The world has spent weeks scrutinizing Donald Trump's cabinet and White House staff picks, but First Lady Melania Trump will have a staff of her own and former Vogue employee Stephanie Winston Wolkoff has officially signed on as the new FLOTUS' senior advisor, according to The Washington Post. (The New York Post called her Melania's chief strategist.)
Here's what you need to know about Winston Wolkoff.
Winston Wolkoff was raised in the Catskills by her mother, Barbara, and her biological father, photographer Barry Batinkoff. When Winston Wolkoff graduated from high school, her father broke the news of her parents' divorce and she reportedly lost touch with him soon after.
Her mother later remarried to Bruce Winston, the son of Harry Winston (yes, that Harry Winston). Bruce Winston legally adopted Stephanie and she took her new father's last name.
After the adoption, Winston Wolkoff rarely mentioned her biological father or Catskills upbringing, a choice that eventually led to some criticism.
Jay Lewin, the personal lawyer for Bruce's brother Ronald, told Page Six in 2010: "She's a Batinkoff—not a Winston. Stephanie is a Batinkoff of the successful Catskills chicken-farming family. She did not grow up on the Winston estate in Scarsdale."
Speaking to The New York Times, Winston Wolkoff said she hadn't intended to deceive people about her upbringing and that she doesn't describe Batinkoff as her father "because I've seen him twice in 20 years and because Bruce adopted me."
2. Her husband is real estate developer David Wolkoff.
The couple met in 1996 and married in 2000 and have three children: Zachary, Tyler, and Alexi. David Wolkoff has made headlines for tearing down a landmark of graffiti art in Queens called 5 Pointz and turning it into luxury apartments. The couple was also sued by their son's former tutor, who alleged that they stiffed her on a $33,000 bill, according to the New York Post.
David Wolkoff Winston Wolkoff and her husband were both in attendance for Trump's NYC victory party on election night.
3. She's a Loyola alum and got her start at Sotheby's.
Although Winston Wolkoff began her college education at Fordham University, at least partly to stay closer to her mother, she transferred to Loyola University in New Orleans after two years and graduated cum laude with a degree in communications in 1993.
Her first job after college was as a receptionist at Sotheby's Auction House in New York, which she says served as her first exposure to event planning. She later worked as an assistant to concert promoter Ron Delsener before beginning her career at Vogue.
4. She's close with Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.
Winston Wolkoff joined Vogue in 1996 as a public relations manager. She worked in event planning, eventually taking charge of the high-profile Met Gala, which she described as "an incredible experience."
"She's everything you want to hate in a girl," her friend, Kim Gardner, told The New York Times for a story on her 2000 wedding. "She's tall, she's accomplished, she's athletic, she's thin, she's in, she's hip, she works at Vogue. But she's a sweetheart. You can't hate her. You have to love her.'"
During her time at the fashion magazine, one of her biggest fans was Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, who reportedly dubbed her "General Winston."
"She's immaculate," Wintour told The New York Times. "She makes everyone else feel like a complete mess."
5. She was (very) briefly a stay-at-home mom.
Winston Wolkoff left Vogue in 2010 to spend more time with her family. She said she felt burned out after her years of work with the magazine. But her time out of the workplace was short-lived. Just a few months later, New York Fashion Week made the move from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center and Wintour helped Winston Wolkoff transition into a position as its fashion director.
6. She founded her own agency in 2012.
After two and a half years as the fashion director at Lincoln Center, Winston Wolkoff left to start her own agency, SWW Creative, which coordinates relationships between businesses and people in the fashion, beauty, and entertainment industries. Her clients included IMG Fashion Worldwide, Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
7. She's been close friends with Melania Trump for years.
Those who have followed Melania Trump's time in the public eye won't be particularly surprised by Winston Wolkoff's appointment. The event planner and First Lady have known each other for nearly 20 years.
In an interview with Dujour magazine, Winston Wolkoff sang Melania's praises, saying:
"Don't underestimate her just because she is quiet and reserved. There is virtue in the fact that she appears to be quiet and isn't on the front lines constantly saying, 'Hear me, see me.' But she's very confident in her viewpoint."
Melania even tweeted Winston Wolkoff some happy birthday love in 2013.
Happy Birthday Stephanie ❤! @SWWFashionJanuary 22, 2013
8. She helped plan the Trump inauguration.
Before her appointment to Melania Trump's staff, Winston Wolkoff was involved with the Trump administration in another capacity: as part of the team organizing the inauguration. She reportedly acted as an advisor to Tom Barrack, the head of Trump's inaugural committee.
9. She'll have real responsibilities working for the First Lady.
In her new role, Winston Wolkoff will play a pivotal role in shaping the First Lady's staff. She'll help interview candidates for important positions, including the First Lady's chief of staff, communications chief, and social secretary.
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Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
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