“The passion started at a very young age,” Biden told us. “My dad is a lifelong public servant; my mom was a public-school teacher—it’s in my DNA.”
And that meant Biden got her start early. “When I was a kid, I always really loved animals, and I found out that Bonne Bell lip gloss was testing on animals, so I organized my school to start writing letters to [the company],” she says. “Then I became obsessed with the plight of dolphins getting stuck in tuna nets. My dad connected me with Congressman Barbara Boxer who I nicknamed the ‘dolphin lady’ and she got me onto to the floor to help lobby Republican congressman for The Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act.”
From there, Biden says her interest grew to a focus on social justice and “the unfairness people experience through education opportunities.”
Cut to adulthood, and Biden has 15 years of experience fighting for social equality under her belt and is currently the executive director of the Delaware Center for Justice.
“Every day is really powerful,” Biden says of her work. “Last night one of the case managers got someone a job out of prison, and she went at nine ‘o’clock at night to get him a uniform for his new job, and snapped a photo of him just looking so proud to be back to work and in that uniform. The work we are doing is impacting real people.”
Included in Biden’s hectic schedule is one of her favorite parts of the job, she says — teaching classes to inmates, including one on the science behind substance abuse (in fact, Biden hopped on the phone with Glamour having just left prison teaching a class).
“We focus on neurobiology of the brain and how it relates to addiction. I asked the women in the class, ‘What have you guys been taught before?’ And they said everything they’ve really ever been informed about is side effects from medications. Well, that’s not getting to the root cause.”
While Biden is keeping her day job, she has a new passion project, a line of sweatshirts called Livelihood, that marries two of her favorite things – fashion and social work.
Sold exclusively on Gilt, the unisex line is made in the U.S. and priced between $79 and $99. Most importantly: All proceeds go toward supporting local charitable causes. Initially, funds will go to education, workplace development and job placement initiatives in Wilmington Delaware (where Biden was born) and Anacostia in the District of Columbia (where Biden got her start as a social worker), but she has her sights set on expanding from there.
“The most effective social programs are in local communities,” she says. “They know best where funding should go.”
To the same tune, Biden is eager to get more people involved in local politics, which is why she started the interactive website GetInvolvedInYourHood.com.
“We have to create more awareness around the importance of civic participation,” she says. “Oftentimes we go out and vote during the presidential races, but then stay home during the local elections. We need to figure out in the coming weeks and months how to get people to understand governance better. People talk a lot about apathy, but I think it has more to do with knowledge about how the government works. I wish there was an easy way to explain to people why it’s just as important vote in city council races as it is for the president. These people are the CEOs of our lives.”