The White House released its list of people who have been invited to join first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff in the first lady’s viewing box on Tuesday night — and they include U2 front man Bono (real name: Paul David Hewson), as well as Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, and Tyre Nichols’s parents.
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“Each of these individuals were invited by the White House because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the president in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies at work for the American people,” the White House said in a statement.
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Some of the more recognizable names attending the address include:
U2 singer Bono
Irish singer-songwriter and Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Famer Bono, who has won more than 20 Grammys with U2, has long been an activist in the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. The White House notes that he has played a “pivotal role” in building public and bipartisan support for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, aka PEPFAR, which is “credited with revolutionizing the provision of life-saving HIV medications in poorer countries and saving 25 million lives worldwide.”
Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi
Paul Pelosi was violently assaulted in the Pelosis’ California home last October by an intruder looking for then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The White House notes that the attack was “politically motivated” and that the intruder confronted Pelosi and asked “Where’s Nancy?” — echoing a question called out by insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Prosecutors have charged a suspect in the attack on Paul Pelosi. The suspect, who has pleaded not guilty to state and federal charges, is being held without bail.
Read more: Body-camera video of Paul Pelosi attack released
Tyre Nichols’s parents, RowVaughn and Rodney Wells
RowVaughn and Rodney Wells are the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man who was severely beaten by police officers after being pulled over for an alleged traffic violation in Memphis, Tenn., on Jan. 7. They were invited by Rep. Steven Horsford, the Democrat from Nevada who is also chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Nichols died days after being beaten, galvanizing the national discourse around police brutality once again. Horsford said that it’s important for Nichols’s parents to hear from the president and their elected representatives in Congress.
Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the Monterey Park gunman
The White House notes that Brandon Tsay “demonstrated remarkable courage” when he disarmed the person responsible for the mass shooting at a Monterey Park, Calif., dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations in January. Tsay has been credited with preventing the gunman, who had killed 11 people and injured another 10, from carrying out a second attack in the nearby city of Alhambra.
Related: Asian Americans felt cultural pride in Monterey Park. Now they say a mass shooting robbed them of its special place in their heritage.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova
Biden gave his 2022 State of the Union address just days after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, and Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova was invited to that address in a sign of solidarity. The first lady has invited her back this year “in recognition of sustained U.S. support for Ukraine nearly a year after Russia launched its unprovoked attack,” the White House says.
Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen
Ruth Cohen and her family were forced out of their home by the Nazi regime, and Cohen was later sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. She immigrated to the U.S. three years after she was liberated from the concentration camp in 1945, and she is now a volunteer at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is a special guest of second gentleman Douglas Emhoff.
Here are the rest of the White House guests, in alphabetical order, paraphrased from the administration’s press release:
Maurice and Kandice Barron (New York, N.Y.)
The Barrons’ three-year old daughter, Ava, is a survivor of a rare form of pediatric cancer. Maurice Barron had written to the president to express gratitude for the Bidens’ commitment to the Cancer Moonshot initiative and to share his family’s experience.
Lynette Bonar (Tuba City, Ariz.)
Lynette Bonar is an enrolled member of Navajo Nation and served as a sergeant and medic in the U.S. Army. Jill Biden joined Bonar in 2019 to celebrate the opening of the Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation’s Specialty Care Center, the first cancer center opened on a Native American reservation.
Deanna Branch (Milwaukee, Wis.)
Deanna Branch shared her family’s experiences with lead exposure with Vice President Kamala Harris in Milwaukee in 2022 and at the White House in 2023. She is working to build a lead-safe environment for her community after her son, Aida, battled lead poisoning as a result of unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water and home.
Kristin Christensen and Avarie Kollmar (Seattle, Wash.)
Kristin Christensen is a mother of three and a caregiver to her husband, who was medically retired from the Navy due to combat-related injuries. She and her daughter, Avarie, advocate for children of military members and veterans who live in caregiving homes and are known as “hidden helpers.” They are working with the first lady’s initiative to support military and veteran families, survivors and caregivers.
Mitzi Colin Lopez (West Chester, Pa.)
Mitzi Colin Lopez came to the United States from Mexico when she was 3 years old. As a Dreamer, she applied for and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status in 2015 and has since graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She is an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.
Maurice ‘Dion’ Dykes (Knoxville, Tenn.)
Dion Dykes is training to become a teacher through a registered apprenticeship program. This is one of the pathways supported by Tennessee’s strategic Grow Your Own effort, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2022 with support from the American Rescue Plan.
Kate Foley (Arlington Heights, Ill.)
Kate Foley is a 10th-grade computer-integrated-manufacturing student at Rolling Meadows High School in Illinois, a public high school that prepares students for careers through partnerships with the local community college, work-based learning opportunities with employers and career-advising programs.
Darlene Gaffney (North Charleston, S.C.)
Darlene Gaffney was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in March 2015. The first lady met with Gaffney at the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center during a visit to promote breast-cancer awareness in 2021. Last year, the president and first lady reignited the Cancer Moonshot initiative, setting ambitious goals to end cancer.
Doug Griffin (Newton, N.H.)
Doug Griffin lost his 20-year-old daughter, Courtney, to a fentanyl overdose in 2014. Now he is supporting other families that are affected by addiction, raising awareness about the stigma associated with addiction and calling for better access to services to treat substance-use disorders.
Saria Gwin-Maye (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Saria Gwin-Maye is an ironworker and member of Ironworkers Local 44 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She recently introduced the president at the Brent Spence Bridge in Covington, Ky., which is being rebuilt through a major investment thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Jacki Liszak (Fort Myers, Fla.)
Jacki Liszak is president and CEO of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce and is an elected fire commissioner for the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District. She and her husband also own and operate small businesses in the area, which was devastated by Hurricane Ian last year.
Harry Miller (Upper Arlington, Ohio)
Harry Miller is a senior in mechanical engineering and a former football player at Ohio State University. Last year he announced he would no longer continue to be a student-athlete in order to prioritize his mental health. He has since become an advocate for mental health and emotional wellness.
Gina and Heidi Nortonsmith (Northampton, Mass.)
The Nortonsmiths’ advocacy work as plaintiffs in Goodridge vs. Massachusetts Department of Public Health led to their state becoming the first in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. They celebrated this victory by getting married on the first day that same-sex marriage licenses were issued in Massachusetts in 2004. Last year, the Nortonsmiths introduced the president at the Respect for Marriage Act celebration on the South Lawn of the White House.
Paul Sarzoza (Phoenix, Ariz.)
Paul Sarzoza, a small-business owner, is the president and CEO of Verde, a cleaning- and facilities-services company. His biggest customer is TSMC, a semiconductor-manufacturing company, which is expanding because of the CHIPS and Science Act. To keep up with the increased demand for his company’s services, Sarzoza plans to hire 150 to 200 employees in the next year.
Amanda and Josh Zurawski (Austin, Texas)
Amanda Zurawski was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. But her doctors were concerned that providing the treatment she needed would violate the Texas abortion ban, which prohibits abortion care unless a woman’s life is in danger. She developed a life-threatening infection three days later and nearly died because of the delay in receiving treatment. She continues to suffer from medical complications.