2019 Annual Report

Principled Leadership in a Challenging World

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Letter From the Chairman and President

Spreading the word: Heritage President Kay C. James delivers the keynote address to nearly 700 young African leaders attending the U.S. State Department’s Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in July. She spoke of the need for individual freedom, democracy, and free markets and the obligation to “work for the good of the people, not yourself.”

Washington seemed determined to tie itself in knots in 2019. The year started with the government shut down because of a budget impasse. It ended with a strictly partisan House vote to impeach the president.

Meanwhile, threats loomed around the world—from an increasingly aggressive China, an always-antagonistic Russia, and an ever-erratic North Korea, to name just three.

Such challenging times demand principled leadership, and The Heritage Foundation was there to provide it, with rock-solid policy recommendations grounded in rigorous research and the values that animated our nation’s Founders. On Capitol Hill, in administration offices, and at the Supreme Court, our ideas not only were heard but also made a difference. 

For the third year in a row, the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program ranked Heritage the No. 1 think tank in the world for impact on public policy—no small feat when you consider that we were competing against more than 8,000 think tanks around the globe.

Why is Heritage so effective year after year? Part of the answer lies in the fact that we have world-class researchers.

Part of it is that we excel at getting that research to those who are in positions to turn our recommendations into reality. We regularly brief lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries—even the president and vice president. In 2019, our experts testified to Congress 33 times, and the White House invited us over to talk about immigration, health care, big tech, and Middle East peace.

But another key ingredient to our success is the fact that all of us at Heritage share a true passion for the mission and an extraordinary love for this country and her people.

Exactly how much impact did we have? Over the course of the year, our work profoundly influenced no fewer than 78 national policies via legislation, agency rules, and executive orders.

This report recounts many of those policy victories and introduces you to some of the people behind them. The following pages give you just a taste of what you’ll find.

Heritage by the Numbers in 2019

Special Reports published
Legal Memoranda published
Regional donor events held
Congressional testimonies delivered
Backgrounders published
Issue Briefs published
Public programs conducted
Television interviews conducted
Commentaries placed in major publications
Radio interviews conducted
Subscribers to The Agenda, Heritage’s weekly email
Subscribers to The Daily Signal’s Morning Bell email
Heritage Twitter followers
Facebook fans
Heritage and Daily Signal website visits
Video views
No. 1 Think Tank
with the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy for three consecutive years
500,000 + Members
who made all this possible.
Thank you!

Major Victories in Washington

Immigration Loopholes Closed. Per our recommendations, the administration replaced “catch and release” with “catch and return” (sending asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their hearings), began denying asylum claims for those who passed through other countries without seeking asylum there, and ended the practice of family separation. The White House also drafted two immigration reform bills inspired by our recommendations.

Qualified Judges Take the Bench. Heritage educated Americans on constitutional originalism and on the qualifications of specific judicial nominees. Heritage’s online judicial tracker shows that more than 156 of the president’s judicial appointees have been confirmed.

Federal Abortion Funding Pared Back. The administration stripped tens of millions of taxpayer dollars from Planned Parenthood via the Title X program and worked with Heritage experts to craft new restrictions on federal funding for research that uses fetal tissue from elective abortions.

Congress Said “No” to the Green New Deal. Heritage did more than any other think tank to expose the unfeasibility and socialist aims of the failed Green New Deal.

Military Rebuilding Continued. The Senate’s 2020 National Defense Authorization Act adopted more than two-thirds of our recommendations for defense budgeting, modernization, and more. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps commandant and Army chief of staff began implementing forward-looking recommendations developed by Heritage researchers working on our landmark Rebuilding America’s Military Project.

Pro-Growth U.S.–Mexico–Canada Trade Deal Reached. We worked with the administration from day one to craft the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement in ways that would strengthen protections for intellectual property rights, open up new markets, and continue the tariff-free treatment of many goods and services. Heritage experts played a major role in fine-tuning early drafts of the deal, which was signed into law Jan. 16, 2020.

Major Victories on the World Stage

The U.S. Withdrew From Several Disadvantageous Treaties. For years, Heritage was the only think tank urging the U.S. to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and “unsign” the Arms Trade Treaty. In 2019, the administration announced it would do just that. It also served notice that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord—another win for common sense and the U.S. economy.

