A Message from the Chairman and President

True North. Always.

America has few “full service” think tanks for a very simple reason: It’s not easy to assemble and develop talent in a wide range of disciplines.

But being a “full service” think tank does have its advantages.

When complex problems present themselves, Heritage is able to draw on the expertise of any and—if need be—all of its research centers to develop practical, comprehensive solutions beyond the reach of most research institutions.

Case in point: the 2018 Valentine’s Day murder of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The Left immediately seized on the tragedy to demand oppressive federal gun control laws. But Heritage took a more thoughtful approach, assembling an inter-departmental task force to develop a measured, holistic response.

Experts from our Meese Legal Center, our Center for Education Policy, and Domestic Policy Studies produced a series of practical reports running the gamut from best practices in school security to recommendations for improving law enforcement, mental health services, and school discipline policies.

Our communications and congressional relations teams aggressively promoted our recommendations in the media and on Capitol Hill.

In the end, we succeeded in blocking the attempts to impose wholesale restrictions on basic constitutional rights. Moreover, we saw schools across the country implement many of our recommended best practices. And at year’s end, we applauded as the administration withdrew the ruinous Obama-era school discipline “guidance” that had left our classrooms more vulnerable to disorderly and violent students.

Heritage’s institutes and departments pulled together on many other issues through the year, launching coordinated campaigns on everything from the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to border security initiatives. And in every instance, our unified teams pulled in but one direction: toward the True North of conservatism.

New Leaders, Same Mission

On Dec. 19, 2017, The Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees announced it had found a distinguished successor to Heritage President Edwin J. Feulner:
Kay Coles James.

Executive Vice President
Kim R. Holmes

Heritage President
Kay Coles James

Chairman of the Board
Barb Van Andel-Gaby

Heritage staff responded enthusiastically to the news, as did conservative leaders across the country. With James at the helm, there was no doubt that Heritage would remain, in the words of The Wall Street Journal, “True North”—the lodestar of the conservative movement.

After settling into the president’s office on Jan. 1, James immediately launched into a marathon of networking, meeting with all members of House and Senate leadership as well as more than a dozen top administration officials—including one who works out of an Oval Office.

James is determined that Heritage must carry its conservative message far beyond the halls of power in D.C., however. To grow the conservative movement, additional outreach is needed—especially among America’s young people, minority communities, and women. And she is leading by example.

Shortly after taking the helm of Heritage, James hosted a Communities of Color Breakfast, a monthly gathering of private-sector thought leaders addressing problems facing minority communities. The breakfast series has been co-sponsored for years by the National Urban League and Insight America, but this was the first ever held at Heritage.

By mid-year, in addition to being a regular contributor to the opinion pages of FoxNews.com, she was writing a column for Black Press USA. Those columns appear in black-owned and operated newspapers in over a score of cities across the country.

In July, she reached out to young people, speaking at Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit. The following month, she traveled to Detroit for the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists. There she spoke with members of the NABJ board.

Throw in more than 15 trips to meet with Heritage members at local gatherings, and you can see it was a fast-paced year, indeed.

Matching James step-for-step was Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D., named Heritage’s executive vice president in February. Holmes has been a fixture at Heritage for 30 years, holding a variety of posts—most recently as senior vice president for research.

In announcing Holmes’ promotion, then-board chairman Thomas A. Saunders III noted, “Kim has a deep understanding of and appreciation for scholarly research. He and Kay provide Heritage with a powerful combination of domestic and foreign policy experience.”

With Saunders stepping down from the chairmanship—a post he had held for nearly a decade—the trustees unanimously elected Barb Van Andel-Gaby as his successor. A board member for more than 20 years, Van Andel-Gaby had served as vice chairman since 2014.

From May until Van Andel-Gaby’s formal installation as chairman in September, Saunders worked closely with her to ensure a seamless transition of leadership. He remains an active member of the board.

Heritage is thankful for Saunders’ past service and his continued commitment to Heritage and the conservative movement. In appreciation of his commitment to conservative values, in October, we presented him with our prestigious Clare Boothe Luce Award and dedicated the 2019 Index of U.S. Military Strength to him.  

Mike Pompeo chose Heritage as the site of his first public policy address as U.S. secretary of state—an acknowledgment of the role Heritage scholars play in shaping American foreign policy. More than 80 members of the media attended the May 21 speech titled “After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy.”

Worldwide Impact

Our ability to develop and successfully market practical, conservative policy solutions for today’s thorniest problems was recognized in February, when the University of Pennsylvania rated us as the most impactful think tank—not just in the U.S., but in the entire world.

In reading this report, you’ll see that we continued to earn that honor throughout the year, winning victory after victory in the policy wars.

