Ivanka Trump, the entrepreneur and executive vice president of The Trump Organization, has been described as the “shining star of the Trump family ensemble” and her burgeoning profile is only set to grow as her father assumes the presidency.
The 34-year-old mother of three, whom her father regularly calls his “favourite”, has been given unparalleled levels of authority in the family business. She has even launched her own namesake brand, Ivanka Trump, selling shoes, clothing and handbags.
Speaking at the Republican National Convention this summer, she appealed to women and younger voters with policy proposals such as such as equal pay – rarely touted by her father on the campaign trail.
“American families need relief,” she told the packed convention arena in Cleveland, Ohio. “Policies that allow women with children to thrive should not be novelties they should be the norm.”
Commentators say she was one of the most important people in Trump’s campaign, with her warmth and reasoning appealing to voters left of her father’s traditional supporters.
Articulate, calm and focused, Ivanka is the “very opposite of her father”, Rachael Revesz in The Independent. “While members of her family are making inflammatory statements and plagiarising speeches… her record remains unblemished.”
So what else do we know about Ivanka Trump?
Ivanka Trump was born in 1981 in New York, the only daughter from Donald Trump’s first marriage to Czech athlete and model Ivana Trump (nee Zelnickova). Ivanka spent her early years among the Manhattan elite studying first at the Chaplin School, whose former alumnae include Jackie Kennedy, and then moving to Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, where JFK studied. Her ability to master many an exclusive social circle has given her an “urbane self-assurance that her father never mastered”, says Politico.
Like father, unlike daughter
In the Trump family business, Donald has given Ivanka a “level of authority none of his wives, or for that matter executives, have ever had”, says the New York Times. She handles some of the Trump Organisation’s biggest deals and along with her two brothers has often preached fiscal conservatism in direct contrast to her father’s bellicosity.
“While her father uses Twitter as a grenade launcher, she treats her well-tended social media feeds, which are notably politics-free, as marketing tools for the Trump Organisation,” notes the newspaper.
Throughout her father’s campaign, Ivanka found herself being used more and more to get across Trump’s political message. A profile in Vanity Fair recently described her as a “proxy wife”, saying this was in part due to the fact that Donald’s current wife, Melania, is not a “conventional campaign spouse”.
“The Trump campaign appears more comfortable using the candidate’s daughter to spread his message than his wife,” the magazine said.
Quartz suggested that Ivanka would serve as Donald’s “actual first lady”.
Conversion to Judaism
Ivanka was raised Presbyterian but converted to Judaism in 2009 to marry husband Jared Kushner. The couple have three children: Arabella Rose, five, Joseph Frederick Kushner, three in October, and five-month-old Theodore James.
She told Vogue last year that the family are kosher and observe the Sabbath, turning off their phones to enjoy time together. “We don’t do anything except play with each other, hang out with one another, go on walks together – pure family,” she said. Ivanka described herself as a “very modern”, but also “a very traditional person”, adding that her conversion was “a great life decision”.
Ivanka Trump rarely discusses her religion, calling it a “personal thing”. However, her father invoked it several times during his campaign to assure voters he was pro-Israel. In March, he told a Republican presidential debate in Miami: “I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter that are Jewish, OK, and two grandchildren that are Jewish.”
Asked last year who he counts on most, Ivanka was the first person Trump mentioned by name – and she may even hold the key to the political direction of Trump’s presidency.
“I think her father really listens to her, and when I say listens to her I mean I think her father respects her a great deal, and not just because she’s his daughter,” said Carl Icahn, a longtime friend of the Trump family.
One Trump campaign insider told the New York Times that Ivanka is “one of a few people who can influence [his] thinking”, highlighting the way she successfully convinced her father to maintain his qualified support for Planned Parenthood in the face of staunch Republican criticism.
Ivanka publicly addressed the lewd comments her father made about women in a 2005 Access Hollywood tape leaked to the press earlier this month, describing them as “clearly inappropriate and offensive”. She was also glad he immediately apologised to their family and the people of America, she said.
In an interview with Fast Company, Ivanka said it had been a year and a half of “enormous scrutiny” for her family and their businesses and actions.
