The Heritage Foundation—the country’s largest conservative Washington, D.C.-based think tank—will be led by a Black woman. Kay Coles James was appointed to take over the helm of the 44-year-old research and educational institution, the foundation reported.
Prior to being named the president of The Heritage Foundation, James served as a Virginia health secretary and federal personnel director, the foundation writes. She has worked under former presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush in the past and served as President Donald Trump’s former senior advisor. Throughout her public policy career, the Hampton University alumna has been very involved in the Heritage Foundation’s initiatives and has been on their Board of Trustees for 12 years. Her appointment makes her the sixth person in the institution’s history to become president and the first African American woman to do so.
The announcement came after her predecessor former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint caused friction within the foundation and was removed by the board, the New York Times reported. Board members of the Heritage Foundation believed that under DeMint’s leadership, the institution was veering away from its core values and losing its influence amongst conservatives in Washington. The foundation’s founder, Edwin J. Feulner, believes that James will play an integral role in getting the organization back on track. “I am confident that under her leadership Heritage will remain committed to conservative principles and to expanding the conservative movement in a positive, inclusive way,” he told the news outlet.
James is humbled by her appointment and says she hopes to make the conservative party more inclusive. “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. 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,” she said in a statement, according to the foundation. She’s slated to begin her new role on January 1.
James isn’t the only African American who is trying to change the face of a White male-dominated conservative movement. According to Fox News Insider, 20-year-olds Ed Ford Jr. and Tyrell Brown recently became the youngest Black Republicans to ever be elected in Connecticut. James’ appointment following the disorder within the Heritage Foundation is just another example of how Black women are being relied upon when there is chaos in the realm of politics. Earlier this month we watched Doug Jones win the Alabama Senate race because Black women overwhelmingly showed support for him at the polls.