President-elect Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will appoint Nikki Haley, “a great leader” to be the United States ambassador to the United Nations, a cabinet-rank position, marking a historic breakthrough for Indian Americans in politics. Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, Haley was elected as the first woman and minority governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife.Haley, who was raised as a Sikh and later converted to Christianity is married to Michael, a Captain in the Army National Guard and combat veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, have two children, Rena, 18, and Nalin, 15.
She is the first Indian-American woman Governor and the second Indian-American governor of any State. Prior to becoming governor, she represented Lexington County in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.A true fiscal conservative and savvy businesswoman, Haley’s leadership drove down South Carolina’s unemployment to a 15 year low by adding more than 82,000 jobs in each of South Carolina’s 46 counties. While Haley does not have direct foreign policy experience, she has travelled to India and Europe for developing businesses in her state. As governor, she has led seven overseas trade missions and successfully attracted jobs and investment through negotiations with foreign companies. She also has well-honed diplomatic skills having manoeuvered her way through the politics of South Carolina, a conservative state, where she was opposed by a section of her own party.
Prior to dedicating her life to public service, Haley worked at her family business. Haley is a proud graduate of Clemson University where she earned a degree in accounting.As the Permanent Representative to the UN, Haley will be the first woman and non-white appointed to a high-level post in Trump’s incoming administration. Her appointment caps a year of political achievements for Indian Americans. Indian Americans made significant political headway this year in the US. For the first time an Indian American, Kamala Harris, was elected to the Senate, and the House of Representatives now has four from the community with the election of Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna, who will join the re-elected Ami Bera.