Dina Powell is the Trump administration’s Ms. Fix-It.
The deputy national security adviser for strategy, one of the few White House aides with extensive experience in a past Republican administration, has taken on a large list of responsibilities touching on foreign and domestic policy.
Besides serving as a deputy to national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Powell was asked by senior adviser Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, to serve in a new office tasked with using private-sector ideas to overhaul the federal government.
Powell, who speaks Arabic and moved to the United States from Egypt at the age of 4, is also advising President Trump and his daughter Ivanka on economic initiatives.
Her rising power has brought additional scrutiny on the 43-year-old, who has come under criticism from some Trump loyalists and outside conservatives for her work at Goldman Sachs. Some accuse her of being a “Democrat in disguise.”
Her boosters inside and outside the White House say such claims are laughable given her years working for former President George W. Bush’s administration and for congressional Republicans, including former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas).
“I don’t think she started life as a Trump person, but remember, she worked for Dick Armey. She didn’t start life as a left-winger,” said former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), an informal adviser to Trump. “She was with us when we were getting some very conservative things accomplished.”
Powell spent the past decade in New York working at Goldman Sachs, where she led the bank’s nonprofit foundation. She oversaw the 10,000 Women initiative, which provides mentoring and networking opportunities for female entrepreneurs.
Her work caught the eye of Ivanka Trump, who cold-called her following the election to discuss the program, according to a source familiar with the conversation.
Powell began informally advising the influential first daughter during the transition and was hired by then-President-elect Trump in January to work on issues related to entrepreneurship, small businesses and women’s empowerment.
For Powell, who has two children, that continues to be a part of her portfolio. This week she sat in on a roundtable meeting for female business owners hosted by Trump and Vice President Pence.
As deputy national security adviser, Powell has been directly involved in preparations for meetings between Trump and the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and China. She’s working with McMaster on long-term strategy and helping lead the interagency process with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis and leaders of the intelligence community.
At the age of 29, Powell succeeded Clay Johnson, a close confidant of Bush, to become the youngest person ever to direct the presidential personnel office, which was tasked with identifying hundreds of appointees and top staff members across the federal government.
“She has get-it-done skills,” said Johnson. “That is exactly her strong suit. She’s a doer.”
She then served as assistant secretary of State for educational and cultural affairs under Karen Hughes, who was Bush’s head of public diplomacy.
Powell’s experience has made her stand out in a White House wracked by infighting that has struggled to master the art of governing.
SOURCE: JORDAN FABIAN