Featured in Refinery29’s – “8 Inspiring Human Beings On How To Make the Next 4 Years Matter.”

Don’t Forget, Ivanka Is One Of Us, Too

Our nation is holding its collective breath as we enter Inauguration Day. Those who voted for Donald J. Trump are holding their breath with eager anticipation, built up over years of waiting for a total outsider who is willing and able to totally disrupt the Washington, D.C. system. Non-Trump voters are holding their breath for essentially the same reason: We are stepping into the unknown. There is no political blueprint for what comes next. But as I watch President-elect Trump officially become our next President, I’m optimistic. Why? One reason: his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

As someone who has worked in politics my entire adult life, I understand the unique and powerful opportunities available in the White House. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that provides unparalleled prospects to address some of the nation’s — and the world’s — greatest challenges. It would be a missed opportunity for Ivanka, even as an unofficial member of her father’s administration, to pass up such a game-changing opportunity for involvement.

And while I know people are divided about the role Ivanka Trump will play these next four years, instead of focusing energy on what she will or won’t, should or should not be doing with this time, consider asking yourself and the women around you: How will we spend our time to make the United States a better country under the incoming administration?

Ivanka is taking responsibility for the role that she’ll play — we should all take a line out of that book and put our actions to work for our values in real life. She is poised to become a powerful leader in our nation’s capital — and that is a very positive thing. Having a woman like her — an accomplished millennial, a successful businesswoman, and a young mom — as a voice in the White House is a major plus, for this or any presidential administration.

A common theme throughout this past election (and sadly for generations) is that women, particularly young women, have been underrepresented in government at virtually all levels. We need to encourage more people like Ivanka — new faces — who can offer different perspectives to serve our nation. I have followed her “Women Who Work” efforts for some time, and she is passionate about many of the same issues I am passionate about — including femaleempowerment, paid family leave, female entrepreneurship, equal pay, and helping working moms.

But a person — a woman — could spend a lifetime writing blog posts and speaking at conferences, and still not have the impact on women empowerment issues that a few years at the White House could provide. Many people spend their entire lives trying to enact change. Now Ivanka will have the power to be that change. Her priorities can already be felt at the White House and on Capitol Hill: Donald Trump has begun talking to legislators about family leave and child care proposals — issues that would not likely have been high on the list if Ivanka were not advising the president-elect; issues that for far too long have not received attention from our nation’s leaders.

Ivanka’s influence is also helping shape the people advising the White House: Dina Powell, a well-respected leader in women’s empowerment in the workplace, will serve as assistant to the president and senior counselor for economic initiatives. Dubbed “Ivanka’s woman in the White House,” Powell — an Egyptian-born, Dallas-raised, Arabic speaker — has received bipartisan praise for her work thus far and is set to be a powerful figure in the new administration.

During the election I had my own concerns about Trump’s candidacy, and wrote about them from my perspective as a Republican strategist, a Latina, and a mom. But one thing I made clear is that whoever won the election, we must accept the results and the electoral process. Trump won by the same rules applied to every presidential election in America’s history.

I worked for the presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and Governor Mitt Romney against Barack Obama, but goodness knows that when President Obama won, I prayed for his success. When I disagreed with him, I made it known. But he was my president.

As of January 20, Donald Trump is the president leading all of us. Now, my only concern is how I can support my country and its new leader. Personally, I am hopeful his daughter’s presence will help bring some of the issues that often get swept aside into the light. If Ivanka Trump can do some good in Washington for women everywhere, then we should be championing her presence there, while also working to do the same in our own communities. Women of America — if not us, then who? And if not now, then when?

Bettina Inclán is a political strategist and writer who specializes in women’s issues and outreach.
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