Meet The First Female U.N Ambassador: Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley
Image credits: New Yorker

Former South Carolina Governor, Nimrata Nikki Haley, served as the country’s 29th U.S. Ambassador from January 2017 to December 2018, to the United Nations making her the country’s first female U.N. ambassador. Keep reading to learn all about Nikki Haley.

Meet Nikki Haley

Haley was raised in Bamberg, South Carolina, and attended Clemson University, where she studied accounting for four years. Before joining the family company, she held positions as treasurer and president at the National Association for Women Business Owners. A three-term affiliate of the South Carolina House of Representatives, she was first elected in 2004 and represented the state well.

She was named governor of South Carolina in 2010 during her third term, and she was re-elected in 2014. In addition to becoming South Carolina’s first female governor, Haley was also the nation’s youngest and the state’s second governor of Indian ancestry (after fellow Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana). She was the first Indian-American woman in a presidential cabinet after serving as the state’s first Asian-American female governor.

From 2017 to 2018, Haley was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. In January 2017, she was sworn in after being confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 96–4. Her comments follow the 2017–2018 North Korea crisis in which the U.S. was prepared to employ military action in the event of additional North Korean missile launches. She stood up for Israel in the U.N. Security Council and spearheaded the charge to withdraw the United States from the Human Rights Council altogether. On December 31, 2018, she willingly resigned from her position.

Early Childhood

Haley was born as Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, to Indian Punjabi Sikh immigrants, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa. Her parents left Amritsar District in Punjab, India, for the United States. Her father was a teacher at the University of Delhi, her mother was an agricultural professor at Punjab Agricultural University in Punjab, and she has a law degree from Punjab Agricultural University.

In order for Haley’s father to attend the University of British Columbia on a full scholarship, her family relocated to Canada. Their family relocated to South Carolina in 1969, shortly after her father earned his Ph.D. from a historically black college.

A master’s degree in education was obtained by Raj Randhawa, her mother, who worked for seven years as a teacher in the public schools of Bamberg, Germany. She opened Exotica International, a well-known apparel store, in 1976. It was shut down that year.

Haley is the eldest of three children. It’s no surprise that her Canadian-born sister, Simran, went on to be an accomplished radio presenter and also graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology. While Mitti, her older brother, served in the United States Army Chemical Corps and is now retired, Charan, her younger brother, is a web designer.

When she was twelve years old, Haley started assisting her mother’s women’s clothes business, Exotica International, with accounting. She graduated from Orangeburg Preparatory Schools in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree.

Personal Life

Nikki Randhawa and Michael Haley tied the knot in Sikh and Methodist rituals in September 1996. Together, they have two children: Rena (born on June 8, 1998) and Nalin (born September 6, 2001).

In 1997, Haley made a personal decision to follow Christ. She and her husband are devoted members of the United Methodist Church and frequently attend services there. A couple of times a year, she’ll go to Sikh religious services in the local area. The Harmandir Sahib was a highlight of their trip to India in 2014 when she went along with her spouse. “I hope my parents do what is best for them,” Haley said in an interview with Christianity Today when asked whether she hopes they convert to Christianity.

Nikki Haley
Image credits: CNN

A part of the South Carolina Army National Guard, her spouse serves in the military. He was sent to Afghanistan for a year in January 2013, when she was governor.

Early Career

After graduating from Clemson University before joining the family apparel business as an accountant and CFO, Haley worked for the waste management and recycling firm FCR Corporation.

In 1996, she tied the knot with Michael Haley. Later on, she became involved in civic issues and started working for the city. She was elected to the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors in 1998. In 2003, she was elected to the Lexington Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In 2003, Haley was elected treasurer, and in 2004, she was elected president of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

For a local hospital, Haley hosted the Lexington Gala, which she also attended. Furthermore, she was active in the Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation and the West Metro Republican Women’s Association. As the South Carolina Chapter President of the National Association of Women Business Owners, she served as the campaign chair for the Friends of Scouting Leadership Division in 2006.

