Rosalynn Smith CarterFirst Lady
Birthplace: Plains, Georgia
Rosalynn Smith Carter has long championed the rights of women, children, and the mentally ill. As first lady, she served as honorary chair of the President's Commission on Mental Health. The panel's work led to passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. In addition, she represented President Carter as his personal emissary to Latin American countries.
Mrs. Carter was born in Plains, Georgia, on August 18, 1927. She graduated from Georgia Southwestern College in 1946, the same year she married Jimmy Carter, a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Mr. Carter's service commitment kept the couple on the move during their first years of marriage. They settled back in Plains in 1953 and ran the Carter family farm. Mrs. Carter managed the finances and cared for her children. She worked as an active member of her husband's campaigns for the Georgia state senate, the governorship, and the presidency.
Since she and her husband have left the White House, they have worked tirelessly through their Carter Center (established 1982) on a wide range of issues, including human rights, conflict resolution, empowerment of urban communities, and early childhood immunization. Mrs. Carter has served as the center's vice chairperson of the board of trustees since its inception. The Carters have also been actively involved with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds homes for people in need.
She has written four books, including First Lady from Plains, Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life, Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers, and Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers.