5 Things to Know About Dina Powell

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Photo credit: Getty

From Cosmopolitan

Dina Habib Powell, President Trump's deputy national security adviser for strategy, will leave the White House after serving for one year. Powell, 43, was asked by national security adviser H. R. McMaster to serve in the position, according to Politico, and has been instrumental in Trump's Middle East policy. The Washington Post reports that she's leaving on good terms - unlike other former administration officials - and the decision is her own.

Here's what you need to know about Dina Powell:

1. She began her professional life in politics and had an impressive career in government.

Powell started as a legislative assistant to a Texas state senator while she was a humanities student at the University of Texas at Austin, according to the Washington Post. She later interned with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, in Washington, D.C., and dropped plans to attend law school in order to work for House majority leader Dick Armey. She also worked as the director of congressional affairs for the Republican National Committee when George W. Bush was running for president.

Under Bush, Powell became the youngest person ever to become the White House personnel director, where she managed a team of 35 and oversaw the hiring of over 4,000 people. Bush later nominated Powell to be the deputy under secretary of state for public diplomacy and assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs.

Photo credit: Getty
Photo credit: Getty

While she has been lavished with praise for her effectiveness and professionalism by colleagues in the press, Powell has also been on the receiving end of comments about her looks as well. Armey told the Post in 2005, "We immediately recognized her brains and her ability, and then her charm, and finally, I think somebody noticed she was gorgeous, too." That year, the New York Times spoke to Bush administration officials about Powell. White House chief of staff Andrew Card told the New York Times that she was "extremely attractive" in addition to being "very competent." White House budget director Joshua Bolten described the surprise people expressed when meeting her, a "young, attractive, really well-spoken person."

2. She immigrated from Egypt as a child.

When Powell was 4 years old, her parents left their middle-class existence in Cairo and settled in Dallas, where her father first drove a bus and later opened a convenience store. She attended Ursuline Academy of Dallas, a Catholic prep school for girls.

Her parents "worked seven days a week for all of my childhood that I remember, and they actually believed in the American dream," she said on HuffPost Live in 2013. "For them, that meant becoming entrepreneurs, making enough money to support their family, and seeking their dream of seeing their girls reach their full potential."

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Photo credit: Getty

She told the Washington Post in 2005 that she wanted to feel more culturally assimilated when she was growing up. "I so desperately wanted a turkey and cheese sandwich with potato chips, and instead I always got grape leaves and hummus and falafel, not even in a cool brown paper bag. And now, of course, I appreciate so much that I did."

"I've been given a real gift to come to the United States," she told Gotham magazine in 2015. "That is both an enormous gift and a responsibility."

Powell speaks Arabic fluently and used her language skills during her time at the State Department and at the White House, often traveling to the Middle East to defend Bush administration policies in the region. "She is a celebrity in Egypt," Hesham El Nakib, a spokesman for the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, told the New York Times in 2005. "She restarted exchanges with Iran in ways that I thought not possible," Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice told the Washington Postin 2007.

3. She is a Republican.

Al-Ahram reported in 2004 that in response to a question about why she was a Republican, Powell said, "I grew up in a household that was very Republican. Very pro-Reagan. And it's interesting how much of an impression such things have on you, even as a young child. But I think when I started to work with Republicans I realized that I agree with the views of personal empowerment, of less government involvement, of having the ability to talk about things without the government necessarily being involved."

4. She went from government to Goldman Sachs.

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Photo credit: Getty

Powell left government in 2007 with the distinction of being the top-ranking Arab-American in the Bush administration, according to the Washington Post. She started on Wall Street as Goldman Sachs' first director of global corporate engagement. In her role, she oversaw the bank's philanthropic programs. She later became partner and was president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation and head of the Urban Investment Group, managing hundreds of millions in assets. She focused much of her attention on funding women entrepreneurs with initiatives like 10,000 Women, through which Goldman Sachs partnered with the State Department, including Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state.

"If we really want, in this recession, to help create more jobs around the world and insure economic stability, women are a very smart investment," she told Charlie Rose in 2011. She also said that solving big global challenges would be "in the form of women being empowered around the world."

The New York Times reported in 2013 that Powell made in the range of $2 million annually at Goldman Sachs. The salary was "considered high to some at the firm," according to the Times, and the source of "bitterness among some employees." Thanks in part to her paycheck, Powell and her husband Richard C. Powell, a public relations executive, purchased a $3.85 million condo in New York City in 2007.

5. She has worked closely with Ivanka Trump.

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Photo credit: Getty

Ivanka reportedly first reached out to Powell for help with women's programming, according to CNN. With her extensive network in public and private sectors, and her experience working on women's economic empowerment, Powell's specific skill set has proven valuable for Ivanka especially, who has touted her own enthusiasm for issues like paid leave. Politico reported in February that Powell was spotted at the Four Seasons Hotel restaurant in Washington introducing Ivanka to many of the power brokers in the room.

This article was originally published in March and has been updated.

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