Political Career

South Carolina House of Representative

Haley was a candidate for the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2004 in Lexington County, District 87. In the Republican primary, she ran against longtime state representative Larry Koon. For many years, he was the state’s longest-serving lawmaker. She ran on a platform that included lowering property taxes and improving education. In the primary, she triggered a runoff since Koon received just 42% of the vote, falling short of a majority. She came in second place with 40% of the vote. In the second round, she prevailed 55–45 percent of the time.

In the general election, she had no challengers. Haley is the first Indian-American to occupy an office in South Carolina. She was uncontested for re-election to a second term in 2006. She secured a third term in office by beating Democratic challenger Edgar Gomez 83% to 17% in 2008.

Tenure

Haley was elected chair of the freshmen caucus in 2005 and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly. At the time, she was the first newcomer to the legislature to be appointed to a leadership position.

The Budgeting Process

Haley has said that one of her priorities will be to reduce expenses. While Mark Sanford was the governor of South Carolina, Haley voted upon a stated cigarette surtax despite complaints that the money from the tax would have been utilized for smoking prevention initiatives and cancer research linked to smoking. With her vote, a six-cent-per-dollar increase in sales taxes was enacted. The law exempted canned products, such as beans, from sales tax. Property taxes on “owner-occupied residential property” are likewise exempted under the same law, with the exception of any taxes payable on outstanding debt.

Legislative Pensions

According to Haley, lawmakers should not be allowed to receive retirement benefits from their legislative pensions while they are still in office. She thinks such pensions should be based on just the $10,400 legislative salary instead of the pay plus legislators’ $12,000 yearly spending allowance.

Immigration Policy

Since Haley’s parents were both immigrants, she feels strongly about enforcing the nation’s immigration rules. To ensure that businesses can verify that newly recruited workers are legal residents of the United States, she voted in support of legislation requiring all immigrants to carry proof of their legal status at all times. In June 2011, Haley enacted anti-illegal immigration legislation modeled after the state of Arizona.

The Justice Department of the United States has filed a lawsuit against the legislation, alleging that it violates the Supremacy Clause. Haley’s spokesperson, Rob Godfrey, said, “We wouldn’t have needed to deal with immigration reform at the state level if the federal government was doing its job. In the meanwhile, we’ll keep battling in South Carolina so that our laws are upheld.”

Stand of Pro-life

Haley identifies herself as pro-life and has backed measures to limit abortion. In 2016, she re-signed new state legislation that prohibits abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy. To paraphrase what she has said, “I’m not pro-life as the Republican Party understands me, I’m pro-life because all of us have had encounters of what it intends to have one of these beloved young ones in our lives.”

The inclusion of unborn child/fetus in the definition for civil suits amendment, the prohibition on termination of employment because of the abortion waiting period amendment, and the exemption of rape cases from the abortion waiting period amendment were all supported by Haley. The latter would have enabled certain instances of women not to have to wait the required 24 hours before obtaining an abortion.

Governor of South Carolina

2010 Gubernatorial Election

Haley declared her candidacy for South Carolina governor in the 2010 elections on May 14, 2009. Haley had agreed to run after being encouraged by Governor Mark Sanford and other Republicans in the state. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and current Republican presidential contender, supported her on November 11, 2009, as did South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford.

Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, the Republican Hindu Coalition’s founder in Chicago, is a longtime friend of Haley’s. “Her father Ajit Singh Randhawa contacted me in the summer of 2010 to assist his daughter’s candidacy for governor of South Carolina,” Kumar said in a 2016 interview. He quickly rose to the position of becoming her most generous contributor. Before former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s unexpected endorsement three weeks before the GOP primary vote, she was polling dead last.

A runoff election was conducted on June 22 after Haley won the Republican primary for governor on June 8 with 49 percent of the vote. In the runoff election, Haley came out on top easily.

Democrat Vincent Sheheen lost to Republican Haley on November 2, 2010, winning by a margin of 51 percent to 47 percent. Following Douglas Wilder of Virginia plus Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, she is the third non-white person to be elected as governor of a Southern state.

