Jimmy Kemp is the President of the Jack Kemp Foundation which he established in 2009.
Mr. Kemp co-founded and is the Managing Partner of Kemp Partners, a strategic consulting firm based in Washington DC. Established in 2002, Kemp Partners provides government relations and corporate affairs services to a diverse clientele. Mr. Kemp has represented Fortune 500 companies as well as burgeoning firms before Congress, the White House and several federal agencies.
He is also Executive Vice President of Group 47, a digital data storage company which is bringing to market a new archival media called DOTS (Digital Optical Technology System). DOTS enables digital files to be stored in easily readable form for over 100 years, even under conditions of benign neglect. Mr. Kemp spent eight seasons as a quarterback in the Canadian Football League, finishing his career in 2001 with the Toronto Argonauts. Mr. Kemp was the founding Board Chairman for Hope Community Charter School, located in northeast Washington DC. The school serves 735 pre-k through grade 8 students and has been operating since September 2005. Mr. Kemp is a graduate of Wake Forest University. He and his wife, Susan, have four boys and reside in Washington DC.
MICHELLE VAN CLEAVE
Michelle Van Cleave is Senior Advisor to the Jack Kemp Foundation and directs the Kemp Legacy Program. A lawyer and national security consultant in private life, she served as head of U.S. counterintelligence under President George W. Bush, and as Director of Senate Security from 2020-2021. Her first job in Washington DC was on Congressman Kemp’s staff, where she was Defense and Foreign Policy Assistant to Chairman Kemp and the House Republican Conference. Subsequently she held other senior staff positions in the Congress (including staff director, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, and Minority Counsel, House Science, Space and Technology Committee), at the Pentagon coordinating homeland defense policy in the aftermath of 9/11, and in the White House Science Office, where she served as Assistant Director and General Counsel under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Ms. Van Cleave sits on the Board of Directors of the Jamestown Foundation and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. She is a member of the bar of the State of California and the District of Columbia. She holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in International Relations from the University of Southern California, and a J.D. from the USC School of Law.
Emma Watkins has run operations for the Jack Kemp Foundation since 2012. In this capacity, she has also served as the primary event manager for the annual Kemp Leadership Award Dinner. Emma graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wheaton College (IL) with a B.A. in Political Science and Geology, where she was selected to be an Advancement Associate, acting as a liaison between the school and its donors. In her spare time, Emma is an avid painter and enjoys teaching geology classes. She lives in Centreville, Virginia with her husband and two young children.
HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION
The Jack Kemp Foundation was originally created to preserve and provide access to Jack Kemp’s extensive collection of writings and correspondence as Congressman, Cabinet Secretary, and Vice Presidential candidate, originally under the custodianship of Pepperdine University.
After his death in May, 2009, however, the Foundation felt compelled to expand its mission. For his family, friends and colleagues, there was obviously a deep personal loss. But just as profound, it became very apparent that a voice and set of clearly thought-out ideas were now missing from the American scene. The Foundation recognized that Jack Kemp’s message and life’s work of articulating and promoting ideas about growth, democracy, freedom and hope needed to continue.
The first order of business was to preserve and advance Jack Kemp’s legacy and its impact on America’s political history and future. The Kemp Legacy Program grew out of a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, augmented by individual donors, and enriched through partnership with the Library of Congress, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs, and the Buffalo Bills. The Kemp Collection, now housed at the Library of Congress, a Kemp Chair also at the Library supporting research on the American Idea, and a wide-ranging oral history of his life and career, are ongoing near-term achievements of the Kemp Legacy Project.
Jack Kemp was also a fierce advocate for the power of ideas, and especially for what he called The American Idea: The Declaration of Independence applies to every individual; everyone should have the same opportunity to rise as high as their talents and efforts can carry them; and while people move ahead, we should endeavor to leave no one behind.
With encouragement from a wide network of friends, supporters, and fellow advocates of the power of ideas, the Foundation established the Kemp Forum. The Kemp Forum provides a platform for the competition of ideas, inviting participants who bring passion, creativity, wisdom and civility to policy debates. Kemp Forum events range from small gatherings to larger conferences and include written contributions published through this website.
WHAT IS THE AMERICAN IDEA?
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
Preamble to the Declaration of Independence
“The American idea,” Jack Kemp believed, “was never that everyone would be leveled to the same position in life. The American idea was that each individual should have the same opportunity to rise as high as his effort and initiative and God-given talent could carry him. If you were born to be a master carpenter, or a mezzo-soprano—or even a pro football player—here in America you could make it…”
At the Jack Kemp Foundation, we believe that the American Idea is both a birthright and an obligation. Like President Lincoln and the Union he led over 150 years ago, citizens of the United States are the providential heirs of a “nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” As with every generation before us, our calling is to find the wisdom to carry forward that great experiment in democracy, that the blessings of liberty might be secured one day for all people, everywhere.
Eighteen speeches by the late Jack Kemp (pro quarterback, Congressman, Cabinet Secretary, and Vice Presidential candidate) on America's leadership in the world, economic growth, freedom, dignity and opportunity, and the competition of ideas; Reflections and Proceedings from the 2014 Kemp Forum on the Future of the American Idea at Lincoln Cottage; and Marist Opinion Poll on Americans' views of the American Idea.