In his capacity as chief speechwriter to Secretary Betsy DeVos, Nicholas crafts the case for choice in education. Soon after he assumed his role in the Department, the media began to take notice of Secretary DeVos’s conservative message. “Her rhetoric was more fiery than it’s been since she assumed her post, as she talked about a ‘fight,’ a ‘struggle,’ and being on the ‘front lines.’ She invoked Margaret Thatcher’s famous line that ‘there is no such thing’ as ‘society.’”
Nicholas penned Secretary DeVos’s most consequential and controversial speech to date on campus sexual misconduct. Even editorial boards that are normally reliable opponents of everything that comes out of the Trump administration seemed to be persuaded. The Washington Post editorialized that the “remarks on campus sex assault were right on target.” Later, the Post reported on the Secretary’s speech welcoming America’s students back to their classrooms: “it was hardly a typical back-to-school speech. DeVos called school a ‘mundane malaise’ for too many kids and said that it must be reinvented so that the country can get out of ‘the mess we’re in.’” National Review writers called her address to Harvard’s Kennedy school as “probably her best speech to date. … DeVos spoke thoughtfully—at times, even eloquently—about how school choice empowers families…” Still, DeVos remained combative in Cambridge, calling enemies of parents and students “sycophant[s] of the system.”
Nicholas was recently the Chief Opinion Editor of The Hill and before that, the Assistant Editorial Page Editor of The Detroit News. Prior to joining the editorial board of The Detroit News, Nicholas was editor of RealClearReligion.org, and served in Donald Rumsfeld’s Washington, D.C. office. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune.
He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Catholic Studies from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. While at DePaul, Nicholas was a Phillips Foundation Ronald Reagan College Leaders Scholar and was named among the 2006-2007 Top Ten Campus Conservative Activists by Young America’s Foundation.
Nicholas’s years at the largest Catholic university in the country were “unexpectedly formative.” A fourth-generation student at DePaul, Nicholas thought he had it all figured out: He was going to orient his undergraduate studies and extracurricular activities toward law school. But that was before he arrived on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus in Chicago. Almost immediately, Nicholas encountered the Left in the classroom, on the quad, and in the chapel. He found a few like-minded friends, but they had little resources—and waning confidence—to promote conservative ideas on campus.
That was until Nicholas met Young America’s Foundation. “YAF changed my life. I was preparing to enroll in a so-called ‘conservative college’ or pack up and head home. But through the Foundation’s conferences and encouragement from the fine folks in Reston, I was convinced to stay on my campus, fight, and win.” Nicholas went on to host several sold-out events on his campus including conservative lectures from the late Ultimate Warrior, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Paul Kengor, the late Michael Novak, George Weigel, and Natan Sharansky. His event on immigration sparked a city-wide discussion on immigration and a nation-wide debate over free speech. The latter landed him in local and national media, including Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor.”
“I would not be writing speeches for a conservative cabinet secretary had it not been for Young America’s Foundation—at its conferences and retreats, as a summer intern, in the relationships developed, and now as a speaker and mentor. YAF made me a better student and a better person.”