Kimberly Guilfoyle

Meet the New Vice Chairwoman of AMERICA FIRST

Kimberly Guilfoyle

By Chase Backer  |  Photos by Jill Lotenberg

 

 There’s a prescient passage in Kimberly Guilfoyle’s 2015 memoir: “Making the decision to end a relationship is never easy, regardless of whether you are the party initiating the split or the one just coming around to accepting it as reality. But you will know it when the time comes.”

In that part of Making the Case: How to Be Your Own Best Advocate, which offers advice to readers on how to achieve their personal goals at every stage of life, Guilfoyle is referring to the challenges that come with dating and marriage, and the decision to end a romantic relationship.

However, this sentiment could also apply to the relationships forged in the workplace and, more specifically, to Guilfoyle’s decision to move on from her high-profile gig at Fox News Channel last month.

As a co-host of the lively panel ensemble, The Five, the spunky lawyer-turned-media personality truly held court. She combined legal knowledge and a journalist’s way-with-words to dissect the news of the day with a degree of levity and wit often missing from other news programs.

In a tweet on July 24, Guilfoyle announced that she would be leaving Fox for a new adventure: “Today I have a bitter-sweet announcement. I’ve decided to leave Fox News Channel and dedicate myself full time to joining America First as Vice Chairwoman, campaigning across the country and firmly standing with President Trump. I will miss my Fox family. I thank Fox for the opportunities it has provided me. I thank all the talented producers, staff, and above all I thank the best fans out there.”

America First Action is the primary super PAC (political action committee) dedicated to electing federal candidates who support the agenda of the Trump-Pence administration. The PAC has an affiliated nonprofit, America First Policies, a grassroots advocacy group established to promote policies and legislation that will put Americans first. As Vice Chairwoman of America First, Guilfoyle is assisting the board and staff with fundraising, media appearances, and grassroots outreach.

In a field where lots of pro-Trump PACs have sprouted since the President’s election, America First Action has earned its place as the premier one, in large part because it has the blessing of the Trump family.

“Kimberly has been best-in-class at everything she’s done as a professional,” says Tommy Hicks Jr., chairman of the group’s board and a close friend of the Trumps. “She’s become one of the most recognizable personalities on television and has a unique ability to communicate the President’s MAGA agenda to any audience. She will be immensely valuable to our organization as we help the President advance his campaign promises, which have restored hope to tens of millions of American citizens.”

For Guilfoyle, whose career in law and journalism has exposed her to the very best and worst of humanity, the haves and have nots, tragedies and triumphs, and everything in between, becoming an ambassador for the “forgotten man and woman” isn’t much of a stretch for her.

“Kimberly may be best known for her intellect, tell-it-like-it-is persona, and striking beauty, but it’s also her humble roots and her genuine love of people that make her the perfect choice to be the face of the grassroots movement that will reelect Donald J. Trump in 2020,” says Donald Trump Jr., who also happens to be her new beau.

“Those of us who live our lives in the metropolitan enclaves of New York City or Washington, D.C., are too quick to forget that many Americans have limited resources to learn about critical policy debates in Washington, D.C., or to take action to advance those policies,” says Guilfoyle, who splits her time between those two cities. “America First is working tirelessly to bridge that gap. We believe all Americans deserve to be a part of the conversation, and to live in a country where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their own American dream. In other words, they deserve an advocate. And I want them to know they’ve got one—in me and in the entire America First team.”

Her new position gives her the freedom to travel the country at short notice on behalf of America First. She traveled most recently to Wheeling, West Virginia, the 22nd stop on a nationwide tour—“Tax Cuts to Put America First”—hosted by America First Policies to promote the ways the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is positively impacting Americans of all walks of life, in all parts of the country. The event was headlined by Vice President Mike Pence.

The new position also gives her more time to spend with Donald Trump Jr., who has already hit the campaign trail for congressional candidates who have proven themselves to be staunch supporters of the President’s agenda.

“Don Jr., as he is known to friends and family, has emerged as one of his father’s most astute and savvy spokesmen,” says Bill White, a friend and CEO of the New York-based Constellations Group. “And with Kimberly by his side, well, that’s a patriotic power couple unlike any other.”   

The couple first met 12 years ago at a party in New York City, but these days, the two prefer to spend their weekends fishing instead of hitting the social circuit. Her nickname for him is “Junior Mints.” Their friends affectionately call them “Donberly” and say their compatibility is off-the-charts—both are high-energy individuals who love to start new projects and take on new challenges.

Charlie Kirk, the founder of the youth organization Turning Point USA, knows both well. “Like Don Jr., Kimberly is a superstar talent who earns enthusiastic and unanimous support from our student leaders,” says Kirk. “We receive hundreds of requests for Kimberly to speak at our events weekly. She’s a tremendous asset to the President and the conservative movement. I have no doubt that young voters will rally to her message and her new, exciting role with America First.”

“Kimberly has never been afraid to try something new, which is why she has accomplished so much in her 49 years,” says childhood friend Shawn McSweeney.

