On Tuesday, The Heritage Foundation introduced that its subsequent president can be Kay Coles James, who beforehand served on President Donald Trump’s transition crew and who was director of the Office of Personnel Management within the George W. Bush administration. Genevieve Wood interviewed James Tuesday about her background, why she cares about coverage, and what she intends to do as president of The Heritage Foundation. Below is a lightly-edited model of their dialog.
Genevieve Wood: We have had an thrilling morning right here at The Heritage Foundation as a result of we simply introduced who’s going to be the following president of The Heritage Foundation starting Jan. 1, and we wish you to satisfy her proper now. Ladies and gents, that is Kay Coles James. Kay, thanks and congratulations.
Kay Coles James: Thank you, pricey pal.
Wood: This is superior. To say that this was an enthusiastic reception this morning can be promoting it brief. You received quite a lot of standing ovations. The emails are all coming in—
James: I have to confess that I didn’t need my first impression to the workers to be standing there with tears operating down my face, however the reception was so heat and so overwhelming that I feel a dose of actual emotion was in all probability acceptable.
Wood: I feel it was, too. So you might be beginning Jan. 1?
James: Jan. 1.
Wood: You’re not new to Heritage. You’ve been on our board since 2005. … You’re not new to politics and public coverage. You’ve labored native degree, state degree, federal degree.
James: My time with Heritage truly goes again greater than 25 years, serving on the board, in fact, however I’ve had the chance to talk at President’s Clubs and Resource Banks and to be concerned as a fellow right here at The Heritage Foundation once I did the Citizenship Project a number of years in the past. My love and affinity for this group runs deep and it runs lengthy.
Wood: I need folks on the market who don’t know you, and I do know a lot of you do, however what they could not find out about your background is you labored for Gov. George Allen in Virginia, [as] assistant secretary of Health and Human Resources—
James: Let’s begin firstly. I feel what folks have to find out about me is that I got here from a welfare mother. I got here from a damaged residence, a dad who was absent. And the explanation that’s essential is as a result of once I started to speak about welfare reform I needed to develop out of failing colleges and be taught.
So for me, coverage isn’t simply concerning the white papers that we produce, but it surely’s what’s behind these papers. The lives of individuals that may be modified with the wonderful coverage that we produce right here. And in no small measure, I actually really feel like all the pieces in my life has been gearing up for this second.
Yes, I did have the chance to work on welfare reform with Gov. Allen in Virginia and we’re going to be tackling that nationally very quickly. I’ve the privilege to serve on a state Board of Education so I’ve been diving deep into schooling coverage.
Yes, I used to be the secretary of Health in Virginia and I perceive fully what must occur to repair our failing well being care system in our nation right now. The coverage facet runs deep, however I need folks to know that the fervour, the fervour for altering peoples’ lives, runs deep as properly.
Wood: You have had this storied profession. You labored for Ronald Reagan. You labored for President George W. Bush. I imply, you go on and on with the checklist right here. You had been at Regent University, dean there. After such a profession, why now Heritage?
James: Because it’s so fascinating. You could know that for some time I truly headed the search committee [for a new president of The Heritage Foundation]. Somebody stated, “Oh, so you probably did a full Dick Cheney.”
So I used to be serving to to develop the profile of what the following president of Heritage wanted to be and to do and dealing with the search committee on these points. And it was so fascinating that one in all our board members at one level stated, “What about Kay?” And as quickly as I grew to become a severe candidate, I stepped down from the search committee and [former Attorney General and Heritage Foundation Ronald Reagan fellow emeritus] Ed Meese took it over.
The actuality is that once I look again over my life, all the pieces has been preparation for this. Our donors and our members and the people who we serve understand how essential this group is and it isn’t simply essential for the conservative motion, it’s essential for this nation. We’re at a important place in our nation proper now and I feel that, to borrow a phrase from one in all my favourite Bible verses, I really feel like my life has been main as much as this for such a time as this.
Wood: This morning you shared a very private story with our crew right here. I do know our viewers would love to listen to about once you actually realized you had been a fighter as a result of Kay, you’re the primary girl president of Heritage, however [not only of Heritage but] of many a conservative or a assume tank interval throughout the board. You’re additionally a black girl.
James: You know what I’m so enthusiastic about? The proven fact that I’m a girl and African-American? I don’t assume anyone on the board cared. It is completely not of their DNA and I feel we did it the proper means. I feel that they had been in search of the perfect and essentially the most certified individual and you realize, it’s prefer it was an afterthought. Oh my gosh—
Wood: On the flip facet.
James: Yeah, so isn’t that one thing.
