African American woman takes over think tank
The largest conservative think tank in the country has a new president and she is a black woman by the name of Kay Cole James. The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, DC think tank that was founded in 1973 to “formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense”
Several Republican presidents have relied on the Heritage Foundation not only for conservative ideas, but also for personnel. It is widely known that when a Republican president enters the White House, many Heritage staffers often move into important policy positions to assist the new Administration. Ronald Reagan once said that the Heritage Foundation played a “vital force” in the successes during his presidency.
With more than 500,000 members worldwide and with a global reach that makes republicans in Washington take notice when Heritage speaks, there is no doubt that Heritage is a policy powerhouse, so it’s only fitting that a powerhouse leads a powerhouse.
Kay Cole James is a legend not only in Republican circles, but in Black circles as well. Having known Kay for almost 20 years, she is a compassionate, nurturing, smart women who is dedicated to the advancement of African Americans having started her own Black think tank nearly a decade ago.
James started her public career working for the National Commission on Children under the Reagan Administration. She then moved on to become an associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush. In 2001, James returned to the federal government to serve as President George W. Bush’s director of the Office of Personnel Management.
The list goes on. James went on to serve as secretary of health and human resources and as a member of the state board of education under republican Gov. George Allen of Virginia. As secretary, she led the welfare reform project statewide and also served on the local school board in Fairfax, Virginia. Needless to say, James has always led by example and I have no doubt that she will continue to do so. She has already stated that she wants the Heritage Foundation to go places “where it’s never been before”, meaning to urban and rural areas and other places that would never have dreamed of a conservative think tank on those areas.
James is also in tune with her blackness. On a recent interview she stated, “As African Americans, we were survivors.” A nod to the struggle that many African Americans faced when she grew up. She went on to say,
“I have never had a victim mentality, either as an African American or as a woman.”
James went on to describe her vision for the think tank. ” I am fond of saying that Heritage is a masterpiece and a work in progress all at the same time,” she continued. “It can’t get any better than what we are ... But what I think we can do better is to take that data, take that research, take that information and take it to demographics where it’s never been before.
“I want to make sure that the good news that we have gets into minority communities, gets into the youth culture in our country. My goal is to help a Bernie Sanders voter understand why conservative policy works best for people.”