National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Launches to ‘Save Lives and Livelihoods’

National Coronavirus Recovery Commission Launches to ‘Save Lives and Livelihoods’

Apr 6, 2020 4 min read

WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation announced today the formation of the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, which will examine the extraordinary public health crisis facing America and the steps needed to move prudently toward recovery.

The commission will be led by Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James and includes top experts and thinkers from government, public health, disaster response and relief, academia and education, business, and the faith community. The list of commissioners is below and available at

The experts on the commission will bring their specialized experience and expertise to chart out the path to best navigate our nation through this crisis to determine when and how to begin to get Americans’ lives “back to normal” again. The commission’s work will consider two primary categories—crisis mitigation as well as recovery and restoration—and answer important questions that will serve as a roadmap to America’s post-pandemic future.

“Good public health policy is good economic policy,” said Heritage President Kay C. James. “Saving lives and saving livelihoods are part of the same road to recovery that we need to pursue today. A physically healthy America is an economically strong America, so we need to think of them in concert rather than as competing priorities.”

Throughout her career, James has served on numerous boards and commissions. She also brings experience leading crisis management teams through trying times while serving as Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources and as the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The National Coronavirus Recovery Commission will carefully examine decisions that policymakers are making that significantly impact the scope of this crisis and the duration of social restrictions, economic hardship, recovery, and the potential permanent effects.

Two leading scholars and policy experts, Paul Winfree and Charmaine Yoest, will serve as the commission’s executive directors.

Winfree directs Heritage’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. He previously worked in the White House and Congress. His research focuses on public finance, health economics, economic history, and microeconomic modeling. Winfree is also chairman of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. He has a master of science in economics and economic history from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a bachelor of science in economics from George Mason University.

Yoest is vice president of Heritage’s Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity. Prior to joining Heritage, she directed intergovernmental, public affairs, and public liaison programs at Office of National Drug Control Policy, and also served as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, Yoest earned a masters and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.

The commission’s initial meeting is scheduled for April 9 with additional videoconferences through the month of April. At the conclusion of the commission’s meetings, the reports from each discussion will be compiled into a final report for the American people and their policymakers.

“Americans are confronting one of the greatest challenges of their lifetime and they are seeking answers for how we navigate through this crisis and toward recovery,” said Rob Bluey, spokesman for the commission. “This commission will gather ideas from experts and the general public for consideration. We welcome contributions from the American people to make sure all ideas are considered and the best recommendations are ultimately made to our leaders.”

For media inquiries, contact Gloria Taylor at [email protected].




Kay C. James, Chairman

President, The Heritage Foundation

George Allen

Former Governor and U.S. Senator, Commonwealth of Virginia


John A. Allison IV

Retired Chairman and CEO BB&T, Retired President and CEO Cato Institute

Lawrence J. Blanford

President & CEO, Green Mountain Coffee (Retired); Member, Board of Directors, Steelcase Inc.

Kevin P. Chavous

President of Academics, Policy, and Schools, at and former Education Committee Chair of the Council of the District of Columbia

Edwin J. Feulner

Founder, The Heritage Foundation


Timothy E. Flanigan

Chief Legal Officer, Cancer Treatment Centers of America


The Honorable William H. Frist, M.D.

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the Executive Council of the Health Service Investment Firm Cressey & Company


Noe Landini

Managing Director and CEO, Rex Management


Rev. Samuel Rodriguez

President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference


Nelson J. Sabatini

Managing Director Berkeley Research Group, Former Secretary of Health State of Maryland


Joni Eareckson Tada 

Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends International Disability Center


Frances Townsend

Executive Vice President at MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, LLC


Dr. Richard J. Tubb

Retired Brigadier General; White House Physician Emeritus


J.C. Watts

Former Member of U.S. House of Representatives; Founder & Chairman, J.C. Watts Companies


Gail Wilensky

Economist and Senior Fellow, Project HOPE


Robert L. Woodson Jr.

Founder and President, Woodson Center


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