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Kay Coles James to visit W&M on March 25

  • Celebrating 100 years of women:
    Celebrating 100 years of women:  Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James will speak with Professor Christine Nemacheck in a featured event of W&M's commemoration of 100 years of coeducation.  Photo courtesy Heritage Foundation
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Event is free and open to the public

Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, will visit William & Mary on March 25 for an event that is free and open to the public. James’ appearance is a spotlight event in the university’s celebration of 100 years of coeducation.

The conversation with James, scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Raymond A. Mason School of Business’ Brinkley Commons, will be moderated by Christine Nemachek, associate professor of government and director of W&M’s Center for the Liberal Arts.

“Mrs. James is one of the most influential women in the country,” said Jayne Barnard, W&M 100th Anniversary Committee co-chair and James Cutler Professor of Law, emerita. “The Heritage Foundation has been a key player in judicial appointments, regulatory reform, defense policy, tax reform and more.  Mrs. James does not sit on the sidelines.”

James has served as president of Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., since 2018. She has been a trustee with the organization for more than a decade. She is also chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

James’ background includes leadership and formulating public policy. She has worked at local, state and federal levels under the administrations of former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and former Virginia Gov. George Allen, as well as serving dozens of corporate and nonprofit organizations. She is particularly passionate about serving America’s youth and promoting education.

James was associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush.

She was later appointed Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources, where she designed and implemented the Commonwealth’s welfare reform initiatives and influenced housing policies for young, elderly and low-income Virginians.

In 2001, James was appointed by President George W. Bush to director of the Office of Personnel Management, where she designed the process through which nearly 170,000 employees from 22 agencies formed the Department of Homeland Security. She also chaired the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, was a member of the President’s Management Council and was appointed to serve on the White House Fellows Commission.

James served as dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University from 1996 to 1999 as well as on the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors from 2010 to 2014. There, she chaired the Academic and Health Affairs Committee at a time when the Board of Visitors and VCU president were transforming the school into a leading research institution. James also crafted education policy during her time on the Virginia State Board of Education and the Fairfax County School Board.

James is founder of the Gloucester Institute, which trains and nurtures college-age leaders in the African-American community. She has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, Virginia Empowerment Commission, National Commission on Children, Medicaid Commission, Carter-Baker Commission on Election Reform, NASA Advisory Council, National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and the boards of Focus on the Family and Young Life.

A graduate of Hampton University, James’ honorary degrees and awards include a doctor of laws from Pepperdine, UVA’s Publius Award for Public Service and the Spirit of Democracy Award for Public Policy Leadership from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

James is the author of three books: Never Forget (1993), Transforming America from the Inside Out (1995) and What I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married (2001).