“I’ve probably grown a bit tougher in terms of my resilience toward what is thrown our way because, you know, I’ve read some very negative stuff,” she said.
She was able to “shrug off” the things she reads about her father when she knows they are wrong, she added: “The greatest comfort I have is the fact that I know my father. Most of the people who write about him don’t. I do.”
Abigail Klem, the head of brand at Ivanka Trump, tells the magazine: “I think that Ivanka has a really thick skin. And one would have, if you’ve grown up in the public eye the way that she has.”
No place in administration
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Donald has flirted with the idea of bringing Ivanka to Capitol Hill to serve in his cabinet, noting that she is “very popular” and has “done very well”. But his daughter has made it clear she doesn’t want a “West Wing role”.
In the family’s 60 Minutes interview with host Lesley Stahl for CBS, Ivanka said she was “very passionate” about championing women “but not in a formal administrative capacity”.
She added that she also wanted to promote education and more opportunities for women.
“I’m going to be a daughter. But I’ve said throughout the campaign that I am very passionate about certain issues. And that I want to fight for them,” she said. “Wage equality, childcare. These are things that are very important for me.”
Ivanka Trump told Stahl it was difficult to put into words the emotions she felt when her father was announced as the next president of the United States.
“We had enormous pride, joy,” she said. “It’s incredibly exciting. And we’re very grateful for the opportunity. And we take that opportunity very seriously.”
Trump Organization CEO?
Prior to being elected president, Donald Trump suggested he would put his business into a blind trust to avoid any conflicts of interest throughout his presidency. When pressed to explain his plans in greater detail, however, he blurred matters by suggesting he would hand over day-to-day control of the organisation to Ivanka and her brothers, Eric and Donald Jr.
“If I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts,” he said during a primary debate.
“I have Ivanka and Eric and Don sitting there. Run the company, kids. Have a good time. I’m going to do it for America.”
He continued: “I would put it in a blind trust. Well, I don’t know if it’s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. But – is that a blind trust? I don’t know – but I would probably have my children run it with my executives. And I wouldn’t ever be involved because I wouldn’t care about anything but our country. Anything.”
A Newsweek article published in September raised concerns over Trump’s haziness on the issue. “If Trump moves into the White House and his family continues to receive any benefit from the company, during or even after his presidency, almost every foreign policy decision he makes will raise serious conflicts of interest and ethical quagmires,” Kurt Eichenwald wrote.
Ivanka Trump has been speaking to world leaders
Ivanka Trump was pictured sitting with her father at Trump Tower in New York as he had his first face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan.
It was, said Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a professor of International Relations at the University of Niigata Prefecture, a “quite unusual” situation.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri says he also spoke to Ivanka during his first phone call with the president-elect earlier this month.
Macri, who had a business relationship with Trump for several years, apparently only wanted to “say hello” to the businessman’s daughter, according to his spokesman.
President-elect Trump’s decision to bring his children into his inner circle “has provoked concerns about nepotism, ethics and national security”, The Guardian reports.
It adds: “Trump can easily ignore calls to act otherwise, experts say, and critics will have few options even after he assumes the Oval Office.”
Her daughter can recite Chinese poetry
Trump’s election campaign was littered with references to China, not all of them flattering. He told a rally in Indiana the communist country should not be allowed to continue to “rape our country”, while the first presidential debate saw him accuse the Chinese of using the US as a “piggy bank”.
But that hasn’t stopped Ivanka from posting a video of her daughter Arabella reciting a poem in Mandarin. The president-elect’s five-year-old granddaughter is pictured wearing a red Chinese-style ball gown, with lanterns and the Chinese character for happiness visible in the background.
The clip was recorded in February, but Ivanka’s Instagram post, in which she says Arabella wanted to have a pre-bedtime Chinese New Year party, has been widely shared in China since Trump’s election win.
Some have interpreted Arabella’s command of the language as a hidden sign of her grandfather’s affinity with China. Four years ago, Ivanka told the South China Morning Post that her daughter was learning Mandarin and could name most of the zoo animals.