Kellyanne Conway was named Donald Trump's campaign manager Aug. 17, 2016, making her the first woman to ever run a Republican presidential campaign. She traveled with Trump throughout his campaign in its last months and advised him, as well as appeared frequently on TV to speak on his behalf.
Conway, 49, is a veteran political operative, who's spent the last three decades advising Republicans on how to appeal to female voters. In fact, she was already doing this for the Trump campaign before he tapped her to be his campaign manager. On Dec. 22, 2016, Conway was named counselor to the president.
"Kellyanne Conway has been a trusted advisor and strategist who played a crucial role in my victory. She is a tireless and tenacious advocate of my agenda and has amazing insights on how to effectively communicate our message. I am pleased that she will be part of my senior team in the West Wing," Trump said in a statement.
Here are 12 things to know about Conway:
1. She is very well-educated.
Conway graduated magna cum laude from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., earning a degree in political science, according to CNBC. She then studied at Oxford University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious honors society, and later earned a law degree with honors from George Washington University Law Center. (She now describes herself as a "fully recovered" attorney.)
2. She's also a former pageant winner.
Conway grew up in Atco, New Jersey, a town in the southern part of the state, not far from Atlantic City. In 1982, she won the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant, according to the conservative news site Newsmax. But, as Conway told Newsmax in 2008, she was not only a pageant winner but also named the World Champion Blueberry Packer, because she spent eight summers packing blueberries on a farm. She was known as the fastest packer.
3. She's married with four children.
Conway married George T. Conway III, a New York lawyer, in 2001. The couple has four children, according to CNN, including twins. Prior to marrying Conway, she was romantically linked to the late Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, according to New York magazine, a Republican lawmaker and actor who starred in Law & Order as well as numerous movies.
4. She's worked extensively with Republican lawmakers.
Conway is president and CEO of the Polling Company, which she founded in 1995. Her company often works with Republican candidates to appeal to female voters and the client list, according to CNN, reads like a who's who of conservative politicians and organizations: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich's former presidential campaign, Reps. Steve King and Michele Bachmann, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, National Rifle Association, and Family Research Council.
One of her clients, Todd Akin, a Republican representative from Missouri, drew sharp criticism during his failed U.S. Senate run in 2012 when he referred to "legitimate rape," saying in a TV interview, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Earlier in her career, Kellyanne Fitzpatrick (her maiden name) appeared on TV frequently to attack the Clintons. (Since the '90s, she's provided commentary on more than 1,200 TV shows.)
5. She was raised by women.
Conway's parent divorced when she was 3 years old, according to Newsmax. "I grew up in a house with my mom and her mom, and two of my mother's unmarried sisters," she explained. "So four Italian Catholic women raised me."
6. She's known Trump for a decade, and is now described as "the Trump whisperer."
Conway met Trump in 2006, when she was living in one of his buildings, according to the Washington Post. She even served on the condo board of the Trump World Tower in Manhattan. Trump, she told the Post, was surprisingly hands on, even showing up to meetings to hear residents' concerns. Over the years, the Post continued, Trump would call her to say he'd seen her on TV and ask her opinion on a topic.
The pair met again in March 2015 to discuss his presidential bid. She said Trump offered her a job on his campaign, but she declined over fears of how the public would view the partnership. "Like, 'What are you doing there?'" she said. "Riding on a plane? Whispering in his ear about what he should say to women?"
7. She worked on behalf of Ted Cruz before joining Trump's campaign.
After rebuffing Trump, Conway went to work running a Ted Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise 1, which sought to raise money in support of the candidate, according to CNN. The super PAC was later rebranded in June to Defeat Crooked Hillary, Rolling Stone said. Conway also made the maximum personal donation allowed to Cruz last fall: $5,400, CNN reported.
8. She wrote a book titled What Women Really Want.
In 2005, Conway co-authored the book What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live along with Democratic strategist Celinda Lake. "By delving beneath the radioactive, hot-button issues," the book's Amazon description reads, "Lake and Conway discovered common causes with which women are inventing a new age of opportunity—doing it their way and, in the process, improving life for all Americans."
9. But knows the pollster business is "male-dominated."
"I've been in a very male-dominated business for decades," she told the New Yorker in a fascinating profile. "I found, particularly early on, that there's plenty of room for passion, but there's very little room for emotion...I tell people all the time, 'Don't be fooled, because I am a man by day.'"
10. She's pro-immigration reform (or at least was).
Although Trump's campaign has been decidedly anti-immigrant—build a wall, shut down Muslim immigration—Conway has a rather enlightened view on this matter. In 2014, she tried to convince Republicans to embrace comprehensive immigration reform and legal status for undocumented workers, according to CNN. She also co-authored a memo for the pro-immigration group FWD.us that delved into the benefits of creating a pathway to citizenship for nearly 11 million undocumented workers. She was among 16 Republican pollsters to sign the memo.
11. She was extremely critical of Mitt Romney.
While Romney had been critical of Trump throughout the campaign, the two met Nov. 19 at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, and since then, there's been talk that Romney could be appointed as the next secretary of state.
But on Thanksgiving, Conway tweeted that she was receiving a "deluge of social media & private" communications warning against the possible appointment.
She appeared on CNN on Sunday, where she talked about "the number of people who feel betrayed to think that Gov. Romney would get the most prominent Cabinet post after he went so far out of his way to hurt Donald Trump."
She added that she'll fully support whomever President-elect Trump chooses for his Cabinet, but she had concerns about Romney.
"I'm all for party unity, but I'm not sure that we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position," Conway said.
MSNBC and CNBC reported that Trump was "furious" at Conway's comments and that some of Trump's aides were "baffled" and concerned that her comments only served to push "her own agenda." She and Trump both disputed that report. "Kellyanne came to me and asked whether or not she could go public with her thoughts on the matter," Trump said in a statement. "I encouraged her to do so. Most importantly she fully acknowledged there is only one person that makes the decision. She has always been a tremendous asset and that will continue."
There were other top contenders for the position of secretary of state, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to CBS, but Trump ultimately appointed Rex Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, as his secretary of state, which will require approval from the Senate.
12. She will be the highest-ranking woman in the White House.
In an interview with Fox News on Dec. 20, Conway said she was moving her family to Washington, D.C., where she might take a job in the Trump White House. A few days later, Trump announced that he would appoint her counselor to the president . She will be the highest-ranking woman in the White House, according to the New York Times.
This article was originally published after Conway was named Trump's campaign manager and has been updated.
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