Britain Gets a Pro-Brexit Prime Minister. In the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson replaced Theresa May as prime minister. Shortly thereafter, he called for an early election—a de facto referendum on his pledge to withdraw the U.K. from the European Union—deal or no deal. His Conservative Party won a landslide victory. Heritage has long enjoyed a strong relationship with Johnson and his inner circle. We were the first U.S. think tank to call for Brexit and for a U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement—two pillars of Johnson’s platform.

True North: The Principles of Conservatism

Heritage kicked off our 2019 President’s Club meeting by unveiling “True North: The Principles of Conservatism.” The set of 14 core principles is designed to unite the conservative movement.

“While good conservatives may have differing views on many issues, there are fundamental principles to which we all must hold fast,” said President Kay C. James.

These principles, presented below, constitute a guide for building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.

  1. The federal government exists to preserve life, liberty, and property, and protect the sanctity of life; the freedom of speech, religion, the press, and assembly; the right to bear arms; equal and just treatment under the law; and the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.
  2. The federal government’s powers are limited to those named in the Constitution and should be exercised solely to protect the rights of its citizens.
  3. Judges should interpret and apply our laws and the Constitution based on their original meaning, not upon judges’ personal and political predispositions.
  4. Individuals and families—not government—make the best decisions regarding their and their children’s health, education, jobs, and welfare.
  5. The family is the foundation of civil society, and traditional marriage is its cornerstone.
  6. The federal deficit and debt must not place unreasonable financial burdens on future generations.
  7. Tax policies should raise only the minimum revenue necessary.
  8. America’s economy and the prosperity of its citizens are best served by a system of free enterprise.
  9. Regulations must not breach constitutional principles of limited government and the separation of powers.
  10. America must be a welcoming nation—one that promotes patriotic assimilation and is governed by laws that are fair, humane, and enforced to protect its citizens.
  11. Justice requires an efficient, fair, and effective criminal justice system.
  12. International agreements and organizations should not infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights or American sovereignty.
  13. America is strongest when our policies protect our national interests, preserve our alliances of free peoples, counter threats to our security, and advance economic freedom.
  14. The best way to ensure peace is through a strong national defense.

The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations are based on these principles and are not influenced by donations or outside political pressure.

Major Victories in Statehouses

Free Speech Protected on Campus. Heritage helped create and publish model legislation that five states (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin) used to protect free speech on campus.

School Choice Marched On. Six states now have Education Savings Account (ESA) programs, and we are closer than ever to achieving a federal military ESA program—an idea pioneered at Heritage.

“Cap and Trade” and Bailout Bills Blocked. Working with local allies, Heritage helped kill a ruinous climate change bill in Oregon and a Pennsylvania proposal to keep a noncompetitive nuclear plant going with subsidies.

Institutional Milestones

Heritage also achieved several institutional milestones in 2019. Among them:

The Feulner Institute Took Flight. In October, Heritage unveiled its fifth research institute. Named in honor of Heritage Founder Edwin J. Feulner, the new institute is charged with increasing knowledge of—and restoring confidence in—America’s founding values and principles. Its scholars, guest speakers, and outreach programs will reaffirm the sanctity and sovereignty of the individual, equality of opportunity, limited constitutional government, and economic freedom—and bring these ideas to new audiences.

Judicial Clerkship Training Program Launched. Our Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies convened the first-ever Federal Judicial Clerkship Training Academy—a two-day program for recent or soon-to-be law school graduates who have accepted federal clerkships. The groundbreaking program was designed to give freshly minted lawyers “tools not taught” in law school but ones that will help them “hit the ground running” and excel as clerks.

Two New Member Events. At our first-ever “campus fly-in,” Heritage members received issue briefings from Heritage experts and state-of-play updates on pending legislation from seven House and Senate members. Our annual President’s Club meeting featured a new Heritage Honors Gala celebrating all that is beautiful about our nation. Among the featured speakers was Vice President Mike Pence, making his second appearance at a Heritage event in just two months.

Our Young Leaders Program Turned 40. Heritage has now sent more than 4,500 nascent conservative leaders out into the world—all of them well versed in founding principles, able to identify “True North” on policy questions, and determined to stand up for what is right.

Executive Vice President Dr. Kim Holmes talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the 2019 President’s Club Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Chairman Barb Van Andel-Gaby speaks at Heritage’s 2019 Annual Leadership Conference in California.

Laying the Foundations of Future Success

To make sure Heritage remains the world’s most impactful think tank for generations to come, we vigorously pursued our three-year strategic plan throughout the year.

For example, we began a formal succession-planning process to strengthen our management team and ensure that future leadership transitions will be seamless.

