Glenn Youngkin’s choice of transition co-chair signals conservative Virginia governorship

In published and claiming that: Outgoing Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James says Youngkin tapped people who ‘share his vision’

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced the leadership of his transition team on Wednesday, signaling a conservative governing style to fit his campaign rhetoric.

Youngkin tapped outgoing Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James to serve as co-chairman of his transition team, along with state Sen. Steve Newman. James, a lifelong Virginia resident, has led Heritage since 2018, and she announced back in March that she would step down later this year. James led Heritage, which bills itself as the nation’s premier conservative think-tank, through the tumultuous years of President Trump, championing conservative principles.

“In order to change the trajectory of our great commonwealth, we must hit the ground running on Day One,” Youngkin said in a statement announcing James’ appointment. “This incredible and diverse transition team consists of talented individuals from throughout the commonwealth with a mix of seasoned and fresh perspectives that will allow that transformation—where Virginia soars and never settles.”

Before she took the helm at Heritage, James served in a number of policy and public service roles in Virginia, most notably as secretary of health and human resources for Gov. George Allen and as a member of the Virginia State Board of Education, the Virginia Commonwealth University board of visitors, and the Fairfax School Board.

At Heritage, James championed school choice and condemned critical race theory, two issues that Youngkin ran on. Youngkin emphasized parental rights in education, ran on relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, funding law enforcement, securing right to work laws, and other conservative issues. 

“Serving as co-chairman of the transition team is an honor, and one that allows me to help our governor-elect realize his truly outstanding vision for Virginia,” James said in a statement Wednesday. Youngkin “campaigned on issues critical to Virginians and offered real, workable solutions to those issues,” she wrote. “Now, in order to make those solutions a reality, he needs people throughout his administration who share his vision, who are just as passionate about making them a reality as he is. I’m ready to help identify those people and get this administration staffed up so they can get to work implementing those solutions on day one.”

Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, will also serve on the transition team, focusing on education and helping to outline an agenda to ensure K-12 schools are accountable to families.

“I am honored to serve on the transition team and look forward to advancing policies that make Virginia’s education system responsive and accountable to parents, putting them in charge,” Burke said. “It’s not the education bureaucracy but parents and students who should be in the driver’s seat.”


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