Jay Heiler

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Jay Heiler
Board of Regents
Personal details
James Jay Heiler

(1960-06-11) June 11, 1960 (age 60)
Sandusky, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
ResidencePhoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Alma materArizona State University
ProfessionEducation, Businessman, Public Affairs

Jay Helier is an American lawyer, political analyst, journalist, and businessman. Heiler currently serves as Treasurer of the Board of the Arizona Board of Regents and is a member of the Business and Finance Committee, Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Regents Executive Committee. Heiler is also the co-founder and Board Chairman of Great Hearts Academies, a charter school network operating several K-12 campuses in Arizona and Texas. He also leads as the President of the Arizona Charter School Association.


Heiler grew up in Clermont County, Ohio, on the outskirts of Cincinnati. He graduated from Arizona State University in 1983. While at ASU, he was a Pulliam Scholar, and editor-in-chief of The State Press, the campus daily newspaper.[1] According to the Phoenix New Times, Heiler, along with future George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully, "was one in a series of students who took over the paper and used its editorial pages to push their conservative bent-attacking liberal professors, homosexuals and others."[2]

He then went to law school at ASU, graduating in 1986, and worked in the Arizona Attorney General's office from 1986 to 1989.[2]

In 1989, Heiler moved to Virginia to become editorial page editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.[1]

In 1992, Heiler returned to Arizona to work for then-governor Fife Symington, eventually becoming his chief of staff.[1]

When Symington resigned in 1997 after being convicted of bank fraud, Heiler became a political and public-affairs consultant.[3]

Great Hearts Academies[edit]

Helier co-founded Great Hearts Academies in 2004. Great Hearts is a K-12 charter school that operates 28 campuses across Arizona and Texas.[4] Great Hearts began with a single school in 2004 but has grown steadily. Great Hearts' curriculum is based on the Great Books of the Western World and promotes that its students receive a diverse liberal arts education. In 2016, Great Hearts announced plans to add to its charter school network and will build a new $17 million campus in north Phoenix.[5] In 2017, Great Hearts was awarded a $20 million in bond funding to support ongoing campus development.[6]

Appointment to Arizona Board of Regents[edit]

In 2011, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer announced the appointment of Heiler to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) citing his leadership and creativity as a co-founder of Great Hearts Academies.[7] Heiler's term began in 2012 and expires in 2020.

2018 Arizona Senate race[edit]

In October 2017, Heiler said he was considering running in the Arizona Republican primary for U.S. Senate against incumbent Jeff Flake after Flake's criticism of President Donald Trump. "'The president’s agenda is one which I wholeheartedly endorse,' Mr. Heiler said. 'I have not seen the president advance anything which I don’t think is in the best interest of the country.'"[8][9]


Statements on Homosexuals[edit]

In 2012 during Heiler's confirmation to the Arizona Board of Regents, Democrats were troubled by homophobic statements Heiler had made in the past.[10] In an editorial for The State Press at ASU, Heiler wrote:

It is my impression that by `coming out of the closet,' as their emergence has come to be called, homosexuals hope to make the rest of us less uncomfortable about their aberration-and despite one's feelings about it, it is most definitely an aberration.[2]

Supportive Republicans noted the comments were made many years ago and Heiler ought to be judged by his current position on gays. Heiler said that his position has changed and that all Arizonans "ought to live in harmony together."[10]

Statements on Immigrants[edit]

During his time at The State Press at ASU, Heiler wrote editorials critical of immigrants to the United States maintaining their native language and cultures:

The immigrants come here to start a new life, then try to cling to their own language and customs. This tendency leads to all sorts of societal problems, ranging from interracial unrest to unexplained disappearances of dogs. The former difficulty crops up wherever aliens are to be found; the latter arose in California when the Vietnamese arrived.[2]

Heiler has since stated that he has arrived at a "different set of policy judgements" with respect to "Dreamers.[11]" Heiler was a signatory to a letter to President Trump in December 2016[12] urging him to support DACA students. However, as a voting member of the Arizona Board of Regents, Heiler cast the only dissenting vote against providing in-state tuition for students protected under DACA.[13]

Biological Sex and Gender Student Policy at Great Hearts Academies[edit]

As Board Chairman for Great Hearts Academies, a large charter school network based in Phoenix, Arizona, Heiler was part of the team that oversaw the passage of the "Biological Sex and Gender Policy" across all 25 Great Hearts campuses in Arizona and Texas affecting more than 10,000 students. The policy, which defines a person's gender identity by their biological sex, is seen by local LGBT organizations as targeting and discriminating against transgender students at all Great Hearts schools.[14][15][16][17][18]


  1. ^ a b c "Jay Heiler Arizona Board of Regents". www.azregents.edu. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  2. ^ a b c d Pasztor, David (1992-06-03). "FIFE'S NEW OPERATIVETHE GOVERNOR'S HIRE OF EX-ASU FLAME THROWER JAY HEILER SENDS CHILLS THROUGH LIBERALS". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  3. ^ Beverly Stidham (2011-10-13). "Jay Heiler appointed to AZ Board of Regents". Ahwatukee Foothills News. Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  4. ^ "Great Hearts Academies". Great Hearts Academies. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  5. ^ Angela Gonzales (Oct 24, 2016). "Great Hearts Academies to build $17M school in north Phoenix". Phoenix Business Journal.
  6. ^ "$20M to help fund new Great Hearts charter school". azcentral. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  7. ^ "Insider: Lobbyist OK'd as regent". azcentral.com. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  8. ^ "For Republican Leaders in Congress, the Headaches Keep Mounting". Pure Daily News. 2017-10-05. Archived from the original on 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  9. ^ Cohen, Roger (2017-10-20). "OP-ED COLUMNIST: Trump's Road to 2024". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  10. ^ a b Davenport, Paul. "Board of Regents appointee's remarks on gays stir controversy in Senate – Arizona Capitol Times". azcapitoltimes.com. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  11. ^ Puerto, Luige del. "Double lives: Dreamers exemplify struggle to find answers to illegal immigration – Arizona Capitol Times". azcapitoltimes.com. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  12. ^ https://www.azregents.edu/sites/default/files/public/Letter%20to%20President%20Elect%20Trump.pdf
  13. ^ Fischer, Howard. "Regents keep in-state tuition rate for 'dreamers' despite court ruling". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  14. ^ "Great Hearts Transgender Policy". Great Hearts Transgender Policy. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  15. ^ "Transgender Student Says Arizona Great Hearts Academies' Policy Is Discriminatory". KJZZ. 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  16. ^ "ACLU of Arizona Urges Scottsdale to Refuse Park Partnership with Great Hearts Academies". ACLU of Arizona. 2017-04-19. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  17. ^ "Scottsdale Councilwoman: Great Hearts Must Change Transgender Policy To Partner With City". KJZZ. 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  18. ^ "Parents, alumni protest Great Hearts Academies' transgender policy". azcentral. Retrieved 2017-10-12.