A Kentuckian was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday to serve as the nation’s ambassador to the United Nations.
Kelly Knight Craft has been serving as Ambassador to Canada since 2017, becoming the first woman to serve in that post. In her new role, she will serve as the country’s chief representative at the U.N. General Assembly, as well as on the Security Council.
She is no stranger to the U.N. having been appointed in 2007 by then-President George W. Bush to serve as a U.S. delegate to the United Nations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted her service to Canada and prior U.N. work in a speech on the Senate floor prior to the vote.
“In each of those cases this impressive nominee earned an unopposed confirmation,” said the Louisville Republican. “In each case, she repaid the Senate’s confidence by skillfully and effectively advocating for the interests of the United States on the international stage. During her tenure as Ambassador to Canada, America’s relationship with our northern neighbor was tested. A number of challenging policy hurdles threatened to trip up progress on several important issues including trade negotiations. But by all accounts, Ambassador Craft’s involvement led to greater cooperation.”
After the vote, McConnell posted on Twitter: “The Senate just confirmed @POTUS's impressive nominee for the critical role of @USUN Ambassador: Kelly Knight Craft of #Kentucky. I’m confident our entire nation will be proud of the fine service she will render as our Ambassador to the United Nations.”
Craft, a Barren County native, heads Kelly G. Knight, LLC, a Lexington-based business advisory firm. She has also been on the Salvation Army board of directors and on the board of the Center for Rural Development, a nonprofit dedicated to economic progress in rural Kentucky. She is a co-founder of the Craft Academy for Science and Mathematics at Morehead State University and is a former member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees, her alma mater.
Craft’s husband, Joe Craft, is the chief executive of Alliance Resource Partners, a large Kentucky coal producer.
She replaces former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who left the U.N. post at the end of 2018.
A report issued by the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, just before the vote called Craft "inexperienced," ''unknowledgeable" and "outmatched." The report said Craft's "lack of diplomatic or substantive policy experience" could threaten her ability to forcefully represent and defend U.S. national interests against other powerful nations.
"Never in our nation's history have we nominated such an underqualified person to this critical post," said Menendez in an Associated Press report.
In her confirmation hearing, Craft vowed to continue the efforts of Haley, to push for reform at the world body and to fight against anti-Israel resolutions and actions by the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. During Haley's tenure, the administration withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. educational and scientific agency for adopting positions it deemed to be hostile to Israel.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.