Recognizing that policies are most often adopted when they have buy-in from the American people, we worked assiduously to broaden our outreach to new audiences and the media they follow. During the year, we engaged in 581 meetings, briefings, and other relationship-building activities with non-traditional conservative audiences, from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute to historically black colleges and universities. Outreach to non-conservative media outlets generated more than 3,000 articles and columns conveying our policy views.

Even as we broadened our reach at home, we were extending our reach globally. Throughout 2019, we met with world leaders, including the presidents of Estonia, France, Mongolia, and Taiwan, the Australian prime minister, and numerous ambassadors and foreign ministers. We hosted an African Ambassadors Dinner with over 20 ambassadors, welcomed diplomats from the member states of the Arab League, and convened a meeting with over a dozen Eastern European diplomats to promote the Three Seas Initiative.

Heritage has always been innovative, looking for new ways to advance our time-tested principles in an ever-changing world. We can’t afford not to. Technologies will continue to advance rapidly. American demographics and American culture will shift dramatically. To meet these challenges and turn them into opportunities, Heritage formed three Innovation Workshops in 2019.

Our Future of American Education team examined how best to counter the taxpayer-funded progressive revolution being taught in America’s classrooms. Our Future of Work team analyzed how the digital and robotics revolution will affect the human workforce. And our American Exceptionalism and Culture team designed strategies to counter the Left’s takeover of our cultural, media, and corporate institutions and is designing strategies for a counteroffensive.

Forward thinking alone cannot keep Heritage a world-class institution. To carry out our mission, to constantly improve and innovate, requires adequate resources. We are happy to report that you, our members, once again gave us the support we needed. Indeed, our revenues reached a record high: $120.5 million.

We are extremely grateful for your trust in us. And we hope that, as you read the following pages and reflect on all that we have accomplished together, you will be as proud as we are to be a part of The Heritage Foundation.


Barb Van Andel-Gaby

Kay C. James

2019 Staff Awards

From the reception desk to the boardroom, Heritage is blessed with amazing people. In 2019, we recognized four of our colleagues for their outstanding contributions toward making Heritage a best-in-class operation.

Janine Ryan

Director, Events

Recipient of the President’s Award for “striving to build an enduring organization and for excellence and unfailing devotion to the cause of freedom.”

William Poole

Senior Editor

Recipient of the Drs. W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell Award for “outstanding contributions to the analysis and promotion of the free society.”

Kaitlyn Wood

Director, Talent Development and Compensation

Recipient of the Annie Hambleton Award for “unfailing devotion to duty, commitment to the ideals of The Heritage Foundation, and extraordinary courtesy to Heritage colleagues.”

Dakota Wood

Senior Research Fellow, Defense Programs

Recipient of the Joseph Shattan Award for “powerful writing that compellingly presents conservative ideas to policymakers and the American people.”

Honors Given

Founder Edwin J. Feulner received the Clare Boothe Luce Award, Heritage’s highest honor, at the 2019 President’s Club Meeting. He also received the 2019 Leonard E. Read Distinguished Alumni Award for “outstanding contributions to the causes of liberty and economic education” from the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE).

Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit received the Defender of the Constitution Award after giving the 2019 Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at Heritage in October.

Mollie Hemingway, author, columnist, and political commentator, received the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship from Kay C. James and David Azerrad at Heritage’s 2019 Resource Bank in May.

Charles Mitchell, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, received the Robin and Jocelyn Martin Young Leaders Program Distinguished Intern Alumni Award from Vice President Bridgett Wagner at the 2019 President’s Club Meeting in October.

Honors Received

President Kay C. James and Vice President Angela Sailor received an award for their work on The White House Initiative for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

James also received the Legacy Award from the U.S. Dream Academy, a prominent youth mentorship organization. She was also named one of “50 People Changing the Game in Washington” by the National Journal.

Business Insider named Domestic Policy Studies Director Marie Fishpaw one of 34 “health care power players” shaping policy and politics in D.C.

Executive Vice President Kim R. Holmes was confirmed as a member of the National Council on the Humanities.

Vice President John G. Malcolm, our Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow, was confirmed as a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s board of directors.

President Trump appointed Paul Winfree, our Richard F. Aster Fellow, to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

In Memoriam

Todd Herrick, 1942-2019 Generous philanthropist and former Heritage board member, passionately dedicated to growing the conservative movement.

David Koch, 1940-2019 Renowned philanthropist and friend of liberty.

Harold Siegel, 1929-2019 Long-time Heritage supporter and chairman of our New York City Community Committee.