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Nance: Kay James Leadership Broke Glass Ceiling for All Conservative Women

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March 22, 2021

Jacklyn Washington

Kay James Leadership Broke Glass Ceiling for All Conservative Women

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, said today,

“With deep respect, I want to thank my dear friend, Kay Coles James, for her historic and able leadership of the Heritage Foundation. Her tenure as president has been marked by steady growth and tenacity in difficult times for our nation.

“As the first African-American and the first woman to lead Heritage, the premier conservative institution in the nation, she has broken a glass ceiling for all conservative women. Her tenure at Heritage will forever change the course of history and increase future opportunities for women in our movement. Concerned Women for America members and particularly our collegiate arm Young Women for America, are so grateful for her thoughtful and courageous leadership.

“Kay James is a civil rights hero, and her personal story should be celebrated. In 1961 at age 12, she was one of the first African-American students integrated into the Richmond, Virginia school system. As a very young woman, she chose to break racial barriers by entering junior high school while people yelled at her. With blood running down her legs from the pinpricks of other students, she walked the halls with her head held high.

“Her inspiring grace and dignity come from her core values and a secure knowledge that she is made in God’s image. She continues to exhibit that same courage, grace, and dignity at every turn.

“As an adult, Kay James served in top leadership positions in the administrations of two presidents and was a Cabinet secretary to the Governor of Virginia. She is a wife and the mother of three children, and the grandmother of five.

“She also founded the Gloucester Institute, which cultivates and supports college-age leaders in the African-American community.

“The woke Left play at working toward diversity while Kay James has actually sacrificed for it. Kay has spent her life caring for those who are overlooked. It would be impossible to fully assess the impact she has made through the many people she has quietly mentored over the years.

“Again, we are thankful for her sacrifice and leadership and look forward to working with her for many years to come.”


Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) is the legislation and advocacy arm of Concerned Women for America. Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 40-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.