With Little Fanfare, New Director to Oversee the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

August 25, 2006

Source: The Washington Post


On August 25, 2006 The Washington Post reported, "The White House announced Jay F. Hein's appointment at 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday three weeks ago, the kind of timing usually reserved for news the administration wants to bury.

Hein is the new director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the third person since 2000 who has headed President Bush's effort to help religious groups win public funding to counsel addicts, mentor prisoners' children and provide other social services. Before he took up his duties this week, the position had been vacant for more than two months.

To some supporters of the president's 'faith-based initiative,' those circumstances are a stark indicator of how low one of Bush's signature programs has fallen in the priorities of his second-term, wartime administration.

'It's part of a continuing story of ambivalence. It's hard to look at the evidence and see any real passion for the initiative from the White House,' said J. David Kuo, a former deputy director of the White House's faith-based office.

Hein, 41, who moved from Indianapolis to Washington last week, is a born-again Christian who previously ran the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, a small but well-respected Indiana think tank on civic issues. He said in an interview that he is convinced of Bush's full support.

'I had 30 minutes of Oval Office time with the president before I accepted the position, and that spoke loudly to me about his personal interest in seeing this initiative made successful and that it remains a high priority on his desk,' Hein said last week. He added that he had met Bush on one prior occasion, at a meeting two years ago of experts on AIDS policy.

Hein was an adviser to former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson (R) and has worked closely in recent years with former senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), who helped connect him to the White House. Both Thompson and Coats were major players in the 1990s effort to overhaul welfare policy."