Wood: It is, but it surely’s a part of who you might be. And it’s a part of your story that you just instructed us this morning—
James: Well, you realize, I shared this morning that at 12 years previous once I was integrating the faculties within the south in Richmond, Virginia, it was a really tough time for individuals who went by that interval in our nation’s historical past. It was a daunting time. Far greater than something I’ve seen right now with a few of the people who complain about the place our nation is right now.
And I’m glad I had that have. The expertise of being kicked once I walked down the corridor. The expertise of being referred to as names. The expertise of being caught with pins, and that’s how they used to attempt to scare us. You by no means knew the place it was going to come back from once you had been strolling down the corridor, but it surely turned me right into a fighter. I used to be decided to remain. I used to be resolved.
I feel God used that in shaping me in who I’m right now. I don’t thoughts combating for the issues that I imagine in. I imagine on this nice nation. I imagine in The Heritage Foundation. I imagine in our mission, imaginative and prescient, and values, and I’m able to combat for it.
Wood: When did you resolve “I’m a conservative”?
James: I didn’t truly know I used to be a conservative till a reporter instructed me. Years in the past, and that is completely true, I used to be being interviewed and he stated one thing like, “So, how is it being a black conservative?” And I went, “I’m a conservative?”
I knew what I believed, and by the way my definition of a black conservative, truly I imagine it’s a definition for any good conservative, is somebody that has the audacity to imagine what their grandmother taught them.
There’s nothing bizarre, deep, or difficult about it. The values that we have now are good, strong, conventional, American values. That’s who we’re at our core. And someday I spotted that by some means that group of values that had been mine to the core had a label, and that label was conservative. And I stated, “By golly, I’m a conservative.”
Wood: Let me ask you, you talked additionally about simply reaching everyone with this message—as a result of conservatism is nice for everyone.
James: Oh, completely.
Wood: The values that we combat for.
James: The values that we have now and that we combat for. Some of the perfect analysis knowledge and evaluation emanates out of this constructing that builds the case for, and makes the argument for, the insurance policies that we imagine in. I need to be sure that that message, that it goes to each nook of this nation.
I need Bernie Sanders voters to know why we are literally extra compassionate, why we even have actual options that can have an effect on poverty and finish failure factories—that we by some means name colleges—that don’t educate. I actually need them to know … Let’s simply go for what’s true, and proper and optimistic and let’s have a look at what the info and the analysis says.
Are we daring sufficient to try this? Because if we’re, we’ll discover frequent floor and we will change this nation for the higher.
Wood: You have any explicit objectives coming in? I imply, I do know you stated, “Look, we’re not going to vary who Heritage is.” But what are your private management objectives or simply hope for the group and for America?
James: Oh, you realize I’m right here, not only for the group, however for this nation as a result of I imagine that Heritage is the premiere group that’s charting the course for this nation. To have the chance to try this is overwhelming. But my aim initially is to pay attention. In this constructing are a few of the most superior people on the planet who know the insurance policies, who’re the students, and I need to pay attention.
Beyond listening, I need to be sure that what we all know and what we be taught can explode out of this constructing and go all throughout America. We know that we have now as our main constituency the policymakers right here on Capitol Hill and we need to change their minds.
The folks within the administration, we need to present them good knowledge and analysis evaluation. But I need folks even outdoors of America … Do you perceive that people who find themselves combating for freedom and liberty in overseas international locations look to Heritage for analysis and knowledge and data? So, sure, my love and my ardour is the nation, however my love and keenness goes to wherever individuals are combating for freedom and liberty and alternative.
Wood: Now quite a lot of people on the market are going to say, “What is your relationship with the present administration and present different leaders?” I do know that you just spoke with Speaker [Paul] Ryan already this morning on the telephone. What is your relationship with these totally different teams?
James: It’s fascinating having been on this city for so long as I’ve, a lot of them I’ve identified for a lot of, a few years. I knew Speaker Ryan when he was an intern and at Empower America. I’ve an excellent relationship with [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell and lots of nice relationships throughout the administration. I had the privilege of serving on the Trump transition and making ready them for management. So, I feel that I’m able to put all these great and nice strong relationships to work.
Wood: Final query for you. What have I not requested you that you’d need to share with these on the market which might be members of Heritage, who observe The Daily Signal, who’re trying ahead to attending to know you?
James: I’d need to share with them that that is an thrilling time. That they will look ahead to the Heritage that they’ve identified and liked for a really very long time. I stated to [Heritage Foundation President] Ed Feulner and to [Heritage Foundation senior adviser] Phil Truluck this morning that I perceive this treasured factor that they’ve created. And my job is to take care of it, nurture it, and develop it.
Wood: And we have now each cause to imagine you’re going to do merely that. Kay James, thanks a lot. Congratulations. Everybody within the constructing is worked up.
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