LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Kay Coles James, president of The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. and founder and chairman of The Gloucester Institute in Gloucester, Va., has been named the recipient of the prestigious 2021 William L. Armstrong Award for Visionary Leadership in Service to the American Idea by the Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s (CCU) public policy think tank, in partnership with the family of former U.S. Senator William L. Armstrong. The award was presented to Mrs. James by Wil and Kristy Armstrong.
The award is given in honor of the late Colorado senator, William L. Armstrong, who served as president of Colorado Christian University from 2006-2016. Honorees exemplify Armstrong’s commitment to faith, family and freedom. Normally, the award is given at a closing dinner at the Western Conservative Summit, the largest annual gathering of conservatives in the Western United States. Because of continued COVID-19-related meeting restrictions, the award will be presented at a primarily virtual summit scheduled for Friday, June 18 through Saturday, June 19, which will link thousands of conservatives across the country with prominent keynote speakers.
“The image that I have in my mind today of [William L. Armstrong] is of a man who believed in prayer, who stood courageously for the things that mattered to me, was an example of the tenacity that’s required in order to get things accomplished, but also with a spirit that crossed aisles and ideology,” said Kay Coles James. “I really wanted to model my spirit after his. So for someone that I held in that high esteem, to be recognized by his foundation means the world to me.”
James has held numerous leadership positions in local, state and federal government, higher education and the corporate and nonprofit sectors and her contributions are immense. She has also authored several books, including “Never Forget: The Riveting Story of One Woman’s Journey from Public Housing to the Corridors of Power,” “Transforming America From the Inside Out” and “What I Wish I’d Known Before I Got Married: Keepin’ It Real.”
“Kay Coles James, and her lifetime of work in support of America’s founding constitutional principles, truly defines the American Dream,” said Wil Armstrong, son of the late senator. “Rising from the poverty of government housing projects to become president of America’s most important and influential think tank is an almost unparalleled achievement today. But Kay has gone far beyond that and built The Gloucester Institute to share that experience and those values with new generations of top-notch American leaders. They learn from her example, as we all do.”
The award was presented to James at The Gloucester Institute headquarters as part of a special film to be presented during the summit. The film also features a section on the “life and legacy” of Sen. Armstrong, as well as comments from James filmed at The Gloucester Institute.
“At CCU, we are committed to restoring Judeo-Christian values to America and putting the higher back in higher education,” said Dr. Donald W. Sweeting, president of Colorado Christian University. “Kay Coles James has achieved these goals through her exceptional leadership at the Heritage Foundation and at The Gloucester Institute and through her tireless work for freedom and justice for all. We are proud to honor her achievements.”
Past recipients of the award, given annually since 2016, include conservative talk show host Dennis Prager, Focus on the Family and “Family Talk” founder Dr. James Dobson, former Attorney General and Counselor to President Ronald Reagan Edward Meese III, legal scholar and professor Robert George and Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and chairman of the Museum of the Bible.
“We often refer to the Centennial Institute as Colorado’s version of the Heritage Foundation. This award is fitting to a woman with a lifetime of achievement advancing conservative values. She has made America better and we are honored to present her with the William L. Armstrong Award,” said Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute and co-chairman of the Western Conservative Summit.
James will be honored at the Centennial Institute’s Western Conservative Summit on Friday, June 18.
More information on the Centennial Institute is available here.