2014 Re-election

Haley declared her intention to run for re-election as governor on August 12, 2013. In the Republican primary, she was opposed by Tom Ervin. In the end, Ervin resigned and ran as an independent in the 2014 governor’s race.

As in 2010, Haley was opposed by Democrat Vincent Sheheen. Additionally, former Republican Tom Ervin ran as an Independent, former Libertarian Steve French, and former United Citizens Party candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves. On October 14, a public discussion took place in Charleston, South Carolina, involving French, Ervin, Haley, Reeves, and Sheheen. All five candidates were present for the second public debate, which took place on October 21 in Greenville, South Carolina. It took Ervin a week after the second debate to officially support Sheheen.

When Haley was re-elected on November 4, 2014, she won by a margin of 55.9 percent to 41.3%, more than doubling her 2010 victory against Sheheen.

Tenure

In January 2011, Haley became governor of South Carolina. Haley was embroiled in a power struggle in the General Assembly during her second term with many long-serving members. She supported strong senate finance chairman Hugh Leatherman’s main opponent in 2016. He declared Haley to be a “dead duck” after winning the Democratic primary. However, on January 24, 2017, Haley resigned from her post as governor, which was scheduled to expire on January 9, 2019, so she could serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

On January 12, 2016, Haley gave the official Republican rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

By the year 2016, Time magazine had recognized Haley as one of the world’s top 100 most influential individuals.

Lieutenant Governors

Under Haley’s leadership, four lieutenant governors were appointed. After Glenn F. McConnell stepped down as governor, Haley appointed Democrat Yancey McGill to replace him as lieutenant governor. Initially, Haley was opposed to having a Democrat serve as the governor’s deputy, but she and the Senate changed their minds.

Nomination by the Senate of the United States

Senator Jim DeMint announced his retirement from the Senate to become the president of the Heritage Foundation on December 17, 2012. On that day, Haley said she would nominate Tim Scott to succeed DeMint. Scott was elected as South Carolina’s first black senator after his appointment.

Reports in the media that Haley was considering Scott, Rep. Trey Gowdy, former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, with former First Lady of South Carolina Jenny Sanford as replacements for Senator Jim DeMint. Haley explained her decision to choose Scott this way: “Because I am a woman of color, it’s critical to me that Congressman Scott has earned this position. He has achieved this position as a consequence of his accomplishments.”

Fine by State Ethics Commission

For declining to reveal the addresses of eight contributors during her 2010 campaign for governor, Haley was fined $3,500 and issued a “public warning” by the State Ethics Commission in July 2013.

Parental Couple vs. Adopted Baby Girl

During the Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl incident, Haley ordered Dusten Brown’s extradition to South Carolina in August of that year.

The Flag Representing The Confederacy In The South

Ahead of the statehouse flag fly-in in June 2015, Haley endorsed it. In the instant result of the Charleston church butchering, Haley did not take a stance on removing the flag, stating, “I believe the state will start talking about it again, and we’ll see where it goes.” On June 22, Haley demanded that the Confederate flag be removed from the grounds of the statehouse.

LGBT Issues

The South Carolina State Senate proposed legislation in April 2016 that would push transgender people to use toilets depending on their gender at birth.

Nikki Haley
Image credits: The New York Times

United States Ambassador to the United Nations

Nomination and Confirmation

Following Donald Trump was chosen president in 2016, he announced his desire to choose Nikki Haley as his U.N. ambassador nominee on November 23, 2016. Haley reportedly turned down Trump’s offer to be secretary of state, which was widely publicized at the time. On January 20, President Trump nominated Nikki Haley to the United States Senate for the position of ambassador to the United Nations.

By a vote of 96–4 on January 24, 2017, Haley was approved by the Senate as the United States ambassador to the U.N. Sanders, Heinrich, Udall, and Coons were the only senators to vote against Haley’s nomination (D-Del.) Haley was the first Indian-American woman to serve in a cabinet-level post in the United States. Shortly afterward, she resigned as South Carolina governor, and Lt. Governor Henry McMaster ascended into the governorship of South Carolina.

Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Haley on January 25, 2017. She visited with United Nations secretary-general António Guterres on January 27, 2017, at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City. She took Samantha Power’s position as ambassador.

Tenure

On February 2, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the United Nations Security Council that sanctions imposed on Russia because of the Crimean crisis would remain in place until Moscow handed sovereignty of the area back to Ukraine. On June 4, Haley stated the United States will maintain “sanctions robust and severe when it comes to the problem in Ukraine.”

On March 15, 2017, Haley stated she would not support a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States should President Trump chose to implement one. Haley said that a Muslim ban would be “un-American” since she doesn’t think “we should ever exclude anybody based on their faith.”

On March 30, 2017, Haley said that the United States would no longer put its efforts on pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Compared to previous President Barack Obama’s early position on Bashar al-Assad, this was a significant change in policy.” A day after the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the U.N. Security Council that Russia, Assad, and Iran “had no interest in peace” and that assaults like this will continue if nothing was done to stop them. The next day, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against Syria’s Shayrat Air Base.

A draft declaration denouncing the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack was blocked in part by Russia on April 12, prompting Haley to chastise the country, stating, “We need Russian to stand with the civilized world against an Assad regime; that ruthlessly terrorizes its own people.”

Haley described the attack as a “very measured move” and warned that the United States was ready to “do more,” despite the fact that she hoped it wouldn’t be needed. “I can assure you thanks to the president’s efforts, we did not witness an event,” Haley said on June 28 before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, crediting President Trump’s warning to Syria for averting another chemical strike.

In her first session as U.N. Security Council president in April 2017, Haley accused Iran and Hezbollah of “conducting terrorist activities” in the Middle East for decades.

It’s possible, according to Haley, that the U.S. military might be deployed in reaction to additional North Korean missile testing or the use of nuclear weapons. Immediately after the North Korean missile launch on May 14, 2017, U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said that Kim Jong Un was “in a state of psychosis” due to the mounting pressure from Washington.

As of June 2, 2017, after the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution adding fifteen North Koreans and four entities linked to the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs to a sanctions blacklist, Haley stated that the council was “sending a clear message to North Korea today: Stop firing ballistic missiles or face the consequences.” The United States stated on July 5 that it would “put before the Security Council a resolution that increases the international reaction in a manner that is proportional to North Korea’s latest escalation” in response to its intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

The United Nations Security Council voted the following month unanimously to impose sanctions on North Korea, prohibiting the country from exporting anything worth more than $1 billion. According to Haley, the penalties are “the single biggest… ever imposed against the North Korean government.” she added.

She also spoke out against Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and the torture and death of homosexual men in a speech delivered in April of this year. She said that “We continue to be concerned by allegations of abduction, torture, and death of individuals in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation … this violation of human rights cannot be overlooked”.

In a May 2017 interview, Haley said that she favors relocating the Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, Haley accused the United Nations of “bullying Israel for a very long time” and promised to put an end to it. During the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel seized Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem and annexed it officially in 1980. Israel’s “undivided capital,” according to the Jerusalem Law, is the city of Jerusalem.

On July 17, 2017, when UNESCO decided to declare Palestinian territory and threatened world heritage sites in the Hebron Old City and the Cave of the Patriarchs, Haley referred to the decision as “tragic on many levels” in a statement.

By preventing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from monitoring Iranian compliance with the international nuclear deal, Haley said that “certain nations” (a reference to Russia, although she did not mention Russia by name) were protecting Iran. Haley said as much “Some nations seem to be making an effort to keep Iran out of further inspections. The Iran agreement is a hollow promise if there are no inspections.”

