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Utah's new First Lady says she'll work to help vulnerable children, students in her role

Abby Cox, wife of Rep. Spencer J. Cox, lieutenant governor appointee, speaks to the Senate Government Operations Confirmation Committee during a hearing at the state Capitol in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, File)


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IVINS, Washington County — Abby Cox has been Utah's Second Lady since 2013, when her husband, Spencer, was handpicked to fill the lieutenant governor position under Gov. Gary Herbert.

She's had seven years to watch Herbert and his wife, Jeanette, lead the state. And after Spencer Cox was sworn in as governor of Utah Monday at a ceremony near St. George, Utah's new First Lady said she learned a lot from Jeanette Herbert and the former first couple that will help her now.

"I've taken everything that I possibly can," Abby Cox said, "because she's an amazing person and they worked well together. Her Uplift Families initiative has been really successful in helping so many people, and we're close."

Cox said she is already planning some philanthropic initiatives of her own. One will be to support foster care organizations and help identify adoptive parents for children in foster care, she said.

"Another one we're going to be doing is Unified Sports," Abby Cox said. "We're going to help expand the Unified Sports programs in schools." The Unified Sports program helps Utah students with intellectual disabilities participate in sports like soccer and track.

"And then we'll do some more around social-emotional learning," she said, which she explained as the skills needed for children and students to communicate and resolve conflict effectively. These causes have long been a passion for the First Lady, whose college degree was in Special Education.

As for mentors Jeanette and Gary Herbert, Abby Cox said she won't forget them moving forward.

"I felt terrible that this year has not been what they deserved, as far as recognition for their sacrifice," she said.

The Herberts served in the Governor's Mansion for more than 11 years.

"I've told her (Jeanett) we're going to have a gigantic party when it's possible," Abby Cox said, "and have a celebration for them as soon as we can."

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Graham Dudley reports on politics, breaking news and more for KSL.com. A native Texan, Graham's work has previously appeared in the Brownwood (Texas) Bulletin and The Oklahoma Daily.

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