Charmaine Yoest

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.

Former Visiting Fellow, Institute for Economic Freedom

Dr. Charmaine Yoest was a visiting fellow for The Heritage Foundation's Institute for Economic Freedom.

This expert is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest was a visiting fellow for The Heritage Foundation's Institute for Economic Freedom. She was previously a vice president of The Heritage Foundation, where she led the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity. This included work on domestic policy issues including health care and welfare reform, education policy, family formation, women’s issues, and religious liberty. 

Dr. Yoest previously served in the Trump Administration in the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. She served as associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) where she directed the component’s intergovernmental, public affairs, and public liaison programs. Charmaine also served as the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she provided leadership for the $1.3 trillion Department’s public affairs programs, and coordination of strategic messaging across the 11 HHS Operating Divisions. Her work involved a focus on the opioid crisis, natural disaster response, and health care reform. 

Dr. Yoest has a track record serving in many facets of political life—in the White House, on a presidential campaign, and leading a national nonprofit. She has appeared as a spokesperson on every major television network and cable outlet, and has been published in the leading national publications. She has provided testimony in front of the United States Congress on multiple occasions. She is also the author of M other in the Middle (HarperCollins), an examination of child care policy. 

Dr. Yoest began her career working in the White House for President Ronald Reagan in Presidential Personnel and later served as a Senior Advisor to Governor Huckabee’s 2008 Presidential Campaign. She was a surrogate for the Trump-Pence 2016 campaign. She also served as President and CEO of Americans United for Life. During her tenure, the public interest law firm grew significantly, more than tripling its budget and donors. 

Numerous publications have profiled Charmaine and her work. In a feature piece, The New York Times said that “her personal appeal gives her outsize visibility.”The Christian Science Monitor describes her as “a pragmatic force.”The New Republic describes her as “compelling.” Even Mother Jones described her as “charismatic.” She was featured inTime magazine’s 2013 Thanksgiving series along with Michelle Obama and Rick Warren. 

Dr. Yoest received her B.A. in Political Science from Wheaton College. Later, she earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia, where 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. 

Charmaine and her husband are the parents of five children. Their oldest three children have been Division One athletes and include an NCAA champion, four-time ACC champion and a CAA champion. Their son is an Army Officer and Blackhawk Pilot.