Under Secretary for Education

Smithsonian Institution
District of Columbia, United States
$143,051.00 - $285,057.00
Oct 23, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

The Smithsonian is seeking an experienced and recognized leader in the field of education to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Institution’s educational mission that builds external partnerships and solidifies and extends the Smithsonian’s position as one of the world’s leading education providers.


The Smithsonian Institution was established as an independent trust instrumentality of the United States by an Act of Congress in 1846 with a clear mission: the increase and diffusion of knowledge.

The Smithsonian employs approximately 6,500 federal civil service and trust-funded staff members, and during normal operations, is supplemented by over 6,000 volunteers, interns, fellows, and visiting scientists annually. With 19 museums, 8 research facilities, and the National Zoo, the Smithsonian has national and international impact in science, research, history, art, and culture. The Smithsonian receives federal appropriations and government grants as well as awards and gifts from private foundations, corporations, and individuals; revenue is also generated from ancillary activities (e.g., memberships, museum shops, licensing). The Institution’s endowment provides additional support. Certain revenues, such as gifts, grants, and contracts, have restricted uses, including support of research or scientific activities. With the exception of the current pandemic-related closures, the Smithsonian annually hosts 25 million visitors in its public facilities (180 million web visitors) and generates more than $170 million in business revenues. Admission is free for the vast majority of Smithsonian venues, so those revenues flow from business activities, membership programs, and media enterprises.



Education has been at the core of the Smithsonian’s mission since its founding in 1846, and today the Institution is committed to playing a role as one of the foremost education organizations in the country. Smithsonian educators enlighten, inspire and engage people of all ages in the U.S. and across the globe with programs characterized by excellence, breadth, and diversity. Annually, through its museums, outreach programs, research centers, web sites, magazines and TV channel, the Smithsonian provides a multitude of formal and informal educational experiences. It employs more than 300 education professionals assisted by more than 600 volunteers. Over 30 Smithsonian units—
including museums, research centers, and outreach programs--operate education programs that reach out to teachers, students and the general public. Several programs partner with colleges and universities to offer advanced degrees and professional training. Some programs supplement formal education through training, lesson plans or early childhood learning. Many provide informal learning through docent-led museum tours, performances, lectures and online conferences. The pandemic has accelerated the Institution’s efforts to share a richer array of content in more creative ways to reach learners across the country and around the world. In particular, there is a need for an inspired and collaborative approach to ramping up our offerings in the digital space in order to reach new and diverse audiences. And there is a renewed effort to build external partnerships to extend our reach and enrich our content. These approaches will make it possible to take full advantage of the Smithsonian’s vast collections and its large and diverse group of curators, scientists, researchers and scholars in the educational efforts of the future.

The Smithsonian is an experienced provider of educational content, but is determined to focus its efforts, create a formalized assessment and research program, use new technology, and invest as needed to become a national leader. The Institution, through its widely recognized brand, its significant expertise, exhibits and collections is poised to lead efforts to develop effective learning experiences for many audiences, but seeks to prioritize particular audiences such as the crucial K-12 age group.


  • Be part of a compelling mission, and represent a global brand with the potential to reach millions around the world;
  • The opportunity to work with a unique research and educational organization and an
    impressive, diverse group of people, as part of the leadership team;
  • Partake in a high standard of business ethics and true sense of dedication to the Institution’s mission and its clients;
  • Enjoy a dynamic work environment with a respectful and collaborative culture;
  • Experience an energizing and challenging workplace with opportunities that come from dealing with a wide variety of education, outreach, and management issues and interaction with public and private constituencies;
  • Engage in a role for a creative, multi-disciplinary thinker to develop and lead a
    pan-Institutional education strategy; and
  • The opportunity to work with intelligent, interesting, and engaged stakeholders.

The Smithsonian is seeking a nationally recognized leader to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for the Institution’s educational mission that solidifies and extends the Smithsonian’s position as one of the world’s leading education providers. This will involve collaborating with museum and research center directors, as well as other stakeholders, to:

  • design a strategy, integrate and coordinate educators across the Institution;
  • develop a digital strategy for the delivery of educational content;
  • develop a strategy to enable equitable access to resources due to increasing digital divide;
  • evaluate current resources;
  • develop funding strategies;
  • assess where the Smithsonian can make an important and “game changing” difference based on its world class strengths; and
  • create a profile and presence that defines and elevates the Smithsonian’s role within the broader community of education organizations.

The Under Secretary will also be instrumental in developing program assessment methodologies for education programs, which will be a major part of the overall Institution-wide education plan.

The Institution recently restructured and created a handful of new senior positions, to include a Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, as well as four Under Secretaries (Administration, Education, Museums and Culture, and Science and Research). The four Under Secretaries report to the Deputy Secretary and have regular access to the Secretary. There are several other senior officials who report to the Secretary, to include the General Counsel, the Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs and Chief Marketing Officer, the Assistant Secretary for Advancement, and the Director for Equal Employment and Supplier Diversity.

