Posted on December 19, 2017

Heritage Foundation Taps Kay Coles James to Be Next President

Nolan D. McCaskill and Eliana Johnson, Politico, December 14, 2017

The conservative Heritage Foundation announced Tuesday that board member Kay Coles James will serve as its sixth president starting next year.

Her goal, she said Tuesday, will be to expand the base of the conservative movement and “take it to places it may not have been before.”

James, who worked on President Donald Trump’s transition team, said she was drawn to the president’s promises to revitalize blighted inner cities and was initially interested in joining the administration.


James, who is African-American, served as director of the Office of Personnel Management under President George W. Bush and in Ronald Reagan’s Department of Health and Human Services. She also served as Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources and as a member of the state board of education.

The Heritage Foundation is the country’s largest conservative think tank and has played an integral role in policy formation during Republican administrations. James, however, said she will approach her job not as “some policy wonk,” but as a problem solver who is interested in how policy “can affect and empower people in their lives.”


“I’m honored that the board would ask me to lead this important work. What we believe, what we develop, what we fight for — these are the policies that help people,” James said. “I look forward to expanding the conservative movement in a positive, inclusive way as we build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.”


Trump delivered a keynote address at Heritage’s annual President’s Club Meeting in October, and the conservative think tank played a large role in creating the president’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.