Jim Nicholson (Secretary of Veterans Affairs)
Robert James Nicholson (born February 4, 1938) is an attorney, real estate developer, and a former Republican Party chairman. He was the United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs from January 26, 2005, until October 1, 2007.
Nicholson was born on a farm near Struble, Iowa. Nicholson has characterized his childhood as “growing up dirt poor in a tenant house without plumbing and sometimes without food”. He is the brother of retired Army General John W. Nicholson.
He is a 1961 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and served eight years in active duty. He was a paratrooper and Ranger-qualified Army officer. He fought in the Vietnam War, where he earned the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and two Air Medals. After thirty years of military service he retired in 1991 with the rank of colonel.
In 2005, he was awarded the Distinguished Graduate Award by the USMA.
Legal and business career
Nicholson practiced law in Denver, Colorado, specializing in real estate, municipal finance and zoning law. In 1978 he founded Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a developer of planned residential communities, and in 1987 he bought Renaissance Homes, a custom-home builder. Nicholson is senior counsel with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP. His practice includes public policy, health care, state and federal regulatory law, international relations, real estate, oil and gas, and alternative energy.
Nicholson is the chairman of Daniels Fund, a private foundation valued at $1.5B. He was chairman of the Federal Interagency Council on Homelessness, chairman of the Board of Open World Foundation, chairman of Volunteers of America of Colorado, and co-chairman of the Advisory Board of the Catholic Leadership Institute. He served as a director of New Day USA Residential Mortgage, LLC; Federated Mutual Funds; the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans; St. Mary Land and Exploration Company; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Colorado; Community Corrections Corporation; ITN Energy Systems, Inc.; and Lerch, Bates and Associates, Inc. He was a fellow of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Nicholson has been honored with Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Regis University; the University of Dallas, TX; John Cabot University, Rome; Ave Maria School of Law, Ann Arbor, MI; King’s College, Wilkes Barre, PA; University of Denver College of Law; and the University of Rome, Italy. He gave the Commencement Address for the universities listed above, as well as the US Merchant Marine Academy. Additionally, he was recognized for by the Volunteers of America Ballington and Maude Booth Award for Public Service; President’s Medal for Public Service, Georgetown University; Builder Hall of Fame by the National Association of Homebuilders; the Beckett Fund “Canterbury Medal”; Annual “Top Irish American Award” by Irish American Magazine; and Military Chaplains Association 2007 Citizenship Award.
Nicholson has never held elected office, but has long been active in the Republican Party. In January 1986, he was elected committeeman from Colorado for the Republican National Committee (RNC). In 1993, he was elected Vice-Chairman of the RNC, and was the “surprise pick” for GOP national chairman in January 1997. He served in that role through the 2000 presidential election.
Between 2001 and 2005, Nicholson served as United States Ambassador to the Holy See (the Vatican). In 2003, Pope John Paul II knighted him with the Grand Cross for his leadership on human rights issues and standing for religious freedom. Order of Pius IX.
In 2016, according to a Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Short Form Registration Statement  dated October 21, 2016, Nicholson began working as “Senior Counsel” for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Working with other foreign agents hired by the lobbying firm of Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, & Schreck, Nicholson’s primary duties include facilitating & attending meetings with U.S. federal government officials on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- U.S. Envoy Thanks Pope for Prayers and Closeness Archived October 14, 2004, at the Wayback Machine, a post-9/11 press release from the Zenit News Agency
- Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. “Nicholson to Leave VA and Return to the Private Sector — Public and Intergovernmental Affairs”. .va.gov. Archived from the original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- Official transcript of Nicholson’s nomination, whitehouse.gov; Accessed March 13, 2007.
- College of Law History Alumni Image Collection from the University of Denver
- “Jim Nicholson, Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs”. Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
- Coloradan Nicholson to lead Veterans Affairs Archived May 14, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, a December 2004 Denver Post article
- Foreign Agents Registration Act Short Form Registration Statement
- Official biography from the Department of Veterans Affairs website
-  VIP Speakers Bureau, Jim Nicholson
- Appearances on C-SPAN
-  Former Vatican Ambassador Nicholson sees wisdom of Holy Spirit in election of Pope Francis
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the Republican National Committee
| United States Ambassador to the Holy See
| United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs