Dina Powell, Trump’s first Arab-American appointee, draws bipartisan praise

pwelWASHINGTON:  Dina Powell, Trump’s first Arab-American appointee, draws bipartisan praise 

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Donald Trump has been heavily criticized this week for controversial tweets and a fiery press conference.

However, one announcement from the incoming administration is garnering positive feedback and bipartisan praise: The appointment of Dina Habib Powell as assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives.
Powell, 43, is the first Arab-American to make it into the Trump White House, five days ahead of his inauguration. She was lauded in the transition team statement as someone with “a tremendous talent” and “a stellar record of public service as well as a great career in the private sector.”

Cairo’s daughter
Powell was born in Cairo in 1973 and is fluent in Arabic, the only language she knew before her parents immigrated to the US in 1977.
In their new home in Dallas, Texas, her father Husni, a former captain in the Egyptian Army, worked as a bus driver and ran a convenience store.
Her mother, Huda Suleiman, a graduate of the American University of Cairo, raised the family.
Powell quipped once that her parents, like most Arab-American families, “wanted their daughters to reach their full potential.”
She added: “I joke that they said, ‘We left our homeland so you could pursue your dreams, as long as you’re a lawyer, doctor or engineer.’”
The good education Powell received as a graduate of the Ursuline Academy and University of Texas helped propel her political career as an intern with former Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.
Her work on Capitol Hill, Texas roots and fluency in Arabic later secured her a seat in the George W. Bush administration, where she served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs at the age of 32.
In that capacity, the top ranking Arab-American dealt directly with outreach to the Middle East, joining Cabinet members and presidential envoys on their trips to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
After the Bush years, Powell moved to New York to work on Wall Street, where she joined Goldman Sachs in 2007 as a managing director, and later to become a partner in 2010. Her work at the finance giant involved pioneering efforts to promote women entrepreneurship, such as the “10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses” project that earned Powell wide acknowledgment in the political and business communities.

Bipartisan praise
Following the new White House appointment, Powell was dubbed by CNN as “Ivanka’s woman in the White House,” in reference to Trump’s influential daughter who reportedly enjoys a good working relation with Powell. Contacts between the two started a few months ago as part of Ivanka’s outreach on women’s issues.
Beyond the Ivanka nod, however, Powell’s recognition and praise at her appointment has been coming from both Republicans and Democrats.
Arianna Huffington, a liberal columnist and co-founder of The Huffington Post, tweeted:


Comments are closed