South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could become the next ambassador to the United Nations after President-elect Donald J. Trump named her as his choice for the post on Wednesday.
Haley, the daughter of immigrants from India, is serving her second term as Republican governor of South Carolina, where she rose to national prominence after calling for the removal of the Confederate flag following the church shooting in Charleston in 2015.
The first female governor and first minority governor in her state’s history, Haley built her political career on a background in business — not foreign policy, according to CNN. She served in the South Carolina statehouse for three terms before winning the governorship, according to NBC.
The job of ambassador to the UN is to represent US interests on the Security Council and in the General Assembly. Haley, if confirmed, will wield major power at the UN, including in discussions about the ongoing war in Syria, the refugee crisis, and humanitarian assistance.
"She's a smart woman," Congressman Sean Duffy told CNN following the news of Trump’s choice. "I don't think you need this great history of diplomatic experience to go in the UN and be successful."
Haley has accepted the position, according to NPR.
"When the President believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation's standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed," she said in a statement.
Haley sparred publicly with Trump earlier this year. In January, Haley gave the official Republican response to the State of the Union address, saying it would benefit the nation to “turn down the volume” and then criticized his failure to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, according to the New York Times.
“Mr. Trump has definitely contributed to what I think is just irresponsible talk,” she told NBC at the time.
And Trump in turn called her “weak” on immigration.
Still, Haley represents Trump’s first female pick to his cabinet, as well as the first minority to be chosen as part of his administration.
If Haley is formally nominated and confirmed she will succeed current U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Obama’s representative to the UN who has been an advocate for accepting refugees and has tangled with Russia over its involvement in Syria and Ukraine.
Power’s foreign policy experience included working at the Harvard Kennedy School on human rights policy and global leadership, and then working at the U.S. State Department and on the National Security Council.
Trump continues to roll out appointments to his cabinet this week, which still has an opening for the chief foreign policy job, U.S. Secretary of State, that he is expected to fill soon.
Trump has so far named Reince Priebus as chief of staff, Stephen K. Bannon as chief strategist and senior counselor, Michael Flynn as national security adviser, Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general and Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA director.