WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Heritage Foundation Board of Trustees this week approved the appointment of Dr. Charmaine Yoest as vice president of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity.
“We are excited to welcome such a talented leader, dedicated conservative, and policy scholar to our best-in-class team at Heritage,” said President Kay Coles James. “Charmaine joins our leadership team at a critical time for America. As we confront challenges and formulate policy solutions, she will be at the forefront of helping us make a tremendous impact.”
Yoest brings to Heritage years of experience in public policy and government. She most recently served in the Trump administration as an associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In this role, she directed intergovernmental, public affairs, and public liaison programs at ONDCP to support the Trump administration’s response to the opioid crisis, working across the federal government, with state and local governments, and the private sector.
Prior to her White House role, Yoest was assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She provided policy direction and management of the department’s public affairs programs and coordination of strategic messaging across all of HHS’ 11 operating divisions.
“This is a pivotal moment for advancing a conservative vision for America. And I’m honored to be joining the expert team at The Heritage Foundation that has been leading conservative policy development for over four decades,” said Yoest. “Heritage was recently recognized as the No. 1 think tank in the world for impact on public policy, which is a significant recognition of the cutting-edge policy entrepreneurship Heritage produces.”
As Heritage’s vice president of the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, Yoest will be responsible for providing strategic guidance in domestic policy areas that include health care, welfare, education, life, marriage, and religious liberty. She will lead a team of researchers that includes Domestic Policy Studies, the Center for Education Policy, and the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society.
Over the course of her career in public policy and government, Yoest has appeared on every major television network and cable outlet, and has been published in the leading national publications. She has provided testimony to Congress on multiple occasions. And she is the author of “Mother in the Middle,” an examination of child care policy.
Yoest began her career working in the White House for President Ronald Reagan in presidential personnel and later served as a senior adviser to Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee during his presidential campaign. She was president and CEO of Americans United for Life for nearly eight years. During her tenure, the public interest law firm grew significantly, more than tripling its budget and donors. She also directed a state-based strategy that resulted in over 80 pieces of legislation passed nationwide and featured innovative online outreach.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, Yoest earned a masters and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. While there, she received Mellon, Olin, Bradley and Kohler fellowships and wrote a dissertation on parental leave policy, after directing a national study on parental leave funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Yoest and her husband are the parents of five children.
Yoest will succeed Jennifer Marshall, who will continue to work with Heritage in a new part-time role as a senior visiting fellow in the Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity as she pursues doctoral studies in moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America. She will also be a visiting lecturer and direct the Institute of Theology and Public Life at Reformed Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
“Jennifer is a true champion of a robust civil society and traditional American values,” said James. “We’re grateful for the leadership she’s brought to Heritage and look forward to continue working alongside her in her new role.”
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. For two years in a row, the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Society Program has rated Heritage the No. 1 think tank worldwide for impact on public policy.