Heritage Foundation names its first African American president

The Heritage Foundation has named Kay Cole James its next president. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

The Heritage Foundation has named Kay Cole James its next president.

James, who served as the director for the United States Office of Personnel Management under former President George W. Bush, is the conservative think tank's first-ever African American head.

In her first interview since accepting the position, James shared with Armstrong Williams the significance of her selection and what she looks to bring to the position.

As a woman and a minority, her appointment is "significant," Williams said.

"My mother didn't allow us to feel as victims," James responded. "As African Americans, we were survivors."

"I have never had a victim mentality, either as an African American or as a woman."

It's this assertiveness that James hopes to bring to the foundation as it pushes forward. After a long tenure as a trustee, she's looking to drive Heritage places "where it's never been before."

She's served on its board for "close to 12" years, she said, an experience she calls "an absolute pleasure." Being named president is "like a Cinderella story," James said.

Now, James wants to make an appeal to audiences not familiar with the foundation, while still maintaining the conservative values it was built on.

"I am fond of saying that Heritage is a masterpiece and a work in progress all at the same time," she continued. "It can't get any better than what we are ... But what I think we can do better is to take that data, take that research, take that information and take it to demographics where it's never been before.

"I want to make sure that the good news that we have gets into minority communities, gets into the youth culture in our country. My goal is to help a Bernie Sanders voter understand why conservative policy works best for people."

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