Nikki Haley has served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for the last two years
For the second consecutive year a woman is being honored as the American of the Year. The winner of the honors this time around is the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
In 2018, Haley concluded a nearly two-year stint in this important diplomatic post, with today actually serving as her final official day on the job.
Haley, whose birth name is actually Nimrata Randhawa, is the daughter of immigrants. Her father was a professor and her mother a lawyer when they moved first to Canada from Punjab, India and then later in 1969 down to South Carolina.
The girl who would always be known in the family as “Nikki” was born in 1972 and is one of four siblings. She would be raised there in South Carolina, where she attended the exclusive Orangeburg Prep School and Clemson University.
She began working for the family clothing business, Exotica International, eventually becoming their controller and CFO. In 1996 she married Michael Haley, and over the next couple of years began to involve herself in civic affairs, serving in a number of board positions.
Then in 2004, Nikki Haley first tossed her hat into the political ring. She chose to challenge a longtime Republican incumbent in the South Carolina House of Representatives, Larry Koon, in a primary. Forcing a runoff, she ultimately defeated state rep, then won the general election, thus becoming South Carolina’s first-ever Indian-American to hold public office.
In 2005, she was elected chair of the freshman caucus. Haley would then win re-election to the South Carolina state house in each of the next two elections.
It was in May of 2009 that Haley made the decision to step up and run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the 2010 South Carolina elections. After again forcing a runoff which she would win handily, Haley defeated her Democratic opponent by 51-47 to become the Governor of South Carolina.
After a successful first term, Haley then stormed to an even bigger margin of victory and was re-elected to the Governor job in 2014. Seen as a rising star in the party, Haley was given the honor of delivering the Republican Party response to President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address.
Haley was never considered a big fan of Donald Trump, who would win the U.S. Presidential election in November 2016. She first supported Marco Rubio during the GOP primaries, and after he resigned she threw her support to Ted Cruz.
After winning election, Trump announced his intent to nominate her for the U.N. ambassador position. On his first day in office, Trump sent the appointment on to the U.S. Senate for approval where she was confirmed in a 96-4 vote. She resigned the governorship to accept the U.N. post, and thus became the first Indian-American to hold a presidential cabinet-level position.
During her two years as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Haley proved to be a strong advocate for American interests around the world, standing up to nations like Russia, Iran, and North Korea. She was a vocal supporter of President Trump’s moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
As one last hurrah before leaving her post, Haley stood up to China in October 2018 in regards to their re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority population in far northwest China with Turkish roots.
For her unwavering strength in standing up for America’s fundamental principles among the world’s diplomatic leadership, and for her independence of thought and expression on a wide range of both national and international issues during a polarizing geo-political era, Nikki Haley is named as the 13th American of the Year.
PREVIOUS AMERICANS OF THE YEAR
2004 – Pat Tillman
2005 – Bill O’Reilly
2006 – Billy Graham
2007 – Chuck Cassidy
2008 – George W. Bush
2009 – Glenn Beck
2010 – Ron Paul
2011 – Seal Team 6
2012 – Michael Phelps
2013 – Ted Cruz
2014 – (none named)
2015 – (none named)
2016 – Donald Trump
2017 – Kellyanne Conway