Heritage Foundation President, Executive Vice President Announce Resignations

Heritage Foundation President, Executive Vice President Announce Resignations

Mar 22, 2021 6 min read

WASHINGTON — After serving as The Heritage Foundation’s leadership team for the last three years, President Kay C. James and Executive Vice President Dr. Kim R. Holmes have announced their resignations. James will be staying on as president for up to six months until a replacement is found, after which she will become a Heritage distinguished visiting fellow. She will also remain on Heritage’s board of trustees. Holmes’ resignation is effective April 16.

“When we came on board as the executive leadership team three years ago, we set several goals and told Heritage’s board of trustees that we would serve for three to five years to see them through,” said James. “We accomplished everything we set out to do. Now it’s time to let someone else take the reins.”

James has served as the president of The Heritage Foundation, America’s premier conservative think tank, since 2018 and as a trustee of Heritage’s board since 2005. Throughout her service at Heritage, she has been dedicated to helping develop and promote solutions to the issues Americans face that are based on the principles of individual freedom, limited government, free enterprise, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

With an unwavering commitment to Heritage’s members, to its board and staff, and to the American people, James has pushed the organization to new heights. One of her great passions has been guiding Heritage to reach out and share its message with young people, minorities, and women who don’t necessarily consider themselves conservative but who practice conservative principles in their daily lives.

During her time at Heritage, James has been instrumental in the organization playing a major role in influencing public policy in areas such as the economic and health recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, election integrity, immigration, China’s increasing global influence, Big Tech, improving education, tax reform and deregulation, strengthening America’s civil society, and more.

She also created Heritage’s newest policy institute, the Edwin J. Feulner Institute, which seeks to reinvigorate every American’s appreciation for this exceptional nation and its founding principles. Under her leadership, Heritage also created its Center for Technology Policy, which deals with high-level policy solutions for the ever-increasing roles the internet, artificial intelligence, and other advanced technologies have in government, business, and national defense, as well as their impact on public speech and personal privacy.

“I am incredibly grateful to Kay James and Kim Holmes for their leadership of The Heritage Foundation over the past three years,” said Barb Van Andel-Gaby, chairman of Heritage’s board of trustees. “Their tireless dedication to Heritage has taken the organization to new heights, led to numerous accomplishments, and positioned the Heritage team to be ready for the battles ahead. Heritage today is the most important conservative organization in America because of their leadership.

“Working alongside Kay, I have come to know a caring and compassionate leader whose love for America is evident in all that she does. That’s why I am so excited she will be staying closely connected to Heritage as a distinguished visiting fellow after the board hires her successor. It is important that we have a successful transition and having Kay remain affiliated with Heritage is great news for everyone.”

Van Andel-Gaby added: “Today, the Heritage leadership team and staff are as focused as ever on the Heritage mission. The fabric of our republic is being threatened, and the talented scholars at Heritage are working harder than ever to push back on the progressive left in America. Heritage’s board stands with them as they continue to fight.”

James said serving as Heritage’s president was the pinnacle of a long career.

“I have enjoyed leading such an astounding group of professionals who truly care about the future of this country and who come to work every day to develop solutions for the issues that Americans face,” said James. “I am proud of the many things we have accomplished together, including reaching out to new, nontraditional audiences of women, minorities, and young people and showing them how conservative solutions provide the best outcomes for all Americans.

“We helped America get through the coronavirus pandemic by forming the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission and bringing experts together from across the country to devise ways to save the lives and livelihoods of Americans and of people all around the world. I am also proud that we led Heritage through the pandemic while keeping us on strong financial footing and ensuring the organization continued to provide desperately needed policy solutions to governments and the American people even as our employees worked remotely. We made sure our employees were always safe and had the resources they needed to carry out their critical work. We also helped other conservative organizations survive the COVID storm by offering help with fundraising, communicating with constituencies, and managing during times of crisis.

“When I became president in 2018, I brought with me a strong management agenda, including creating a multiyear strategic plan with measurable goals, zero-based budgeting, succession planning for senior management, an annual employee survey to assess our strengths and opportunities, senior leadership training, enterprise-wide risk management, and customer service training. I believe that agenda has made Heritage a stronger organization and will ensure that it continues developing solutions for America for years to come.

“During our time here, Kim and I restructured several of our teams, such as communications, development, and government relations, to improve our impact and outreach. Our research and media teams have put out more content than ever before. We are reaching more Americans through our virtual events, media interviews, and opinion pieces than we ever have in Heritage’s history. And we are maintaining a strong financial position by making smart budgeting decisions and coming up with innovative fundraising strategies.

“I hope that one of the most profound, yet simple, things I did was to develop and commit to writing Heritage’s set of 14 ‘True North Principles of Conservatism.’ Articulating them helps us to be fully transparent with the public and policy makers about the principles that guide our policy recommendations, to hold this organization accountable to always following those principles, and to lay out the bedrock principles for which the conservative movement must always stand.

“Over the past three years, Kim and I achieved everything we set out to do, and we did it with a terrific group of dedicated people who want nothing but what’s best for America. It has been an absolute honor and privilege to work with them.”

Under James’ and Holmes’ leadership, out of over 8,200 think tanks worldwide, Heritage was ranked No. 1 in the world for having the “Most Significant Impact on Public Policy” three years in a row, No. 1 for “Best Use of Social Media and Networks,” No. 1 for the “Best Use of the Internet,” and rose from No. 13 to No. 6 in the world for “Best Managed Think Tank,” according to the University of Pennsylvania’s world-renowned Global Go-To Think Tank Index.

James said of Holmes, “As a historian, diplomat, policy expert, author, and skilled manager, Kim Holmes has served The Heritage Foundation, the conservative movement, and our nation with distinction. But even more importantly to me, during his tenure as executive vice president, his wise counsel and institutional experience have been invaluable to me. Heritage and I are extremely grateful for his dedicated service and tremendous contributions. He will be sorely missed as a guiding spirit of The Heritage Foundation.”

Holmes’ service at Heritage spanned 36 years. He joined Heritage in 1985 and rose to vice president in 1991. He oversaw the think tank’s defense and foreign policy team for more than two decades and was a founding editor of the annual Index of Economic Freedom. In 2002, he left Heritage for the U.S. State Department to serve as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs during President George W. Bush’s first term.

In 2005, he returned to Heritage and wrote the book “Liberty’s Best Hope” and followed up with “Rebound,” a roadmap for the nation to bounce back from a perceived decline by reconnecting with the roots of its greatness. In 2018, Holmes agreed to serve as executive vice president at James’ request, bringing a wealth of both policy and management experience to the role. 

“It has been a privilege to work at Heritage for over three decades,” said Holmes. “I am profoundly thankful to Kay James and to Heritage’s founder, Ed Feulner, for their support and leadership over the years. Heritage is strongly positioned to provide principled conservative public policy solutions to the current challenges facing America. I am deeply proud of our accomplishments and honored to have played a role in helping Heritage to be ‘True North’ for the conservative movement long into the future. I look forward to seeing the great successes yet to come.”

The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s most broadly supported public policy research institute, with more than a half-million members. Founded in 1973, it develops and promotes public policy solutions that advance free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values, and a strong national defense. Heritage does not support policies that deviate from these principles, nor are our recommendations ever influenced by donations or outside political pressure.

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