.S. Youth Poet Laureates, prime ministers, award-winning innovators, pioneering human rights defenders, and breakthrough social entrepreneurs, including Amanda Gorman and Malala Yousafzai. To advance and expand this work, in 2022 Vital Voices opened the doors to the world’s first global embassy for women, the Vital Voices Global Headquarters for Women’s Leadership. It is a first-of-its-kind space that allows for convening, innovation, planning, and action—all in the pursuit of serving women leaders who are taking on the world’s greatest challenges.