Washington Week

Friday Nights on PBS

Who is Nikki Haley?

In a move that surprised many, President-elect Donald Trump selected South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to serve as his Ambassador to the United Nations. With Senate approval, Haley will be the official representative of American interests at the UN’s Security Council. Here are 16 things to know about Nikki Haley:

1. In 2010, Haley was elected the first female and first minority governor of South Carolina.

2. At age 44, she is the youngest governor in the country.

3. She was born Nimrata Randhawa to Indian immigrants in Bamberg, South Carolina.

4. She is married to Michael Haley, a captain in the Army National Guard and a combat veteran who  has served in Afghanistan. The couple has two teenage children.

5. Haley was raised Sikh but was baptized into the Methodist Church after getting married.

6. Haley graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in accounting.

7. In 2004 she was first elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives and served three terms.

8. Haley is pro-life and has consistently voted for bills that restrict abortion and protect unborn fetuses

9. In her 2010 gubernatorial race, she was the Tea Party favorite and was endorsed by 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

10. Throughout Trump’s 2016 campaign, Haley was one of his most outspoken and frequent critics. A Marco Rubio supporter, she condemned Trump’s demeanor, even going as far to say that his hotheadedness could cause a “world war.” While she eventually said she would vote for Trump in October, she maintained she was “not a fan.” 

11. Haley found herself in the national spotlight last June after a self-proclaimed white supremacist killed nine people attending a Bible study at the historic black congregation in Charleston known as Mother Emanuel AME.

12. Days after the Charleston church shooting,  helped broker a compromise to permanently remove the controversial Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina State House grounds.

13. In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Haley said it was remarks made by Hillary Clinton at a leadership conference that convinced her to run for office.

14. She is the second Indian American governor in the United States, after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Jindal delivered the official Republican response to President Obama's 2009 State of the Union address.

15. This will be the third consecutive year that the GOP response to the State of the Union address will be presented by a woman.  Last year first-term Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, delivered the response and in 2014 it was Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., chairwoman of the House Republican conference.

16. Haley’s memoir, "Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story," was published in 2012.

See how Trump's administration is taking shape: 

Attorney General: Jeff Sessions
Chief strategist: Stephen Bannon
Chief of staff: Reince Priebus
National Security adviser: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
CIA director: Mike Pompeo
Education secretary: Betsy DeVos
UN ambassador: Nikki Haley
Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao
Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross
Defense secretary: Gen. James Mattis(link is external)
Energy secretary:
Homeland Security secretary:
Housing and Urban Development secretary: Ben Carson
Secretary of state:
Interior secretary:
Treasury secretary: Steven Mnuchin
Veteran Affairs secretary:
EPA administrator: Scott Pruitt

Photo: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at a 2013 bill signing. [flickr / Nikki Haley]