She said in September 2017 that allegations of crimes against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have her administration “very concerned.” Haley claimed that in September 2017. “Justifying the incarceration of the two Reuters reporters who reported on the ethnic cleansing,” Haley said in a letter to Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Relationship With Donald Trump

Nikki Haley
Image credits: Financial Times

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Haley endorsed and campaigned for Marco Rubio. Before Super Tuesday, she criticized Trump’s refusal to repudiate Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke by stating, “We saw and looked at real hatred in the eyes last year in Charleston… I will not stop until we battle a guy who decides not to denounce the KKK. This is not a component of our party. That’s not the kind of president we want to have.”

She went on to say, “That’s not the Republican Party, as we know it. That’s not who we are as a country, after all. When my parents arrived here, they came here because they knew there was love and acceptance in this nation”. Two weeks later, Rubio had withdrawn from the contest. When asked in October 2016 whether she planned to vote for Trump, she responded, “Of course.”. Haley also supported Trump stating, “…the greatest person based on the ideas, and dealing with things like Obamacare, still remains Donald Trump”. Haley warned that Trump’s comments might lead to a terrible catastrophe.

Since her departure in 2018, she has remained supportive of Trump and his administration, calling him a “friend.” She had said that she was “proud of the achievements of the Trump government” and “I’m not going to be apologetic for working with Trump.” After his election defeat against Joe Biden, she fiercely supported Trump fiercely, stating, “I understand the president. I think he really feels he was mistreated, and he is not making this stuff up.”

Although she referred to Trump’s behavior surrounding the 2021 assault of the U.S. Capitol as “not his best,” she was adamantly opposed to Trump’s second Impeachment, attacking Democrats and media on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. Also, on January 25, she said she wouldn’t vote for Impeachment and that she wouldn’t support “Impeachment is inevitable, yet they claim to be for unity. They beat him up before he came into office. They are hitting him up after he departs the office. At some period, give the person a break. I mean, move on”.

However, in an interview conducted on January 12, 2021, but published a month later, when Trump’s second impeachment trial was ongoing on accusations he had incited the January 2021 storming of the Capitol, Haley stated, “We need to admit he let us down. He walked down a road he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t allow it to ever happen again.” By 2021, Haley had reportedly made contact with Donald Trump and requested a meeting at Trump’s Palm Beach estate, according to Politico. Trump allegedly rejected the request.

When asked if Trump is a friend, she said that the word “friend” is “a loose one.” She hasn’t talked to Trump since January 6, 2021, according to reports. She has been critical of Trump’s involvement during the 2021 assault of the United States Capitol, stating that she was furious that Donald Trump took no action to defend Vice President Pence, stating, “When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement.”

Probability of Running for President or Vice President

2012 and 2016

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney considered her as a running partner in 2012 but ultimately dropped the idea. In April 2012, Haley stated that she would reject down any possible vice presidential proposal: “I’d state thank you, but no, I made a commitment to the people of this state. And I believe that promise matters. And it will remain in my possession.”

Haley was suggested in January 2016 as a possible contender for the vice presidency in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Economist characterized Haley as a politician with strong popularity ratings who has a mix of “fiscal fury and a knack for conciliation” and said as a female contender and ethnic minority; she would have appeal. On May 4, 2016, when Trump became the probable presidential candidate, Haley denied interest in the vice-presidential candidacy.

FAQs About Nikki Haley

What ethnicity is Nikki Haley?

Haley Randhawa was born at Bamberg County Hospital in Bamberg, South Carolina, to immigrant Indian Punjabi Sikh parents.

Who is Nikki Haley’s husband?

Nikki Randhawa married Michael Haley in September 1996, with both Sikh and Methodist rituals.

Where is Nikki Haley originally from?

Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, her parents, emigrated to the United States from Amritsar District, Punjab, India.

How old is Nalin Haley?

Nalin Haley, son of Nikki Haley was born in 2001 and is currently about 19 years old.

Did Nikki Haley attend law school?

Following her graduation from Clemson University, Haley worked for FCR Corporation, a waste management, and recycling firm, before entering her family’s clothing business as an accountant and chief financial officer.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed this comprehensive bio on Nikki Haley and were inspired by her hard work and determination to create a lucrative career in politics. To learn more about other notable personalities, keep reading Seema.