“We left our homeland so you could pursue your dreams—as long as you’re a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer.”
This is a joke many immigrant children are familiar with, and Dina Habib Powell was no stranger to it. Powell was born in Cairo, Egypt, and moved to Austin, Texas with her parents when she was four. Growing up, her hummus and falafel lunches, and inability to speak English, made her feel out of place. Years later, her Arabic descent is what made her stand out. With her initiative and willpower, Powell has become one of the most influential women in the world.
After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, Powell was offered an internship with former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. At 29 years old, she became the youngest ever person to direct the Presidential Personnel Office under the Bush Administration. In 2007, over a decade after she started working in the White House, Powell took her experience and ambition to Goldman Sachs as the managing director of Global Corporate Engagement. She then quickly rose up to became president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, where she did her most impactful work.
At Goldman Sachs, Powell dedicated herself to running the firm’s global philanthropic efforts, including 10,000 Women, an initiative launched in 2008 that helps local economies grow by “providing women entrepreneurs around the world with business management education, mentoring and networking, and access to capital.” The program was launched in response to research conducted by the Goldman Sachs institute, which found that increasing the number of women in the workforce could increase global income per capita as much as 20% by 2030. Not only does it help the revenue growth and job creation, but empowering women can create a multiplier effect that positively affects the welfare of future generations. Powell cites that 90 percent of the women in this program are mentoring at least one other woman, or finding ways to provide education or health care in their local communities.
Many have commended Powell’s ability to not only come up with ideas but also her ability to execute them without fail. Her colleagues also unanimously agree that she has an uncanny ability to foster partnerships. For example, while she worked under the Bush administration, she connected business leaders with the government to provide disaster relief. In an incidental meeting with Pattie Sellers, the executive director of the Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Powell decided to start a mentoring program called the Fortune/US State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership.
Powell is currently back in the White House working under the Trump administration as his economic assistant and senior counselor for economic initiatives. Just recently she was promoted to Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy. Though she is dubbed as “Ivanka Trump’s right-hand woman,” Powell is one of the few people in the new administration that both parties agree will be an effective leader that will work toward advancing the societal and economic standing of the country.
Powell is an outstanding example of what it means to use power for good. She has not only managed to lead initiatives like 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses, but her philanthropic and policy-making efforts have created a platform for the empowerment of women and minorities worldwide. Her ability to establish partnerships and turn ideas into tangible results have made her successful in her career; however, it’s her passion, drive, and desire to give other people what she has, that have made her someone all young women should look to as a role model.