Heritage’s growing international influence is one reason that, for the first time in our 45-year history, Heritage was chosen for the honor of co-hosting the North American Think Tank Summit in February.

Our influence on foreign policy was evident as the administration embraced our recommendations to suspend aid to terrorist-supporting Pakistan, withdrew from the anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council, and backed away from a highly disadvantageous nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

On the home front, we were pleased to see Heritage recommendations accepted by all three branches of government.

The administration continued to roll back the regulatory state, saving Americans a net $23 billion by axing 12 existing regulations for each significant new one.

Congress boosted defense spending for the second consecutive year.

And the Supreme Court issued a string of pro-liberty decisions, such as those that defended non-union members’ right to refuse paying union dues and upheld a Christian baker’s right to decline celebrating a same-sex marriage.

Of course, one of our more consequential victories—the nomination and confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court—involved all three branches. It was Heritage, you’ll recall, that put Kavanaugh’s name on President Trump’s short list of candidates for the highest court in the land.

Reaching out to new audiences, Heritage hosted a Communities of Color Breakfast featuring Jared Kushner. At the head table (left to right): Cara Morris of the National Urban League; Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James; Kushner; Elroy Sailor of Insight America.

World-Class Speakers

Another measure of Heritage’s clout is the increasing frequency with which domestic and foreign leaders choose our lecture halls to make major policy pronouncements.

In 2018, three top administration officials made international news from the podium of Allison Auditorium:

  • U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley explained the rationale for the U.S. withdrawal from the Human Rights Council;
  • Mike Pompeo made his first policy address as U.S. secretary of state, outlining the new U.S. strategy for dealing with Iran; and
  • National Security Advisor John Bolton unveiled the administration’s new Africa policy.

Two more Cabinet members—Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar—visited our lecture halls, as did nine U.S. senators and 18 U.S. representatives.

Top military officials came, too, from home and abroad.

Secretary of the Army Mark Esper; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Admiral John Richardson, the chief of Naval Operations; and Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard—all spoke on the challenges their service branches face.

H.E. Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, traveled from Brussels to deliver a speech on “The Value of NATO in the 21st Century.” More than a dozen other foreign dignitaries—including the president of the Republic of Georgia, Poland’s secretary of state, and the ambassador of Romania—made Heritage Washington’s premier forum for major policy announcements.

Beyond these public events were literally dozens of private meetings with world leaders—on premises and off. For example, in May, Executive Vice President Kim R. Holmes and I (Kay Coles James) met with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres here at Heritage. In November, we hosted Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi for breakfast.

In April, I had the privilege of sitting at the head table for the state luncheon in honor of President and Mrs. Emmanuel Macron of France. It was a welcome opportunity to discuss Heritage, France, and shared priorities with the visiting leader.

Heritage By the Numbers 2018

10. 9 M
Visitor Sessions
2. 1 M
Facebook Fans
636 K
303 K
Subscribers to
The Agenda
26. 9 M
Visitor Sessions
1. 9 M
Daily Signal
Facebook Fans
405 K
Subscribers to
The Morning Bell
456 M
Views of Heritage
and TDS Videos
Events Held
Lectures &
Seminars Conducted
Issue Briefs
Legal Memoranda
Special Reports
Testimonies Delivered
1, 513
TV Interviews
1, 540
Commentaries Placed in
Major Publications
3, 229
Radio Interviews
500 K+
Heritage Foundation members who made
all of the above possible. Thank you!

National Security Advisor John Bolton, interviewed by Executive Vice President Kim Holmes, unveiled the Trump administration’s new Africa policy at Heritage on Dec. 13.

Institutional Milestones

Along with our policy victories, Heritage registered quite a few institutional achievements in 2018.

On May 16, we celebrated completion of the E.W. Richardson Building with a dedication ceremony that featured remarks by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The seven-story, 36,000 square foot building is named in honor of World War II B-24 Liberator pilot Rich Richardson. It provides safe and convenient housing for interns, visiting fellows, and VIP guests. Our summer interns moved in just three days after the opening ceremony.

In September, we opened our newest policy shop: the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget. Under the direction of Romina Boccia, the center is dedicated to restoring fiscal responsibility to the nation’s affairs by reducing excessive federal taxing and spending.

Later that month, the Board of Trustees approved creation of a new division dedicated exclusively to promoting Heritage’s ideas in Congress and the Executive Branch. Thomas Binion, who has led our government relations team to tremendous success since 2016, was named vice president of the new department.

We ended the year reaching—and exceeding—a financial milestone. Some in the think tank world had thought our six-year goal of $750 million for the Reclaim America campaign was far too ambitious. But they underestimated the dedication and generosity of our members, who contributed a grand total of $831 million during that period.

