Tri-Caucus Calls for Next Smithsonian Secretary to be a POC
The Secretary of the Smithsonian oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers. They also help guide the future of the organization, including what types of exhibitions it will create and put money behind -- making the Secretary a powerful voice for increased representation as the country continues to grow more diverse. Yet, since its founding in 1846, the 14 Secretaries have all been white men. The Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus -- Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu (D-CA), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass (D-CA), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joaquín Castro (D-TX) -- sent a letter on Friday calling on the Smithsonian Board of Regents to prioritize consideration of a person of color or a woman as the Smithsonian Institution’s next Secretary in order to ensure that the organization’s leadership reflects the diversity of the American people. The members said that the Board’s choice of the next Secretary will send a strong message about the importance of a diverse and inclusive Smithsonian, as well as the Institution’s commitment to reaching audiences that have historically been under-represented. “There is no doubt that there are a wide array of diverse candidates that would represent the Institution well and lead it toward its next phase of greatness, but those candidates must be given an equal opportunity to compete, and the experiences they bring to the role must be taken seriously,” the lawmakers wrote. The Board of Regents is currently considering choices for the next Secretary after Dr. David J. Skorton -- who among other things oversaw the plans to open the Smithsonian’s first Latino gallery space dedicated to celebrating the U.S. Latino experience -- announced he would leave the Smithsonian in June of this year. Read the full letter here.