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GEI Luncheon in honor of Amb. Jim Nicholson

Jim Nicholson serves as Ambassador to the Holy See.

Mr. Nicholson was born during the Great Depression in 1938, the third child of seven, and raised on a tenant farm in Struble, Iowa. 

Like most poor American families, the Nicholsons knew that a good education would create opportunity and Jim Nicholson worked hard to earn an appointment to the U. S. Military Academy. 

He notes his Army service as the defining experience in his life, imbuing him with a sense of duty, honor, and country.

After graduation from West Point, Mr. Nicholson served 8 years as an Army Ranger and paratrooper, then 22 years in the Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of full colonel. As a Ranger in Vietnam, he earned the Bronze Star Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Vietnamese Cross for Gallantry and two Air Medals.

Mr. Nicholson  holds a master’s degree in public policy from Columbia University and a law degree from the University of Denver. He practiced law with a major Denver law firm and after two years of practice, became a partner, specializing in real estate, municipal finance, and zoning law.

In 1978, he founded Nicholson Enterprises, Inc., a developer of master planned residential communities. In 1987, he bought Renaissance Homes, which has become a nationally know, award-winning builder of high quality custom homes. 

Mr. Nicholson’s success in business was matched by his contributions to his community by serving in many non-profit endeavors. 

He served three years as Chairman of the Volunteers of America in Colorado, which is the largest faith-based social service agency in the Rocky Mountain States. He chaired the Community Concerns Committee of the Denver Bar Association; he provided leadership to the Listen Foundation; and his service to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission and many other non-profit endeavors have earned him the stature of one of Colorado’s outstanding leaders.

In January 1986, Mr. Nicholson was elected Committeeman from Colorado for the Republican National Committee (RNC). In 1993 he was elected Vice-Chairman (of the RNC,) and in January 1997, (he was elected) Chairman (of the RNC). His tenure as Chairman included the 1997 elections and culminated in the 2000 elections.

Following the 1997 elections, Mr. Nicholson convened a summit of the nation’s Republican governors and Congressional leadership on the topic of improving America’s schools. 

He emerged with a mandate to chair an unprecedented, party-wide task force on improving basic education in America. 

The resulting plan, launched in September 1998, was called “Children First: The Republican Agenda for America’s Students.”

In 1999, Mr. Nicholson was honored by induction as a Knight in the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, one of the highest honors awarded to a Roman Catholic. In 2000,

Mr. Nicholson received also the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, recognizing his climb from humble beginnings to a position of great  success,  which has enabled him to serve others in America now less fortunate.Nicholson was also awarded  and a Doctorate of Public Service, Honoris Causa, by Regis University in Denver in May of 2001.

On August 10, 2001 Mr. Nicholson was sworn in as Ambassador to the Holy See.