President Obama Names Former GOP Congressman Jim Leach to NEH Chair

On June 3, 2009, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate former Republican Congressman Jim Leach as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

In making the announcement, President Obama said, “I am confident that with Jim as its head, the National Endowment for the Humanities will continue on its vital mission of supporting the humanities and giving the American public access to the rich resources of our culture. Jim is a valued and dedicated public servant and I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead.”

Jim Leach served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Iowa for 30 years. He founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus, which is dedicated to advocating on behalf of the humanities in the House of Representatives and to raising the profile of humanities in the United States. The Caucus worked to promote and preserve humanities programs and commissions such as the Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Mr. Leach and his co-founder, Rep. David Price, received the Sidney R. Yates Award for Distinguished Public Service to the Humanities from the National Humanities Alliance in 2005.

During his tenure in Congress, Mr. Leach also served as Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services (1995-2001), a senior member of the House Committee on International Relations and Chairman of the Committee’s Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs (2001-2006).

In addition, Mr. Leach is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Vice Chairman of the Century Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has served on the boards of the Social Sciences Research Council, ProPublica, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Kettering Foundation.

Since leaving Congress in 2007, he has taught at Princeton University and served as the interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Former NEH Chairman Bruce Cole left the Endowment to join the American Revolution Center as its President and CEO in January 2009. In February 2009, President Obama appointed Carole M. Watson, Assistant Chairman for Partnership and National Affairs, as the Acting Chairman of the NEH.

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