What a difference a year makes! In 2017, Hoda Kotb became a first-time mom when she adopted newborn daughter Haley Joy Kotb — and became the heir apparent to Matt Lauer as the co-anchor of the Today show's first two hours after he was fired for sexual misconduct. It's quite a balancing act. "She's just a marvel how she pulls it all off and keeps her stamina," an insider recently told Closer Weekly.
Hoda, 53, probably wouldn't have chosen to increase her workload so dramatically, given the demands of caring for an infant. "She made this very big, emotional commitment to adopt this baby girl and shepherd her through life," the insider continued. But she also won't likely take herself out of the running for a job she's so clearly earned in her nearly 20 years with NBC News. "There's no one on the Today team more respected than Hoda," a source said. "She's as comfortable interviewing a world leader as a fashion designer." Added the insider, "Her whole career has been building toward this moment. It would certainly be the pinnacle of her career, and Hoda knows it."
Savannah Guthrie, Matt, and Hoda on Today. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Luckily, she has help with Haley Joy at home thanks to her live-in boyfriend, financier Joel Schiffman, 59. "Hoda says she honestly couldn't do this without Joel," said the insider. "Having someone to come home to is everything in the world to her." At work, Hoda has been a rock for her colleagues as they deal with the fallout from the sex scandal. "She has always been great at forging esprit de corps," the source said. "I don't know what they would be doing in this time of crisis without Hoda around to pull everyone together."
Even more impressively, she's risen to the top of her profession without stepping on anyone along the way. "When I first came to NBC, I thought it was going to be swimming with the sharks, all men for themselves," she's said. "I have to tell you, I learned that you can be kind and a hard worker and move up. You don't have to play dirty."
This is the kind of time-tested wisdom Hoda hopes to teach Haley Joy as they celebrate their first holiday season together. "She laughs and says, of course, Haley isn't going to remember it, but she and Joel will certainly remember that first Christmas as a family," said the source. "And they are going to take enough pictures to fill a photo album." In typically selfless style, Hoda is focusing on others — especially Kathie Lee Gifford, 64, her close pal and co-host of Today's fourth hour. "With [her husband, Frank Gifford] gone and the kids grown up and doing their own thing, this is a hard time of year for Kathie Lee," said the source, noting the duo will spend time together at Kathie Lee's Connecticut home over the holidays. "It's a great friendship."
And a great example. As Hoda says, "Sometimes you have to take the focus off you and put it on someone else — it's funny what you can accomplish and how much strength you really have."
For more on Hoda, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and sign up for our newsletter!