Heritage Foundation leaders announce resignation from conservative think tank

Kay James, the first woman and Black to lead Heritage, is stepping down

The two top leaders at one of the oldest and most influential think tanks in the conservative movement are stepping down.

The Heritage Foundation announced on Monday that President Kay C. James and Executive Vice President Kim R. Holes are resigning.


The foundation said that James will stay on as president for up to six months, until a successor is found. Heritage noted that James will also remain on the foundation's board of trustees – where she has served since 2005 – and become a distinguished visiting fellow. Holmes' resignation is effective as a April 16.

James took over at Heritage at the beginning of 2018, around eight months after then-Heritage president and former Sen. Jim DeMint was ousted. James became the first woman and first Black person to lead the organization. Prior to her Heritage tenure, James served as director of the Office of Personnel Management in the George W. Bush administration. She also served as Virginia's secretary of health and dean of the school of government at Regent University.

"When we came on board as the executive leadership team three years ago, we set several goals and told Heritage’s board of trustees that we would serve for three to five years to see them through," James said in a statement. "We accomplished everything we set out to do. Now it's time to let someone else take the reins."


"I am proud of the many things we have accomplished together, including reaching out to new, nontraditional audiences of women, minorities, and young people and showing them how conservative solutions provide the best outcomes for all Americans," James emphasized.

In a separate move, former Vice President Mike Pence last month joined the Heritage Foundation as a distinguished visiting fellow.