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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My latest piece for Refinery 29 takes on Donald Trump’s two very different speeches on opposite sides of the US – Mexico border and why they gave me “whiplash.” Read the piece  here: http://www.refinery29.com/2016/09/121984/trump-immigration-speeches-mexico-arizona-compared


Why Trump’s Speech On Immigration Gave Me Whiplash

Whiplash. It’s the only word that comes to mind when I think about how I felt watching the two competing — and starkly different — speeches Donald Trump delivered on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border yesterday.

Trump started Wednesday as one of the best days of his campaign. Talking heads on cable news, including myself, were praising his bold decision to accept Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s invitation to meet with him in Mexico.

Standing side by side with the Mexican president, Trump lookedpresidential. He was respectful in recognizing the positive contributions Mexican-Americans have made to the United States (something I appreciated as a daughter of a Mexican immigrant). He delivered thoughtful remarks laying out a new hemisphere-centric philosophy and promising to strengthen our bilateral relationship to confront common challenges. Like many, I felt Trump’s Mexico speech was a powerful way to crush questions on his temperament and reduce voter concerns.

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As the press conference concluded, Trump’s Mexican gamble seemed to be paying off: Voters like me started to feel optimistic and hopeful that this signaled a new direction on immigration that was fair and firm. His visit to Mexico was helping Trump finally move past last week’s difficulties when he vacillated on what he has made his signature issue. As his speech approached that evening, I thought he was going to give much-needed clarity on his positions on enforcement and how to deal with the 11 million people currently living illegally in the U.S. What to do with the undocumented population already here is an issue too many politicians have either failed to successfully address or avoided completely.

The first cracks in the wall (pun intended), however, appeared soon after both men left the podium. In a tweet, Peña Nieto said he made it clear to Trump that Mexico will never pay for his proposed wall. Trump has continued to insist that Mexico would pay 100%.

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As the sun set on Trumpland and the candidate took the stage in Arizona, it was like a dark cloud had rolled in on the once-hopeful day. In Phoenix, the same old Trump came out roaring with such vengeance, it was hard to tell if I was watching a live speech or a rerun from the primaries.

For the first time in my life, I’m an undecided voter. I shared some of my personal concerns about Trump and Clinton in a piece for Refinery29.


Via Refinery29:

Though Election Day is less than three months away, I still don’t know whom I will support for president. That wouldn’t be so surprising if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve spent most of my adult life working in Republican politics. I’ve helped direct millions of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to sway undecided voters while working for several GOP candidates, including for three Republican presidential campaigns. In 2012, I worked for the Republican National Committee (RNC). And that fall, I joined Mitt Romney’s presidential team.

But now, for the first time in my life, I am one of those undecided voters I once courted.

I’m a woman, a new mom, a wife, and a proud Hispanic American, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a Cuban political refugee. Above all, I am an American who believes in the importance of getting involved in our nation’s democracy. Yet, given that this election seems like a bad joke, I am not surprised by the growing apathy surrounding it.

The things that Donald Trump has said and done make me uneasy and physically uncomfortable. Trump’s reckless language about women, Hispanics, refugees, and immigrants, as well as his attacks on religion and his recurring assaults on fellow Republicans make me feel like he is taking my vote for granted.

There is no doubt this crazy political environment is impacting our children’s perceptions on what makes a person a leader. Time Magazine looks at how the 2016 election cycle is impacting kids’ expectations on leadership and how parents can counter what Time calls the  “Three Terrible Things the Election Is Teaching Your Child.”

Among the top three “terrible things” is lesson number 1) “I can say whatever I think without regard for anyone else.” Sadly, it seems that every time we turn on the news we see a candidate in midst of a tirade of personal attacks against their opponent. Weekly, at times daily, we are exposed to discussions on what many consider racist, bigoted, vulgar and sexist language, and left to explain what it means to our children.

The Time piece, authored by Michelle Kinder, executive director of Momentous Institute in Dallas, a program dedicated to developing social emotional health in children, provides parents with insight on how to teach good behavior:

“When children see adults out of control, they learn that self-control doesn’t matter. To counter this kind of modeling, social emotional health experts teach kids that there’s a difference between reacting and responding, and that they have the power to choose. Teaching kids the basic biology of their emotions gives them a greater sense of control over powerful feelings. Even very young children can understand that when they are overly emotional, their amygdala has taken charge and that they need to breathe and focus attention before responding. If only our presidential candidates would do the same.”

I asked friends for their thoughts on what good and bad lessons the current election cycle is teaching our children. Their resonsponses were not positive. 

The internet fell in love with this 8th grader, Jack Aiello, who brilliantly impersonate the presidential candidates during his graduation speech from Thomas Middle School in the Chicago area.

“Politics has been something he’s been interested in for several years,” explained the boy’s father, John to ABC News. “He’s always been good with impressions, so while watching along with his mom and I, he picked up phrases and mannerisms of the candidates.”

Aiello, who combined his love of politics and impressions to deliver one of the most memorable videos of this election, highlights the importance of talking to your kids about politics.

Like it or not, politics is everywhere. Either you talk to you kids about the candidates or someone else will, be it a teacher, fellow students, or the whip-lash causing commentary of television news.

We all know children are like a sponge, they absorb everything. Parents need to ensure children are learning the correct lessons from this presidential election. Ask them questions to help them think critically and learn different perspectives. You can make it as simple (What does the President do? Learn about electoral college) or as complicated (policy difference between the candidates) as you’d like. Here are some ideas, lesson plans and printables: hereherehere and here.

We applaud the Aiello family for talking to their son about politics and making it a family experience. We hope more families use this crazy election to talk about politics and government to their kids.

Introducing Santino Antonio Agen, weighing in at 10.6 pounds and stretching 22.5 inches. He was born today June 11 at 2:11pm. Nurses are stopping by our room just to see his enormous size! And Jarrod is already on the phone with Major League scouts. Thanks for all the prayers, thoughts, & well wishes. Love Bettina, Jarrod, and Little (big) Santino

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A few weeks ago I went to a “moms-to-be” party at a local Miami baby store called Tutti Bambini. Greeted with smiling faces, happy helpers and every baby product I didn’t know I needed, I joined in all the festivities with lots of other very pregnant soon to be mommies.

During the festivities I was lucky enough to win a mini-maternity shoot with the store’s photography studio – Tutti Bambini Photography. Thank you so much to Cristina and the entire team for making the experience so special.

Here are some photos from the shoot.
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