Trump’s Egyptian-born economic adviser focuses on jobs and women

Dina Powell at microphone (© AP Images)
Dina Habib Powell, President Trump's senior counselor for economic initiatives (© AP Images)

Dina Habib Powell, President Trump’s senior counselor for economic initiatives, brings a wealth of public-sector experience as well as private-sector know-how to the White House.

When Trump announced his plan to appoint Powell, he said she would build new efforts around entrepreneurship, small-business growth and the global economic empowerment of women.

The daughter of Egyptian immigrants, Powell has a global perspective on the potential for women that also informs her work on driving economic growth.

Powell was 4 years old and spoke no English when her parents moved the family from Cairo to Dallas. Powell’s parents stressed the importance of the family’s Egyptian heritage, even when she was a school-age girl who just wanted to fit in.

“I so desperately wanted a turkey and cheese sandwich with potato chips,” she told the Washington Post, “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.”

A college internship in the office of a Texas senator put Powell on the path to public service. At 29, in 2005, she became assistant to the president for presidential personnel in President George W. Bush’s White House — the youngest person ever to hold that office. She also served at the State Department, working in education, cultural affairs and public diplomacy.

After 15 years in government, Powell joined the finance company Goldman Sachs in 2007, where she ran its global philanthropy program, including 10,000 Women, an initiative to help female entrepreneurs further their education, access capital and connect with mentors.

“The Trump administration has a unique opportunity to unleash the untapped potential of small business owners and female entrepreneurs,” Powell said in a press release announcing her appointment. She indicated that partnerships between the public and private sectors would be a critical part of building the economy and creating jobs.