Kellyanne Conway has spent 2016 breaking glass ceilings for women across the nation.
The former campaign manager has been tapped to serve as the counselor to the president, making her the highest-ranking woman in the White House. And just last month on Nov. 2016, she became the first female campaign manager to win an election for a presidential candidate.
“Kellyanne Conway has been a trusted advisor and strategist who played a crucial rule in my victory,” the President-elect said in a statement on Dec. 22. “She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message. I am pleased that she will be part of my senior team in the West Wing.”
As a politician, Conway uses her strength and tenacity to navigate a male-dominated system. “I’ve been in a very male-dominated business for decades,” she told the The New Yorker in an interview. ” I found, particularly early on, that there’s plenty of room for passion, but there’s very little room for emotion … I tell people all the time, ‘Don’t be fooled, because I am a man by day.'”
Now she will be taking on one of the highest positions in Trump’s team. For more information, here are nine facts about Trump’s right-hand woman.
Conway’s mother and father divorced when she was three so she was raised in a home full of women. “I grew up in a house with my mom and her mom and two of my mother’s unmarried sisters,” Conway told Newsmax in a 2008 interview. “Four Italian Catholic women raised me.”
Also, Conway credits her conservative values to the household where family, faith and self-reliance were prioritized. “We were not encouraged or allowed to complain or talk about what we didn’t have,” she added.
Conway studied political science at Trinity College in Washington, D.C., where she graduated magna cum laude. She then went to Oxford University and was elected into Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious honors society. Afterwards, she attended George Washington University for her law degree, where she also graduated with honors. Since graduating, she practiced law and clerked for a judge in Washington, D.C. Then for four years she worked as an adjunct professor at George Washington University Law Center.
According to her, her experience working for eight summers on a blueberry farm is what shaped her formidable work ethic. On the farm, she would pack blueberry crates. “The faster you went, the more money you’d make,” Conway told NJ Advance Media in an interview. “I wouldn’t stop to drink for hours. I would just keep going.” Her hard work and determination at such a young age are what inspired her to become an entrepreneur. “Everything I learned about life and business started on that farm,” she added.
Conway is the founder and owner of Polling Company, which was established in 1995. Her company has worked with Republican candidates for over two decades, helping them appeal to female voters. Her clientele includes various conservative politicians and organizations, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, former 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and the National Rifle Association.
WomanTrend, on the other hand, is a part of The Polling Company that researches ways to help corporate America connect with female consumers. The company monitors women’s spending habits, lifestyles, work and home environments, entertainment interests and any other trends that affect consumers.
Regardless of gender, the counselor to the president is the highest-ranking assistant to the President. With her new role, Conway will continue to have, as she described, “Trump’s ear and trust” as one of his closest advisers. In an interview with “New Day,” she explained that her job portfolio will be “whatever the President wants it to be.” Her role is likely to include communications and data analysis. She will also work with senior leadership to execute the Administration’s legislation plans.
Conway has been credited for being a moderator for the President-elect. During the general-election raise, she was able to, as Vanity Fair writes, “reign in [her] tempestuous candidate by focusing his energies into a near-constant stream of rallies across the country.” She also managed to convince him to stop tweeting a majority of his outbursts. Instead of blocking him from Twitter, she told New York Mag, “I would say, ‘Here are a couple of cool things we should tweet today.’ It’s like saying to someone, ‘How about having two brownies and not six?'”
During a campaign season riddled in controversy, Conway was able to expertly answer difficult questions thrown her way, especially those about Trump’s most controversial statements.
For example, when when a high-school girl asked Conway how she could “rationalize” Trump’s alleged history of sexual harassment, Conway confronted the issue by turning the tables on the 17-year-old. “For you to use sexual assault to try to make news here is unfortunate,” Conway said. “Women are tired of the same argument and the same thing you are presenting to me right now.” Instead, Conway shifted the conversation by talking about job creation, the economy and ISIS.
When she turned down the press secretary position, she discussed the demanding hours and workload of a senior position in the White House. “Before I can accept that job, I have to recognize that I’m a mother of four children who are at very tender, very fraught ages – 12, 12, 8 and 7 – and I can’t just say, ‘Oh, but they’ll be okay,'” Conway said in an New York Times interview.
However, in accepting her new position, Conway’s concerns about her familial obligations were assuaged after seeing how “pro-family” the President-elect is. According to her, she is convinced that Trump’s West Wing will be “family-friendly” because of how Trump spends time with his own wife, children and grandchildren.
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Because of their long history together, Conway, as a senior Republican Party official has told TIME, is adept at managing someone “who doesn’t want to feel managed.”
Now she’s getting to work with him for the years to come. “I want to thank the President-elect for this amazing opportunity,” Conway said when accepting the position. “A Trump presidency will bring real change to Washington and to Americans across this great nation. I am humbled and honored to play a role in helping transform the movement he has led into a real agenda of action and results.”
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