Margaret Hoover has a last name with significant historical connotations—sometimes negative. Nonetheless, it is a last name she is unequivocally proud to share. Her paternal great- grandparents were Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover, the 31st President of the United States and First Lady. Margaret Hoover had her first taste of her great-grandfather’s commonly-held legacy when her 8th grade teacher pointed to Hoover as the architect of the “Great Depression.” Without revisiting the history of that period, Margaret Hoover proudly points to her great-grandfather’s humanitarian work in World Wars I and II, where he was instrumental in leading the efforts to help millions of refugees. She also points with pride to her great-grandmother’s involvement with the Girl Scouts: “My great-grandmother served twice as the president of the Girl Scouts and when she died in 1944, my great-grandfather planned her funeral at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York so that several of the front pews were available not for dignitaries but for Girl Scout members.”
While her family has shied away from speaking to the media, Margaret has become a part of it. She’s a cultural and political commentator on the Fox Network and has co-hosted ABC’s “The View.” She brands her political philosophy as part Barry Goldwater and part William F. Buckley with an emphasis on individual freedom, small government, and civil liberties. She points to Meg Whitman, eBay founder and likely 2010 California gubernatorial candidate as a great role model.
At 31, Hoover—much like Meghan McCain—resonates with younger audiences in her focus on “reforming the GOP.” She gives President Obama kudos for his communications skills and believes this is something all political candidates must possess if they are to succeed. As she says, “Voters need to understand what politicians are talking about. Without strong communication skills, candidates are doomed to lose.”
Culturally, Hoover has a love of all things Spanish: salsa dancing, Spanish pop music, language and literature. (She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. in Spanish literature and a minor in political science.) Last December, Margaret traveled to Puerto Rico for an unveiling of a statute of Herbert Hoover, who visited the island territory in 1931 and is the only sitting President to deliver an address to a joint session of the Puerto Rican house and senate. She proudly points to the fact that though much is being made of Sonia Sotomayor’s Latino heritage should she become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, it was arguably her great-grandfather who appointed the first Hispanic to the Supreme Court with his nomination of Benjamin Cardozo , a Sephardic Jew.
Hoover came to New York circuitously. She was born in Pittsburgh, raised in Colorado, and traveled the world extensively before settling in New York. She studied abroad in Bolivia and China and her first job after college was working for a law firm in Taiwan. This was followed by time in Washington where she worked for a Florida Congressman, with a heavily Hispanic constituency, followed by a stint in the White House Office of Inter-Governmental Affairs. In 2006, she moved to New York to work for Rudolph Giuliani’s PAC, “Solutions America,” and then worked on his Presidential exploratory effort before joining Fox. Since 2007, she has been a commentator on all things cultural on issues ranging from gay marriage (which she supports) to parental rights.
Aside from her media work, Hoover is currently in the beginning stages of a book on the Girl Scouts. Her great-grandmother’s involvement is a real impetus for the project. As she notes, “Every first lady since Edith Wilson has served as honorary chairwoman of the Girl Scouts and it was my great-grandmother who recruited Mrs. Wilson to the role.” Margaret Hoover expects Michelle Obama to proudly hold the title as well.
Aside from her professional commitments and projects, the biggest item on her agenda these days is planning her wedding in November to John Avlon, a former Giuliani speechwriter. The wedding will be held in California so that her 98-year-old grandmother (Herbert Hoover’s daughter-in-law) can attend.
She loves New York and the platform it provides for people of all persuasions to speak out on issues important to their lives: freedom, diversity, and good government. Hoover cherishes her legacy and is grateful for the foundation it’s given her.
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Eat: Momofuko Noodle Bar, 71 First Avenue
Favorite Place to Shop: Searle
Favorite New York Sight: The Statute of Liberty
Favorite New York Moment: Being Proposed to at the Statute of Liberty
What You Love About New York: The energy and dynamism of New York. Anything can happen here.
What You Hate About New York: Its cavernous feel with all the tall buildings. I sometimes miss the “big sky” of Colorado.