The Under Secretary for Education is a member of the Secretary’s senior leadership team and meets weekly with the three other Under Secretaries as part of the Deputy Secretary’s Under Secretary forum, which discusses and, in some cases, makes decisions on pan-institutional issues. The Under Secretary will be expected to work closely with other leaders across the organization, to include the individual museum and research center directors.

The Secretary is the Chief Executive Officer of the Smithsonian, and reports to the Board of Regents. Congress has vested responsibility for the administration of the Smithsonian in the Board, which has governance responsibilities for the Smithsonian. The Under Secretary for Education will have opportunities to interact with the Board, as well as individual Regents, and the various Smithsonian advisory boards, including the Smithsonian National Board and the advisory boards of the museums, research centers, and education organizations.

The Under Secretary for Education supervises a small and effective staff, as well as several units to include Smithsonian Associates, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, the Smithsonian Science Education Center, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and Affiliations, and the Office of Fellowships and Internships. The position also regularly convenes educators from across the Institution.


The primary responsibilities and challenges for the Under Secretary for Education include the following:

  • Developing and implementing the Smithsonian’s overarching education strategy, integrating the exciting variety of existing education activities already underway across the Institution;
  • Developing and driving a digital strategy in collaboration with other Institutional leaders that makes Smithsonian content and expertise more accessible for learners across the country, with a particular emphasis on the K-12 demographic. This includes incorporating new technology and state-of-the-art programming and techniques for Smithsonian education activities, including evaluating their effectiveness in reaching
    priority audiences and understanding how to utilize physical Museum space to create and disseminate educational programming;
  • Developing a strategy that addresses equitable access to Smithsonian resources to serve those audiences impacted by the digital divide;
  • Creating a coherent, collaborative, and creative pan-Institutional set of education
    goals and supporting activities, defining what “success” in this area means, and
    setting specific, measurable targets that demonstrate that success, combined with a
    strong program assessment strategy;
  • Leading an Institution-wide program with only a small number of direct support staff,
    while collaborating with and promoting collaboration among the much wider
    community of education staff throughout the Smithsonian complex;
  • Working as a partner with education-focused non-profits, Federal agencies and other relevant education organizations on funding and partnership opportunities and generally raising the profile of the Smithsonian as a key asset in solving national education challenges;
  • Representing Smithsonian education in public forums such as national education
    policy groups, institutions, conferences, and associated domestic and international
    outreach activities; and
  • Actively participating in and driving fund raising and revenue generating activities
    related to the Smithsonian’s education activities and programs, including developing business plans to generate revenue through Smithsonian education resources and tools, and garnering private and government support.


The Director of Education at the Smithsonian Institution will have an exceptional education
background and be an experienced and recognized leader in the field.  A Master’s degree or a Ph.D. is desired. Highly qualified candidates would likely have many of the following:

  • Experience leading a multi-disciplinary, complex organization or a significant department/division within a larger entity, as shown by at least 10 years of experience;
  • Entrepreneurial instincts and the pragmatic skills to define, coordinate and lead the pan-Institutional education efforts;
  • A demonstrated track record of excellence in managing and leading others;
  • Comfort with being part of a large, complex organization that requires agility and collaboration skills;
  • A willingness to learn about and effectively navigate federal procedures and regulations;
  • A strong capability to access major funding sources, write successful proposals and build and organizational strategy for assessing the quality and impact of Smithsonian education programs, and ability to oversee and implement the Under Secretary’s budget;
  • Experience creating a comprehensive education program for learners, particularly in the K-12 demographic, that involves innovative design, execution, and assessment/evaluation, particularly in the realm of informal education;
  • Experience shaping educational policies on a local, state, or national level;
  • Knowledge of the relevant current research and assessment frameworks;
  • Ability to leverage a small direct support staff to assist in coordinating and
    collaborating with other education staff throughout the complex on Smithsonian
    education programs and initiatives;
  • Knowledge of digital and virtual tools and techniques, and how to drive their selection, adoption, and implementation in order to accelerate the Smithsonian’s reach in the educational space; and
  • Energy, integrity, initiative, independent judgment, intellectual curiosity,
    and other qualities needed to shape and achieve Smithsonian education goals


To apply, please submit your resume and cover letter to ExecutiveResources@si.edu, noting “Under Secretary for Education” in the subject line by November 20, 2020

The Smithsonian is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages individuals of all backgrounds, cultures, and nationalities to consider this leadership position. The Smithsonian’s commitment to inclusivity encompasses, but is not limited to, diversity in nationality, ethnicity, race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and disability.

For questions contact Greg Bettwy, Chief of Staff to the Secretary at BettwyG@si.edu or (202) 633-6287 or Suleyka Lozins, HR Specialist at LozinsS@si.edu or (202) 633-6334.

This is a Trust (non-Federal) position.  The salary range is $143,051 - $285,057 annually with comprehensive benefit including a fully vested retirement program (TIAA-CREF) with a generous employer contribution.  We also offer a rich program of services and opportunities to balance and enhance your work life.  As a result of these programs, the Smithsonian has been rated one of the top 10 places to work in the government. 

This appointment will be subject to the applicant’s successful completion of a pre-appointment background check and a subsequent background investigation.

For more information, please visit the Smithsonian Institution website at www.si.edu.


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