Indeed, anyone who has taken even a cursory glance at Guilfoyle’s biography would think she has lived more than one life: Long before she was considered by the Trump administration for the role of White House Press Secretary, she was taking her home state of California by storm, even earning the nickname “The Hurricane.”

A successful assistant district attorney at the San Francisco and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Offices, she prosecuted domestic violence, child abuse, murder, and drug cases with gusto for nearly a decade.

In 2001, Guilfoyle successfully convicted the owner of two Presa Canario dogs for second-degree murder after the dogs mauled Diane Whipple, a 33-year-old lacrosse coach, to death in San Francisco. It was a horrific case that made headlines around the world and made Guilfoyle a household name. It also established precedent for what constitutes a “second-degree implied malice murder.”

Stephen Kay, Guilfoyle’s supervisor and mentor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office—and who is perhaps best known for prosecuting the convicted ex-Manson family members in the 1970s—remembers the dog mauling case (People v. Noel and Knoller) like it was yesterday. “She did such an amazing job during her direct examination of the coroner,” he says. Kay describes his protégé as exceptionally talented, hardworking, and a “natural” in the courtroom.

Another early colleague in the Los Angeles DA’s Office, Wendy Segall, who was recently elected as a judge to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, also sings Guilfoyle’s praises to this day: “Kimberly and I met in 1996 when we began working together, I as a deputy district attorney assigned to the Major Narcotics Division and the Stalking and Threat Assessment Team and she as an assistant DA. We quickly became friends and remain extremely close to this day. She was a rising star in the office and was assigned cases involving homicide, violent crime, domestic violence, and sexual assaults earlier than most young prosecutors. Kimberly always remained calm in and out of the courtroom. She won the majority of her cases because she was extremely thorough in her trial preparation and always outshined her opposition.”

In 2001, Guilfoyle married Gavin Newsom, then a San Francisco city supervisor. He was elected mayor in 2003, and Guilfoyle embraced her role as the First Lady of San Francisco. “One of my fondest memories from that exciting time in my life was hosting Prince Charles and Dutchess Camilla for one of their first official visits to the United States,” she says.

It was her bold cross-country move to New York City in 2004 after her divorce from Newsom that led to a brand-new career in television. As a TV host and legal analyst for Court TV, ABC News, and CNN, Guilfoyle covered some of the most famous court cases of our time (O.J. Simpson, JonBenét Ramsey, Natalee Holloway, and Michael Jackson, to name a few).

She is also the mother to a 11-year-old son, Ronan, whom she says is her greatest achievement. Ronan’s father is Guilfoyle’s second husband, Eric Villency, CEO of the Villency Design Group, a furniture and interior design company. The two divorced in 2009.

“My dad taught me to be fearless, to live life with no regrets, and to fully realize the importance of giving back when you have been blessed with so much,” says Guilfoyle.

“Kimberly is loyal, generous, and an amazing mom,” says a close friend, Susan Shin. “Ronan is so sweet-natured, and he really looks up to his mother and father. I knew Eric before I met Kimberly, and I’m so impressed by their great co-parenting relationship.”

Born in the San Francisco Mission District to an Irish father and Puerto Rican mother, Kimberly is a first-generation American who was an overachiever even as a kid. (Her story of landing her first summer job at a deli counter by impressing the owner with her knowledge of different kinds of salami and her fondness for honey baked ham and bacon is positively charming.)

She lost her mother, Mercedes, to a long and painful battle with leukemia when she was only 11 years old. Kimberly immediately took on the responsibilities of helping to raise her younger brother, Anthony, who was only 8 at the time; shopping and preparing meals; and keeping house. She credits her loving father, also named Anthony, with building her faith and resiliency during that extremely difficult time, and during each important moment of her life thereafter. He worked as a building contractor and for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company and was a pillar of the San Francisco community. He passed away in 2008.

“Our mother made the most of her time with me and Kimberly,” brother Anthony Guilfoyle says. “She filled our home with music, dance, crafts, wonderful meals, and the best birthday and holiday celebrations you could ever imagine.” Mercedes Guilfoyle taught students with special needs and would often take her daughter into the classroom to assist with lessons. She was also an avid volunteer, who—with daughter and son in tow—would help needy residents of the nearby Indian reservations.

The love of helping others that Guilfoyle’s mother instilled in her is reflected in Guilfoyle’s many awards, including “Outstanding Woman of the Year” from the City of San Francisco, “USO Entertainer of the Year,” the “Latino Star Award,” New York City’s “Special Civil Rights Award,” and the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s “Strength of Our Society Award” for her contributions to child advocacy.

Guilfoyle also serves on the board of the Esophageal Cancer Education Foundation; the Children’s Council of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the first child protective agency ever established; and KultureCity, a foundation founded by families who work for a better future for children with autism.

“My dad taught me to be fearless, to live life with no regrets, and to fully realize the importance of giving back when you have been blessed with so much,” says Guilfoyle.

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