WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation announced Thursday that Dr. Victoria Coates will serve as the organization’s next vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, effective Aug. 1.
“I am incredibly grateful Victoria has agreed to serve as Heritage’s next vice president for national security,” Heritage President Dr. Kevin Roberts said. “Her extensive experience, both in Congress and in the executive branch, as well as her expertise on a range of international policy issues make her the perfect leader at Heritage as we continue to chart a new foreign policy approach that puts the American people first.”
Dr. James J. Carafano, a 25-year U.S. Army veteran who joined Heritage in 2003 and served as vice president since 2012, will devote his full attention to building Heritage’s global footprint and an international conservative network that is resilient, powerful, and influential. Carafano will be a senior counselor to the president and remain the E.W. Richardson fellow.
“Jim’s tireless dedication to the conservative movement over the past 20 years puts him in a unique position to articulate our vision for freedom, prosperity, and security to allies and partners around the globe,” Roberts said.
Coates joined Heritage in August 2022 as a senior fellow in international affairs and national security for the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. She quickly made her mark on policy issues spanning the globe, including the threats posed Chinese Communist Party, the Middle East, and global energy security.
“It’s an honor to take on this new role under Kevin Roberts’ exemplary leadership of The Heritage Foundation,” Coates said. “The Davis Institute has a tremendous legacy in conservative national security policy, which we will carry forward to 2024 and beyond. Our mission will be to craft concrete policy recommendations that both keep the American people prosperous and secure here at home and project U.S. power abroad. While our primary focus will be the looming threat from the People’s Republic of China, we will be mindful that we can only meet this challenge if the United States retains its military might, its energy dominance, and gets its fiscal house in order in accordance with Heritage’s core conservative values.”
Prior to Heritage, Coates served in numerous roles in the Trump administration, including as the deputy national security advisor for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council staff, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, and as the senior policy advisor to the U.S. secretary of energy.
Coates also served as the national security advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz and as a distinguished fellow in strategic studies with the American Foreign Policy Council. She received her doctorate in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, master’s degree from Williams College, and bachelor’s degree from Trinity College.
Coates received praise Thursday from policymakers and elected leaders for her approach to national security.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas:
“Victoria Coates is a dear friend and a ferocious defender of American national security. She is a brilliant scholar, and I applaud her new appointment as VP of national security and foreign policy at The Heritage Foundation. Victoria’s strong leadership will help ensure that Heritage remains at the forefront of advocating policies that ensure the safety and prosperity of Americans and protect our interests all over the world.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of the House Select Committee on China:
“The Chinese Communist Party poses an existential threat to our economy and our way of life. Victoria understands the scope of this threat as well as anyone, and as vice president, she will keep the Davis Institute laser-focused on combatting CCP aggression and ensuring it’s the United States—not the CCP—writing the rules of the 21st century. She is an excellent choice for this position and my staff and I look forward to working with her.”
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas:
“Victoria Coates is an outstanding selection as VP of national security and foreign policy for The Heritage Foundation. I have worked with Victoria closely as she has advised a governor, a senator, and the president of the United States on all matters of national security, but in particular, the Middle East. She is a learned scholar, an art historian with a deep appreciation for world affairs, and I look forward to working with her to advance our share goal of a new, stronger path forward for American national security and force projection that is rooted in ‘peace through strength.’”
Former Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie:
“Victoria Coates is the total professional—scholar, author, trusted advisor and conservative visionary. Few people understand America’s place or mission in the world better or the continuum of American-centered statecraft from Jefferson to Reagan.”
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe:
“Heritage could not have made a better decision than appointing Victoria Coates as the new VP of national security and foreign policy. Having served with Victoria in the Trump administration, I know she will excel in leading the new conservative foreign policy movement for today’s challenges.”
Carafano praised Coates as a person of courage, character, experience, and judgment, plus a caring and compassionate leader.
“Victoria will champion a conservative vision of foreign policy at a time when America desperately needs to pursue a third way that’s not reflexively isolationist or globalist but rooted in an honest assessment of American interests,” he said.
Carafano assumed responsibility for Heritage’s defense and foreign policy team in 2012 after serving as deputy director of the Davis Institute as well as director of its Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. He joined Heritage in 2003 as a senior research fellow in homeland security and missile defense.
An accomplished historian and teacher as well as a prolific writer and researcher, Carafano is a graduate of West Point who holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from Georgetown University as well as a master’s degree in strategy from the U.S. Army War College.
“The most important contribution to the conservative movement I can make between now and 2025 is to help build a global footprint for Heritage and strengthen the international conservative network to ensure it is resilient, powerful, and influential. That’s a full-time job, and a challenge I’m excited to embrace,” Carafano said. “Conservatives need to tell the world who we are and our vision for freedom, prosperity, and security and not let others define us.”
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