South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking at the Republican Governors...

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking at the Republican Governors Association annual conference in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for United Nations ambassador, Trump confirmed in a statement. Credit: AP / John Raoux

President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador, and Betsy DeVos, a proponent of charter schools and school voucher programs, as education secretary.

The selections brought gender diversity to a roster of cabinet nominees that has drawn criticism for being stacked with all white men.

Trump first unveiled Haley’s appointment, calling the two-term governor, “one of the most universally respected governors in the country.”

Trump said Haley “has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country. She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

Haley, a frequent critic of Trump throughout the presidential campaign, accepted Trump’s job offer, saying she was “honored” to be considered.

“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” she said in a statement.

In January, Haley, 44, the daughter of Indian immigrants, took aim at Trump when delivering the Republican Party’s response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. She urged Americans to “resist” the “siren call of the angriest voices.”

Several United Nations diplomats praised Haley’s selection.

France’s ambassador to the UN, Francois Dellatre, said he met Haley when he was ambassador to the United States, from 2011 to 2014, and called her “a highly regarded, very respected politician and professional.”

Britain’s UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, said Haley “will bring to the UN a strong record of achievement from South Carolina. I know the U.S.-U.K. relationship will continue to go from strength to strength.”

Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, called Haley “a long-standing and true friend of Israel.”

DeVos, the nominee for education secretary, is a billionaire activist from Michigan. She serves as chairwoman of the American Federation for Children, which advocates for the expansion of charter schools and taxpayer funded voucher programs that allow public school students in underperforming schools to attend private schools.

Trump said DeVos “will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families.”

In a statement, DeVos said, the “status quo in education is not acceptable. Together, we can work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.”

Suffolk County School Superintendents Association president Charles Russo said DeVos’ support for charter schools and vouchers may raise concerns among school district officials. He said the concern may be particularly acute in larger metropolitan areas, where district officials have long complained they are losing vital public funding to privately run charter schools.

However, Russo said he does not foresee much of an impact on Long Island public school districts.

“With regards to putting forward a charter school agenda, for the great majority of school districts on Long Island, our communities are satisfied with the product they are receiving, and I wouldn’t expect much change,” Russo said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Trump rival in the GOP primaries and a strong backer of charter schools, praised DeVos’ nomination. Her “allegiance is to families, particularly those struggling at the bottom of the economic ladder, not to an outdated public education model that has failed them from one generation to the next,” Bush said.

A day after Trump tweeted that he was considering Dr. Ben Carson for secretary of housing and urban development, Carson took to social media Wednesday to hint at a “forthcoming” announcement. Carson is a retired neurosurgeon who also sought the GOP presidential nomination.

“After serious discussions with the Trump transition team, I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly to making our inner cities great for everyone,” Carson wrote on Facebook at 8:36 a.m.

On Wednesday afternoon, his spokesman Armstrong Williams denied reports that Carson had accepted the HUD post. “Dr. Carson is prayerfully & seriously considering,” Williams wrote on Twitter.

Late in the day, Trump posted a Thanksgiving address on social media.

Trump said the nation had just finished a “long and bruising” campaign and that “tensions don’t just heal overnight.” He said he was praying that on Thanksgiving the country will “begin to heal our divisions and move forward strengthened by shared purpose.”

He said that with the political campaign over, it was time for a “great national campaign to rebuild our country.”

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reported that Trump was expected to offer the position of secretary of commerce to Wilbur Ross. Ross, who heads a private-equity firm, hosted a campaign fundraiser for Trump at his Southampton estate this summer.

With Zachary R. Dowdy

Latest videos

Newsday LogoYour Island. Your Community. Your News.Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months