Smithsonian Institution Seeking Director of SITES

November 13th, 2014 - Posted in Uncategorized by Mary Mathias

The Smithsonian Institution is seeking an individual to lead its major outreach program – the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). Founded in 1952, SITES has long established itself as one of the largest, most trusted traveling exhibition services in the world, and serves as the Institution’s main exhibits ambassador beyond Washington, D.C. SITES shares the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people through a wide range of exhibitors – from major museums and universities, to schools, libraries, and rural community centers. SITES collaborates with museums and national organizations with like-minded missions to extend the reach of the Smithsonian.

This is an excellent opportunity for a creative, multi-disciplinary thinker to develop and oversee a pan-Institutional outreach program. The ideal candidate will have experience in fundraising and managing a complex budget, possess core exhibition knowledge and entrepreneurial instincts, be able to build coalitions internally and externally, and have strong project and staff management skills.

SITES is reinvigorating its program and embarking on change. New adapted strategic and business plans are guiding the transition. There remains extensive latitude to further refine the business model in support of the Smithsonian’s mission and strategic plan.

At the Smithsonian, the Director of SITES is considered a peer to the Directors of the national museums, research and education centers, and zoological park. Unlike an independent organization, SITES is part of a unique community of practice: the SITES Director is part of a cohort of leaders of some of the most visited and revered museums in the world, along with major programs devoted to education and access beyond Washington.

This position represents the chance to develop and refine business management and fundraising skill sets in a unique environment with a national, and potentially global reach. In this position, an individual will develop a strategic vision, raise the organization’s profile, and lead organizational change in a museum and research organization – skill sets that translate well to future opportunities.

This is a Trust position with a salary range of $120,749 to $181,500. The Director reports to the Under Secretary for Education and Access and is a member of Smithsonian leadership team. This position is located in the heart of Washington, D.C with an office comprised of approximately 45 FTEs and 10-15 interns/contractors.

The Smithsonian Institution receives approximately 70% of its funding through Congressional appropriations and the remaining 30% comes from Trust funds – revenue generated by the Smithsonian’s business enterprises and non-government funding. SITES operates a combined Federal, Trust, Gift and Grants annual budget of approximately $9 to 10M.

The Smithsonian offers excellent benefit to its Trust employees. Highlighted below are

  • Smithsonian offers a Defined Contribution retirement plan with TIAA-CREF and contributes 12% up to the social security wage base rate of $118,500 for tax year 2015. Once the social security base rate is reached for the specific tax year, then the employer contribution increases to 17% up to maximum salary of $265,000. You are immediately vested in your employer contributions.
  • Smithsonian offers various health insurance plans and pays a portion of the health insurance premiums. Life insurance, long-term disability insurance, voluntary accidental death and dismemberment insurance (VADD) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) are additional insurance options available to employees.
  • The Smithsonian provides Transit Pass Program and Pretax Commuter benefits. The transit subsidy for eligible enrolled participants is $130/month. Under the pretax commuter plan, Smithsonian allows pretax deductions for parking (up to $250/month).
  • There are 10 paid holidays; annual leave is accrued 8 hours per pay period; and sick leave is accrued 4 hours per pay period.
  • The Smithsonian also offers rich programs of services and opportunities to balance and enhance your work life. They include: professional interest groups and committees, employee advocacy groups, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, lectures and events, discounts on museum shops and restaurants. These and other programs have made the Smithsonian one of the top 10 places to work in the government.

Resumes can be submitted directly to Suleyka Lozins at, (202) 633-6334, or Greg Bettwy at, (202) 633-6287.

Ramu Damodaran sparks science centers’ curiosity

October 20th, 2013 - Posted in Uncategorized by Larry Hoffer

“Science informs all the choices we make—what to eat, what time to wake up each day, how we will commute to work—whether we realize it or not.”

With that quote, Ramu Damodaran, deputy director for partnerships and public engagement for the United Nations’ Outreach Division, opened his ASTC 2013 keynote presentation on Sunday, October 20. He explained that in its 70-year history, not only has the UN changed from an organization representing 51 member states at its founding to an organization representing the more than 8 billion people on the planet, but it has also transitioned from one of globalization to one of “peoplization.”

Damodaran suggested that ASTC’s acronym should stand for:


“Everything you [science centers] do sparks curiosity,” he explained. “This curiosity can be taken back by your visitors to change the world around us.”

That curiosity is necessary given the state the world is in. Water being diverted to agriculture is not being used for drinking water. Twelve million hectares of land are being degraded every year (equaling 50 percent of the United Kingdom’s land area). A child who doesn’t get adequate nutrition immediately after birth is likely to be stunted. Every 90 seconds, a woman somewhere in the world dies of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. One-third of children can’t read, write, or do basic arithmetic after seven years in school.

We need scientific, sustainable solutions to these problems. Damodaran pointed to the Toronto Declaration, which emanated from the 2008 Science Centre World Congress, as it established the UN’s Millennium Development Goals as something science centers can work to support, a way science centers can make a difference.

Damodaran encouraged science centers to link to the UN and the people who believe in it. He suggested that they display UN and ASTC stickers on their premises in order to let visitors know they are part of an international community. He also raised the possibility of designating 2019 as the International Year of Science Centers, in order to better translate the work of science centers beyond their communities.

The importance of linking sustainability and science was stressed repeatedly. In fact, Damodaran coined another acronym to reflect this:

Unpredictability and
Understanding of

In closing, Damodaran answered to a question from the audience asking if there is a way to make the facts impact people with strong beliefs. The audience member cited the example of a nine-year-old boy who shook his finger at a science center employee who gave a presentation about dinosaurs, and said: “You’re teaching evil—evil-ution!”)

Damodaran’s response: “You can’t win them all. There is an Indian proverb which says, ‘the only person you can’t wake up is the person who is pretending to be asleep.’”

© Association of Science - Technology Centers Incorporated