The President-elect has chosen former critic Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to the UN. Haley, who has little foreign policy experience, was the first woman to be tapped for a top-level post in Trump's administration.
Trump nominated Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the US ambassador to the United Nations, his transition team announced on Wednesday.
"Governor 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," Trump said in a statement.
"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," Trump remarked.
Haley is the daughter of two Indian immigrants and became South Carolina's first female and first minority governor in 2011. She was the first woman, and is the first person of color, to be nominated to a top Cabinet position in Trump's administration.
She accepted the nomination on Wednesday, but said she would remain in her current post until the Cabinet position was approved by the Senate. In a statement, Haley said she was moved to accept the post due to a "sense of duty."
Last year, Haley signed a bill to remove the Confederate flag from state capitol grounds. The flag is an emblem of the American South and is associated with slavery.
The South Carolina governor would be the third consecutive female US ambassador to the UN after Susan Rice and Samantha Power, who currently holds the post. Haley differs from her predecessors in that she lacks prior foreign policy experience.
According to the Post and Courier of Charleston, Haley's international experience involves negotiating development deals with international companies who wanted to work in her state. She has also led seven overseas trade missions as governor, the paper reported.
Jaime Harrison, the chairman of South Carolina's Democratic Party, congratulated his state's governor, but voiced concerns over Haley's lack of experience.
"I hope the Governor is a quick student because as one of the nation's top diplomats, she will have the critical task of dealing in real time with virtually every international crisis that arises," Harrison said in the statement.
Haley was fiercely critical of Trump's divisive election campaign in which he called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, threatened to ban Muslim immigration, and faced accusations of sexual harassment and assault from multiple women.
She previously urged voters to "reject the siren call of the angriest voices" and criticized Trump for not speaking out more decisively against white supremacists.
Trump also criticized Haley on Twitter, writing in March that "the people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!"
Haley, however, ended up voting for Trump in the election and met with him at Trump Tower following his electoral win.
The UN ambassador position is the second-highest-profile diplomatic position after Secretary of State - a job that Trump has yet to fill. As part of the Cabinet, Haley would have more of an opportunity to shape US policies, rather than just defend Trump's positions in the UN.
The US is one of five permanent nations holding veto powers on the 15-member Security Council and is also the largest funder of the 193-member UN. Washington pays over a quarter of the $8 billion (7.59 billion euro) peacekeeping budget and 22 percent of the regular budget.
The Trump administration also picked its second female appointee on Wednesday, naming Betsy DeVos - an advocate for the privatization of education - as education secretary.
The 58-year-old billionaire Republican donor, a former chair of the Michigan Republican Party, has campaigned at the state level for vouchers that families can use to send their children to private schools.
rs/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)