At his swearing-in ceremony on August 3, 2006, President Bush described Jay Hein as “a leading voice for compassionate conservatism.” Hein received a BA from Eureka College, where he was an inaugural member of the Ronald W. Reagan Fellowship program, and earned a master’s degree in political studies at the University of Illinois-Springfield. Hein served as a welfare reform policy assistant to Governor Tommy Thompson in Hein’s home state of Wisconsin. In 1996, Hein joined the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, and worked as executive director of Civil Society Programs. When the Hudson Institute moved from Indianapolis to Washington, D.C. in 2004, Hein, an elder at Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana, stayed in Indiana and founded his own think tank, the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, with a board of trustees that includes the Reverend Herbert H. Lusk II, founder and CEO of People for People, and former U.S. Representative and Senator Dan Coats (R-IN), who introduced Hein to the Bush administration. From 2002 to 2006 he was also chief executive officer of the Foundation for American Renewal, which was founded by Coats.
Hein is an enthusiastic proponent of faith-based funding. In December 2006, he told a conference on government partnerships with religious groups that “the federal government has been fundamentally changed as a result of this initiative.”