The Heritage Foundation Names Dr. Kevin Roberts Next President

The Heritage Foundation Names Dr. Kevin Roberts Next President

Nation's premier conservative think tank welcomes head of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Oct 14, 2021 4 min read

Kevin Roberts addresses Heritage Foundation staff Photo Credit: Willis Bretz

WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation today announced Dr. Kevin Roberts will become the seventh president in the think tank’s 48-year history. Roberts will succeed President Kay C. James later this year when he takes the helm of America’s premier conservative think tank.

“Since last spring, Heritage’s Board of Trustees has been searching for a leader who demonstrates an unwavering commitment to Heritage’s mission and the conservative principles that guide our research,” said Barb Van Andel-Gaby, chairman of Heritage’s Board of Trustees. “After looking at candidates from across the country and throughout the conservative movement, one person truly stood out: Heritage’s trustees have unanimously elected Dr. Kevin Roberts as our next president.

“While there were many outstanding candidates we interviewed during the search process, Kevin was the best choice to lead The Heritage Foundation at this pivotal time in our nation’s history. Kevin has an entrepreneurial spirit and a deep enthusiasm for conservative solutions, and he will bring with him a different perspective as a D.C. outsider.

“Kevin’s natural leadership talents and commitment to our mission make him the right fit for Heritage. He will ensure that our unprecedented influence on Capitol Hill continues, and he shares our belief that Heritage must lead not only conservatives—but America—with a positive vision for the future.”

Roberts currently serves as the chief executive officer of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an Austin-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute and the largest state think tank in the nation. Under Roberts’ leadership, TPPF more than doubled in size. He also expanded the Texas think tank’s influence nationwide, opening an office in Washington, D.C., so that TPPF research might better inform federal policy debates.

As president of The Heritage Foundation, Roberts will continue to lead policy research efforts on many of the issues he championed at TPPF, including education, health care, border security, election integrity, and more, and his leadership will also be critical in pushing back on the radical, socialist agenda being advanced by the left at all levels of government. At a time when so many bad ideas are coming out of Washington, his experience advancing sound policy at the state and national levels will be vital.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead The Heritage Foundation and honored the board selected me as its next president,” Roberts said. “Heritage has led the conservative movement with distinction and its policy solutions have improved the lives of our fellow citizens. I look forward to continuing this legacy and addressing the challenges we face today and in the future.

“Heritage is known throughout the conservative movement and policy community as a solutions factory. As a lifelong, movement conservative, I have always seen Heritage as the beacon of conservatism and of the American dream. In recent years, as I have worked with Heritage scholars on several issues, I came to appreciate Heritage’s critical role at this particular point in history. Coming from a state as free and prosperous as Texas, I’m eager to share the innovative ideas we developed and build on them.”

A lifelong educator, Roberts earned his Ph.D. in American history from the University of Texas. After several years of teaching history at the collegiate level, Roberts in 2006 left the university to found John Paul the Great Academy, a co-ed, K-12 Catholic liberal arts school in Lafayette, Louisiana. Roberts served as the academy’s president and headmaster for seven years.

In 2013, he resigned from the academy to become president of Wyoming Catholic College. Under his leadership, the college adopted a policy of refusing to accept federal student loans and grants, lest it be forced to violate Catholic tenets. This independent stance led The New York Times to describe the school as being full of “cowboy Catholics.”

James, who has served as Heritage president since 2018, will continue to serve on the Board of Trustees, a role she’s held since 2005. She says she looks forward to remaining active as a distinguished visiting fellow at Heritage and in the conservative movement going forward.

“I’m thrilled that the board has chosen Kevin to lead The Heritage Foundation,” said James. “While Heritage ranks as the top think tank in the world for our impact and we have experienced truly incredible achievements during our nearly 50 years, there is still work to be done to ensure that we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the next 50 years.

“Kevin is here to take Heritage to the next level. Throughout the interview process, I quickly came to see that—of all the incredible candidates for this position—Kevin had the vision, the passion, the leadership ability, and that down-to-his-core commitment to the True North principles of conservatism combined in one single package that made him the obvious choice to lead Heritage.”

In addition to his doctorate, Roberts holds a master’s degree in history from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Roberts and his wife have four children. They will relocate to the Washington, D.C., area.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education institute, The Heritage Foundation is the nation’s premier conservative think tank. It is the most broadly supported think tank in the world, drawing support from more than 500,000 members. Heritage’s policy impact is also unrivaled, with the University of Pennsylvania’s annual report on think tanks recognizing Heritage three years in a row as the think tank with the most significant impact on public policy.