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Kay Coles James: A Life of Faithful Leadership in Politics and Policy

US Flag and Virginina Commonwealth flag with Tagliaferri Lecture logo

Event Details

Friday, January 26, 2024 
6:00 PM PST

Wilburn Auditorium 
Pepperdine University
Malibu, CA 


For more information about this event, please email sppevents@pepperdine.edu, or call 310.506.7490

From leading one of the federal government's largest agencies to one of Washington's largest think tanks, Kay Coles James has had a distinguished career in politics and policy over more than four decades. She recently served in the important role as secretary for the State of Virginia in Governor Glenn Youngkin's administration. Through it all, Kay's faith has been a firm foundation for her even during the more difficult times that often present themselves in the political arena. 

In this Augustus and Patricia Tagliaferri Dean's Distinguished Lecture, we'll learn from one of the nation's most respected public servants about the importance of people of faith choosing careers in the public service, and how her faith played a vital role in guiding her through the choppy waters of Washington politics and policy.


Kay Coles James HeadshotSpeaker: Kay Coles James

Former Secretary Kay Coles James has an extensive background in crafting public policy and in leading nearly every sector of America’s economy.  She is currently the president of The Gloucester Institute and works with the Spirit of Virginia as a senior advisor to Governor Glenn Youngkin.

She has worked at the local, state, and federal levels of government under the administrations of former US President George H. W. Bush (served twice between 1989-1993), Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Virginia Governor George Allen (1994-1996), and former US President George W. Bush (2001-2005); and she has also served dozens of organizations in the corporate and nonprofit arenas. In 2001, Mrs. James was appointed as director of the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) by President George W. Bush and led a department of 3,600 employees. As director, she served as the President’s principal advisor in matters of personnel administration for the 1.8 million members of the federal civil service and was responsible for the stewardship of more than $650 billion in federal employees’ assets. 

Secretary James has also worked at senior levels in education and the nonprofit world, as the chief operating officer of a national organization for mentoring programs and the dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University. She is the founder and chairwoman of the Gloucester Institute, which offers leadership training to African-American college students. 

Secretary James is a former board member of PNC Financial Services Group, the National Board of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the Magellan Health Services Board, and Amerigroup Corporation. Mrs. James is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and has done continuing board education at the Harvard School of Business. 

Secretary Kay Coles James is the wife of Charles James, Sr., and the proud mother of three grown children and five grandchildren.