Children often inherit the same color of eyes or the same mannerisms as their parents. But Plano resident Hoda Soliman bequeathed something infinitely more important to her three daughters – an example of deep resilience even in difficult circumstances.
Born to a Coptic Christian family in Egypt, Hoda was always part of a religious minority in a predominately Muslim country But that fact never interfered with developing friendships with those around her. Even today, she counts among her friends many of the Muslim faith. As a child, she loved to draw, and she might have pursued that career had her father not insisted that she attend the American University in Cairo where she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Marriage followed her graduation, and the first two of her daughters, Dina and Dalia, were born in Egypt. By that time, her parents had immigrated to the United States, and a family visit turned into a student visa for the young mother. Although caring for two children under the age of four, Hoda worked full-time as a director of a daycare facility and pursued her graduate degree in developmental psychology at night at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). By the time she had completed her Master’s degree, her third daughter, Denise, had turned two years old.
Sadly, her marriage crumbled over the next few years, but Hoda was determined to set a strong example of independence for her girls. She returned to school to secure licenses as a social worker, chemical dependency counselor, and professional counselor. She then used those valuable skills to build her career and bless the lives of others. From 1986 to 2001, Hoda worked for medical facilities like Methodist and Presbyterian Hospitals in Dallas and with agencies like the Family Place for abused women and children and the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. In each environment, Hoda used her empathetic heart to minister to those suffering from addiction, violence, and mental health issues. Her native Arabic proved to be a valuable asset in communicating with immigrants from the Middle East. She remains to this day an active licensed counselor.
A change in careers occurred in 2001 when Hoda accepted a contract position with the Department of Justice, a position she would hold for the next 15 years. Fiercely patriotic, she proudly worked for the country she had adopted through citizenship.
But of all the accomplishments in her life, Hoda takes the most pride in her three daughters and of their notable careers. Her oldest daughter, Dina, left Texas after graduating from UT Austin for an internship with then-Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. Her innate executive abilities quickly caught the attention of politicians, and Dina Powell subsequently served in several high-ranking positions within the George W. Bush administration while raising her own two daughters. More recently, she occupied the office of Deputy National Security Advisor in the Trump administration. After serving in that post for one year, Dina returned to financial giant Goldman Sachs in New York City. During her previous tenure with that company, one of her most important duties was directing the Goldman Sachs philanthropic programs of 10,000 Women and 10,000 Small Businesses. Both provide capital, expertise, and mentorship to entrepreneurs around the world. Hoda has herself been contacted by one grateful jewelry maker in Egypt whose life was changed by the program.
Her second daughter, Dalia, followed her mother’s interest in art, earning a Bachelor’s degree in English and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D. in Art History at Boston University. Her resume lists positions such as Development Associate at the Walker Art Center and Senior Lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received the John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014. In 2018 she accepted the position as Head of Academic Engagement at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Significantly, she has accomplished all of this while mothering two young children.
Hoda’s youngest daughter, Denise McPeters, is a top-notch realtor in the Dallas area. Following her graduation from UTD, she spent several years working in the exciting world of interior space planning and custom design. In 2012, she joined the real estate giant Keller Williams where she earned the Rookie of the Year award and the Five Star Professional Rising Star award. She consistently ranks in the top 20% of her market center, serving buyers, sellers, and investors throughout the metropolitan area. Like her sisters, she has managed to balance a demanding career with the stress of motherhood. Fortunately, Denise had the advantage of having her Mom close by. Shortly after Hoda retired in 2017, she became the caregiver for her youngest grandson for the first 18 months of his life.
Having now relinquished the care of her grandson to pre-school, Hoda looks forward to the next phase of her life. With her knowledge and experience in counseling, she could volunteer in any number of service organizations. As a cancer survivor, she is already involved in the Cancer Support Community at Presbyterian Hospital in Plano, where she has met many survivors and received support through her own recovery.
Because her life has not always been easy, Hoda can easily empathize with those whose lives have been marred by tragedy. But her battles have only served to increase her faith that God provides in exact measure what she needs at precisely the right time.
“There is always a way to turn something negative into good,” Hoda says. “And that allows me to forgive others, focus on the future, and have joy in my life.”