Heritage Foundation exec tapped as Va. diversity officer
Angela Sailor also served in Bush White House
Gov. Glenn Youngkin rounded out his Cabinet picks Wednesday by announcing Angela Sailor as his choice for the state’s chief diversity, opportunity and inclusion officer, a change in title from the Northam administration’s post.
Sailor is currently vice president of the Feulner Institute at the Heritage Foundation and chief of staff to the conservative research institute’s president, Kay Coles James. She also is a member of the U.S. State Department’s Senior Foreign Service Selection Board and has spent most of her career in the federal government, including serving in the White House Office of Public Liaison during President George W. Bush’s administration. Her focus was primarily on domestic policy impacting senior citizens and Black Americans, including education, housing, health care, small business and faith-based initiatives.
In an executive order, Youngkin changed the title of the cabinet post from chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer — held by Janice Underwood from 2019 until Jan. 14 — and replaced “equity” with “opportunity.” The position will now have a “stronger and more focused role on promoting ideas, policies and economic opportunities for disadvantaged Virginians, including Virginians living with disabilities and bringing Virginians of different faiths together.”
Sailor also served as deputy chief of staff to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige during Bush’s first term, from 2001 to 2005, when she led No Child Left Behind and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) initiatives, among other duties. She has worked for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, advised the Republican National Committee on budget and constituent services, and was director of African American affairs for Bush’s 2000 campaign. A graduate of Central State University, Sailor also holds law and master’s degrees from the University of Memphis and American University.
The Heritage Foundation established the Feulner Institute in 2019 to “reinvigorate civic culture and our national purpose,” with a focus on the nation’s founders’ values and principles, according to an announcement by James, who named Sailor as its first vice president.
The state’s DEI officer post was created in 2019 by Gov. Ralph Northam, following the blackface scandal in February of that year, and in 2020, the General Assembly passed a bill making the post a permanent Cabinet-level position, which Northam signed into law. Virginia is the nation’s first state to create a DEI post in the governor’s Cabinet.