Get familiar with Donald’s right-hand woman
For years, Ivanka has been making headlines for everything from her wealth, to her style, to her controversial marketing tactics. Many view her as the antithesis of her father. But despite some of their stark differences, one thing is for sure: Ivanka is Donald Trump’s biggest supporter and most trusted adviser, and she’s been his right hand in many of the major decisions he’s made in both business and politics.
So exactly who is this woman who has such a sizable impact on the future president of the United States? Here are 10 things you need to know about Ivanka Trump:
When she was born on October 30, 1981, Ivanka was officially given her mother’s first name, Ivana—she called it her “real name” in an interview with US Weekly. Ivanka is a diminuitive of Ivana in Czech (her mother’s nationality), and that’s what she’s gone as for most of her life.
A Czechoslovakian-born businesswoman, socialite and former model, Ivana was Donald’s first wife. After they tied the knot in 1977, they had three children: Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric. The couple divorced in 1992. Ivanka remains close with her mom despite her relationship with her father: “My mother is my inspiration,” she said in a 2016 interview with People. “She was the ultimate role model.”
Growing up, Ivanka was more interested in delving into the creative worlds of ballet, acting, and modeling. According to The New York Times, the first time she ever appeared on TV was in 1997, when she co-hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant. She told US Weekly that she also performed in The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center as a child, and she even auditioned for the role of Cosette in Les Misérables. (She didn’t get it.) When she was 15, Ivanka landed modeling gigs with the likes of Versace and Tommy Hilfiger.
However, she shifted gears after she graduated from high school and went to Georgetown University in 2000. In her book The Trump Card, Ivanka said the modeling industry’s culture compelled her to end her career. “Models were the meanest, cattiest, bitchiest girls on the planet … entitled, unsupervised, undereducated, pampered teenagers whose every success came as the direct result of someone else’s disappointment,” she wrote. She later transferred to her dad’s alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics in 2004.
While Donald Trump’s election as president and $3.7 billion net worth may have landed him the number two spot on the Forbes “World’s Most Powerful People” list, Ivanka has her own impressive resume. She joined the Trump Organization in 2005, and in her most recent role as Vice President of Acquisitions and Development, she’s spearheaded some of the company’s most high-profile deals—including the recent $200 million transformation of the historic Old Post Office in Washington D.C. into a lavish hotel. According to the Trump Organization’s website, Ivanka co-founded Trump Hotels with her brothers Eric and Donald Jr., and was responsible for managing the hotels’ interior design as well as their international real estate brokerage.
In 2007, Ivanka kick-started a luxury jewelry collection that aims to turn the traditionally male-centric diamond market on its head. Rather than targeting men, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry markets specifically to modern professional women who can afford to buy their own bling. A few years later, she started her own fashion label—the Ivanka Trump Collection—complete with clothes, shoes, handbags, and more designed for working women. Ivanka also launched a lifestyle website associated with her fashion brand that provides career and fashion tips to women. She has also written two books—The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life (2010) and the upcoming Women Who Work (2017). Her net worth is an estimated $150 million, according to Mic.
However during the election, some critics felt that her business interests mixed too closely with politics. She was criticized for her brand’s marketing tactics after it promoted sales of the outfit she wore to the Republican National Convention, and jewelry worn in a post-election interview on 60 Minutes. The company’s president Abigail Klem said in a statement about the 60 Minutes incident that the company was “still making adjustments post-election.” Red flags were also raised when Ivanka attended her father’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in November when The New York Times reported that she was finalizing a licensing deal with a Japanese clothing company at the time. Japan’s government is a stakeholder in the business, although per The Independent, there are no reports currently indicating that Ivanka spoke with the prime minister about the deal.
Ivanka met her husband Jared Kushner—an entrepreneur, investor, and real estate developer who also owns The New York Observer—in 2007, when a mutual friend and a real estate broker set them up on what was supposed to be a business lunch. “They very innocently set us up thinking that our only interest in one another would be transactional,” Ivanka told Vogue in 2015. “Whenever we see them we’re like, the best deal we ever made!” She converted to Orthodox Judaism (Kushner’s faith) before the pair exchanged vows in 2009 at her father’s private New Jersey golf club.
Ivanka and her husband have three children: Arabella Rose, 5; Joseph Frederick, 3; and Theodore James, 10 months. Just a few swipes through the endless photos of her kids’ smiling little faces on Instagram and Twitter shows just how important making time for her family really is to her. “I try to carve out special time with each of them,” she told People in July. “[Jared and I] work really hard during the week and we really prioritize weekends for just being sort of reconnected as a family.”
The relationship between Donald Trump and his son-in-law has always been a close one: “From the first time Jared and my father met, they liked each other,” Ivanka told Harper’s Bazaar. “They initially bonded over me, and then they bonded over real estate.” And if it wasn’t for Kushner, there’s no telling if the Trump presidential campaign would’ve been as successful as it was. According to his profile in Forbes, he was the driving force behind everything from social media efforts and finance management to policy research and schmoozing. But not only was Kushner largely responsible for clinching The Donald’s presidency; Forbes reports that he did it at about half the cost of the Democratic campaign.
Before Donald and Hillary duked it out during last year’s race, Ivanka and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton were spotted hanging out on several occasions. But for the sake of the election, the women decided to temporarily go their separate ways. “I still consider [Chelsea Clinton] a very close friend,” Ivanka told Harper’s Bazaar in August 2016. In September of the same year, Clinton echoed Ivanka’s sentiments. “We were friends long before this election. We will be friends long after this election,” she said on ABC’s The View. However, Ivanka told 20/20’s Deborah Roberts that while she still considers Chelsea a friend, they haven’t spoken since the campaign.
Ivanka has been an outspoken advocate for certain key women’s issues. During her speech at the Republican National Convention last July, Ivanka made a case for equal pay for women, better child care options, and paid maternity leave: “As a mother myself of three young children, I know how hard it is to work while raising a family,” she said. “And I also know I’m far more fortunate than most. American families need relief. Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties, they should be the norm.”
However, Ivanka faced criticism when, in August, the Washington Post reported that G-III (the company that designs and distributes her clothing line) does not offer its employees paid maternity leave. (Ivanka does not run G-III and therefore has no say over the company’s policies.) A spokesperson for Ivanka told TIME that the Ivanka Trump brand, her own company, offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave and said, “She can only be responsible for her own business and try to set an example for others.”
After she told Good Morning America in September that the eight-week maternity leave policy applies to all of the employees at the Trump Organization, The Huffington Post revealed that the employees at Trump hotels in multiple locations, including New York and Palm Beach, do not have the option to take paid maternity leave. Deirdre Rosen, the Trump Organization’s senior vice president of human resources, told Huffington Post that policies and practices at the company vary from property to property.
That same day, Ivanka had a tense interview with Cosmopolitan when a reporter asked her about why the plan didn’t address paternity leave. Although Ivanka tried to avoid the question, the reporter repeated her question three times, and eventually asked what the plan would mean for same-sex couples. “The policy is fleshed out online, so you can go see all the elements of it. But the original intention of the plan is to help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth,” she responded.
When asked about her father’s prior comments about pregnancy being inconvenient for business, Ivanka retorted, “I think you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don’t know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you’re going to make a comment like that.” She cut off the interview shortly thereafter.