Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has admitted to having an extramarital affair a few years ago. He and his wife, Sheena Greitens (nee Chestnut), released a joint statement sharing their personal struggle with the public on January 10.
Aside from being the First Lady of Missouri, Sheena Chestnut Greitens works as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, a position that she has held since January 2015.
She grew up in Washington State and was the oldest of four children. Her mom, Dr. Janet Chestnut, is an oncologist for Group Health Cooperative in Spokane, Washington. Her dad, Dr. Tim Chestnut, works as a pulmonary, sleep medicine, and critical-care physician.
Here is what you need to know:
1. She Is Staying With Her Husband
News 4 obtained a recording in which a woman can be heard saying that she had a “sexual encounter” with Greitens and added that he “blackmailed her” by using a naked photo to keep it “quiet.” The information was released by the woman’s now-ex-husband, who told the outlet that he recorded the conversation with his ex without her knowing.
Shortly after the news story broke, Greitens and his wife released a joint statement, showing a unified front.
“A few years ago, before Eric was elected Governor, there was a time when he was unfaithful in our marriage. This was a deeply personal mistake. Eric took responsibility, and we dealt with this together honestly and privately. While we never would have wished for this pain in our marriage, or the pain that this has caused others, with God’s mercy Sheena has forgiven and we have emerged stronger. We understand that there will be some people who cannot forgive – but for those who can find it in your heart, Eric asks for your forgiveness, and we are grateful for your love, your compassion, and your prayers,” the couple said in a joint statement on January 10.
“We have a loving marriage and an awesome family; anything beyond that is between us and God. I want the media and those who wish to peddle gossip to stay away from me and my children,” Sheena Greitens said in a separate statement.
2. She Married Greitens in 2011 & Is a Mom of 2 Boys
In August 2011, Eric and Sheena tied the knot. They exchanged vows at Beacon Hill, in Spokane, Washington, not far from where Sheena grew up. The wedding was officiated by the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Onstot, a Presbyterian minister, according to the couple’s New York Times wedding announcement. Said wedding announcement also revealed that Eric Greitens had previously been married.
A couple of years after their wedding, the Greitens became a family of three, welcoming their first son, Joshua. He became a big brother when his parents welcomed baby Jacob.
3. She Attended Stanford University, Oxford University, & Harvard
Sheena earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University. She then went on to study as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, before going on to earn her Ph. D. in government from Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
4. She Is an Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri
Dr. Greitens works as an assistant professor, teaching her specialty; political science. She teaches Democracy and Dictatorship (Undergraduate and Graduate), Chinese Politics & Foreign Policy (Undergraduate and Graduate), America’s Wars in Asia (Undergraduate), and Qualitative Research Methods (Graduate), according to the university’s website.
She also serves at the university’s co-director of the Institute for Korean Studies.
“She is a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for East Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution and an associate in research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University,” according to her University of Missouri bio.
5. As First Lady of Missouri, She Focuses on Foster Care & Adoption Initiatives
Sheena and I delivered some Christmas cookies, candy canes, and gifts to HALO, a safe place for homeless children in Jefferson City. We met remarkable, strong, young Missourians—and left inspired. Rather than tell you about them, I’ll let one of them share part of the story of her life. Amari shared this note with me, and with her permission, I’m sharing a piece of it with you (the whole note you can find at the link in the bio): “When I was 6 months old my mother was convicted of murder and sentenced to 13 years in prison. When I was little, I lived with my dad off and on and loved every bit of it. I could be myself, as good or bad as I wanted and he still accepted me…his face was broadcasted on the news for holding a family hostage and shooting a woman in the back of the head. To this day I question whether he actually committed this crime, he was so loving, and caring and kind to so many! Whether he did or didn’t do it, it changed my life forever. All my life I’ve wished for a stable home. A place where i could be myself, where I didn’t have to walk on my tip toes in order to be accepted…I was forced to bounce around from home to home more times than I can count…As everyone may have predicted I became pregnant at 16. Everyone including my mother told me I had to get an abortion, told me not to ruin my entire life for this little dot, little string inside of me, that I wasn’t ready for a child, let alone all the responsibilities. When I saw the ultrasound of this full baby with hands and feet I knew I couldn’t do it. I told my mother I wasn’t getting the abortion…She quickly moved out and left me completely alone. When the eviction notice came, I was left searching for a place to live. That is when I became accepted into Halo. I finally had a place of my own, a safe place for me and my child call home. From that day forward I promised myself and my daughter Zari, I would never make her feel the ways I felt as a child. I will always be there for her, I will always love her whether she is right or wrong, I will be there to protect her, to accept her, I will be there every step of the way. I will never ever leave her alone.”
Sheena Greitens has dedicated a lot of her time to foster care and adoption initiatives, which are things that are very close to her heart.
Sheena Greitens grew up with an adopted sibling. When she was 8 years old, her parents adopted another daughter, whom Sheena is very close to.
“Sheena believes strongly in the importance of protecting our most vulnerable children, and looks forward to working to strengthen families across the state,” reads her bio on her husband’s campaign site.