RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced the resignation of Secretary of the Commonwealth Kay Coles James and the selection of the Commonwealth’s next Secretary of the Commonwealth, Kelly Gee.
“Secretary James is a leader, a trailblazer, and a dedicated public servant to our Commonwealth and our nation. I thank Kay for her service to Virginians and for her expertise as we made impactful change. Together, she helped us deliver on our promises to change the trajectory of the Commonwealth. I am grateful for her immense contributions and proud to call her a friend,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “We’re pleased Kelly Gee will be serving our administration as the new Secretary of the Commonwealth. Her valuable expertise, years of public service, and commitment to serve Virginians will make her an excellent Secretary.”
“What a pleasure it has been serving the citizens of the Commonwealth and our incredible Governor. We have worked together in the cabinet to deliver on the Governor’s promise of making Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to my new role and the opportunity to continue public service in the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Kay Coles James.
Secretary James will continue her service to students in Virginia as a member of the board at James Madison University.
“I am thrilled to move into a new role within the Youngkin administration as Secretary of the Commonwealth,” said Kelly Gee. “After a decade of public service, I look forward to serving the Commonwealth in this new capacity by assisting Virginians on behalf of the Governor. Secretary James has served Virginians incredibly well, and I look forward to building on her progress.”
The Honorable Kay Coles James was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, and raised in her early years in Richmond’s housing projects by a single mother in the segregated South. Secretary James was one of the first children to take part in a historic experiment to desegregate Virginia’s all-white schools and later graduated from Hampton University. She served as the President of the Heritage Foundation, a prominent think tank in Washington, D.C.
Her career in public service began on the school board of Fairfax County, Virginia, and continued to the Virginia Board of Education. She served as associate director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the George H.W. Bush administration. Under President George W. Bush, she served as the director of the Office of Personnel Management. Kay also served as Secretary of Health under George Allen where she developed Virginia’s landmark welfare reform. Secretary James also served as dean of the Robertson School of Government at Regent University. She is the founder of the Gloucester Institute, which offers leadership training to African-American college students, and served as the Co-Chair of Governor-Elect Youngkin’s Transition.
In June 2022, Kelly Gee was appointed by Governor Glenn Youngkin to serve as executive director of the Virginia Lottery. Ms. Gee has spent the last decade in public service, including eight years as a senior staff member to General Assembly leadership, culminating in her role as deputy chief of staff to the 55th Speaker of the House. When she joined the Lottery in 2018, Ms. Gee served on the Lottery’s leadership team as the manager of government relations. She was responsible for managing the strategy and execution of legislative outreach efforts and played an active role in policy creation and implementation. She holds an undergraduate degree in Government from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Virginia Tech.