2018 Staff Awards

From the reception desk to the boardroom, Heritage is blessed with amazing people. In 2018, we recognized four of our remarkable colleagues for their outstanding contributions toward making—and keeping—Heritage a best-in-class organization:

Rob Bluey

Rob Bluey, our vice president for communications and founding editor of The Daily Signal, received the President’s Award for “striving to build an enduring organization and for excellence and unfailing devotion to the cause of freedom.”

Bruce Klingner

Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for Northeast Asia, received the Drs. W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell Award for “outstanding contributions to the analysis and promotion of the Free Society.”

Mercedes Bendeck

Mercedes Bendeck, senior conference services manager for events, received the Annie Hambleton Award for “unfailing devotion to duty, commitment to the ideals of The Heritage Foundation, and extraordinary courtesy to Heritage colleagues.”

Paul Larkin

Paul Larkin, the John, Barbara, and Victoria Rumpel senior legal research fellow, received the Joseph Shattan Award for “powerful writing that compellingly presents conservative ideas to policymakers and the American people.”

The Road Ahead

Thanks to the support of our members and our amazingly talented staff, Heritage closed out 2018 bigger, smarter, and more cohesive than ever. But even as we take pride in the work we’ve done and our hard-earned achievements, we realize there’s much more that needs to be done.

It is a truism that, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. And in 2018, we took steps to assure that Heritage remains a best-in-class institution well into the future.

We went through a six-month strategic planning exercise that involved every department in Heritage. In the end, we identified five strategic goals that will guide our efforts over the next three years.

We also established three Innovation Workshops—inter-departmental working groups that will analyze emerging issues in areas critical to assuring that America remains, in the words of Ronald Reagan, the world’s “shining city on a hill.” With the help of these forward-looking groups, Heritage will continue to lead the way in developing innovative conservative policies and effective coalitions to help shape the future of work, future of education, and American values and the American character.

Heritage will always respond to change with insight and innovation. But our vision and our values remain unchanged. We are unshakably determined to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.

The new leadership in the House of Representatives will make achieving that goal more difficult, but Heritage has been overcoming obstacles erected by the Left for more than 45 years. We’ve got this!

We will continue to promote school choice and to oppose those who would give Washington full control of our health care under the banner of “Medicare for All.” We will keep fighting to improve border security and close the dangerous loopholes in our immigration system. We will keep pushing for pro-growth economic policies, free trade, and a strong national defense.

In other words, we will continue to fight for the principles and values that animated our nation’s Founders—the same principles and values cherished by our members and the worldwide conservative movement.

Heritage has been the standard bearer of that movement for nearly a half-century. All that time, we have helped advance the cause of liberty and the rule of law around the world … and hundreds of millions are now freer, more prosperous, and more secure as a result.

And so we look forward to 2019, clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, but confident in our ability to advance policies that will improve the lot of all Americans. And marching, always marching, toward True North.


Barb Van Andel-Gaby
Kay Coles James

Notable in 2018

Thomas A. Saunders (right) with Paul Teller.

Honors Given …

Fox News host and political analyst Tucker Carlson received our 2018 Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship.

Then-Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (now D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge) Neomi Rao received the Robin and Jocelyn Martin Young Leaders Program Distinguished Intern Alumni Award.

Thomas A. Saunders III, former chairman of our Board of Trustees, received the Clare Boothe Luce Award, Heritage’s highest honor.

The Luce Award was also presented posthumously to former Rep. Jack Kemp.

… Honors Received

The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program rated Heritage as the world’s most impactful think tank.

President Trump appointed Kay Coles James to the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. The commissioners subsequently elected her to be chairman.

President Trump also nominated Executive Vice President Kim R. Holmes, Ph.D., to the National Council on the Humanities.

The Hon. Edwin Meese III received United in Purpose’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Founder Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D., received the 2018 William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Political Thought from the National Review Institute.

Vice President for Policy Promotion Bridgett Wagner received a United in Purpose Impact Award.

Vice President for Communications Rob Bluey received the 2018 Buckley Award from America’s Future Foundation for “spreading the ideas of liberty and free markets across the nation [and] reaching new and wider audiences.”

Helen & Richard DeVos

In Memoriam

Richard DeVos inspired countless people to dream big dreams and work hard to make them come true. Best known as a founder of Amway and the owner of the Orlando Magic, Rich also was a widely admired philanthropist. He and his late wife, Helen, generously funded our DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. The author of “Compassionate Capitalism” and three other books, he pushed Heritage to adopt a concise mission statement—17 words that have guided our efforts for two decades.

On the Move

In February, the Senate confirmed John Mitnick as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Christopher Byrnes succeeded him as general counsel and secretary of Heritage.

In May, Alden Abbott became general counsel of the Federal Trade Commission. Thomas Jipping succeeded him as deputy director of our Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.