January 19, 2017

USA: Dina Powell, President-Elect Donald Trump’s First Arab-American Appointee, Draws Bipartisan Praise.

Arab News
written by Joyce Karam
Sunday January 15, 2017

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:
Even former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who called Trump a “con man” during the campaign, applauded the appointment, tweeting:
There was also some criticism of the appointment as being the fourth from Goldman Sachs into the new administration.

Ziad Asali, former president of the American Task Force for Palestine, told Arab News that Powell could play a key role “in helping Trump and the Kushners (Ivanka and her husband Jared) navigate the Washington scene” and its many policy quarters.

Asali said he would not be surprised if Powell acquires a lead role in driving Middle East policy, improving Trump’s image in Middle Eastern countries after a campaign that saw a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment. Trump called for a Muslim ban in December 2015, before walking back on those plans less than a year later.

Powell follows in the footsteps of Donna Shalala, Ray Lahood, John Sununu, and a large league of Arab-Americans who made it to the White House and served US presidents.
This big lie spread by the Left about banning all Muslims is outrageous, along with the accompanying lie that Trump will put all Muslim families in concentration camps like the 4-term Democrat President, Franklin D. Roosevelt did with Japanese-American families during WWII. Donald Trump has been referring to the Syrian refugees and the serious need to vet them before they are brought here to America. I mean come on people, Islamic militants already said they were going to blend in with the Islamist refugees and have been caught entering other Western nations already. So why not protect our self-interests, protect OUR PEOPLE, protect OUR LAND. Muslim Americans should agree about wanting to protect all of us from terrorist who have blatantly said they want to kill Americans. We already vet ALL immigrants if they are communist, that's part of the immigration questions, paperwork that must be filled out by anybody wanting to get a green card or visa. Trump never said he was going to ban ALL Muslims or ban ALL Muslim immigrants that has been another lie by the left. AND for heaven's sake, stop acting like victims. You are either for us, or against us. You either want to help our law enforcement or you don't. The common denominator amongst the terrorists worldwide, in the thousands, is they are hardcore practicing Islamist. We're not going to pussyfoot around this issue anymore. Just because Obama erased any mention of Islam associated with terrorism doesn't make it okay. [emphasis mine]

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