Guest column: Nikki Haley represents S.C. women well

Mar 25, 2018
By Congressman Joe Wilson

March is Women’s History Month. South Carolina has a proud tradition of strong women who have been trailblazers in public service from Lt. Gov. Nancy Stevenson, who was the first woman in our state’s history to be elected to statewide office, to former Superintendent of Education Barbara Nielsen and now Molly Spearman. But this month, I’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate my constituent and President Donald Trump’s Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki R. Haley. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Ambassador Haley represented Lexington County in the State House before becoming the first woman to be elected governor in the 340 years of South Carolina history.

Her mother, Raj, ran a clothing store named Exotica International for decades in Lexington. Her father Ajit got his doctorate degree in British Columbia and became a professor at Voorhees College in Denmark. I have always been very proud of their family’s contribution to the Midlands, and how they persevered and achieved their goals. Her family set a great example of how hard work and persistence can lead to the American Dream. With her husband Michael, they have successfully raised Rena and Nalin.

After graduating from Clemson University with a degree in accounting, Nikki put her degree to work by becoming the CFO of her family’s small business. Due to her business acumen, she was named to the board of directors of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce and became treasurer of the National Association of Women Business Owners. One year later, Haley became president of that association.

In 2005, Nikki Haley became the first Indian-American to hold office in South Carolina by winning a seat in the State House, representing my home county of Lexington. I am grateful to have been a longtime supporter of hers, as well as a friend.

Due to her incredible work ethic, Nikki Haley became chair of the freshman caucus during her first term, and earned a spot on the whip team – the only freshman member at that time.

In 2009, she began running for governor of South Carolina and in 2010, after a hard fought campaign, Nikki Haley became the first female governor of South Carolina, the first woman to win either party’s nomination for governor in the state and the first Indian-American woman to be elected governor in America.

The people of South Carolina recognized that she was a hard-worker and courageous leader, and Nikki Haley handily won re-election in 2014.

In the beginning of 2017, talk turned to Gov. Haley being nominated for U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Shortly thereafter, she was nominated and approved by the Senate 96-4, earning another historic milestone as the first Indian-American to hold a cabinet-level position.


Nikki Haley is doing a remarkable job as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She is a fierce advocate for American values and our allies across the world, and has brought fresh leadership to the United Nations. She has proven that she can represent America on the world stage effectively and has stood up for Israel, even if that meant standing alone. She has been a brave, thoughtful, intelligent and effective leader.

In the past year, Haley succeeded in winning unanimous Security Council approval for economic sanctions on North Korea in response to its continuing nuclear belligerence and she loudly slammed Russia’s continuing aggression in Ukraine, vowing that sanctions would never be lifted until Crimea is restored to Ukrainian control.

In every aspect of her incredible life and career, she has remained steadfast in the face of adversity. She does not compromise her values – she stands up for what is right and remains humble despite accomplishing extraordinary achievements. I am grateful for the opportunity to be her friend, and I know that she has earned her rightful place in the history books.