Karen Keller
Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs

Karen Keller

Director, Special Events and Protocol

Karen Keller is the director of Special Events and Protocol at the Smithsonian Institution. She oversees the office that is responsible for planning, programming and managing the Institution’s major special events, including museum and exhibition openings, fundraising galas, dignitary and head-of-state visits, board meetings, conferences and symposia. The office is also responsible for preparing briefing materials and advancing the Secretary for all events, as well as advising on all matters of protocol.

Before joining the Smithsonian in 2011, Keller was the director of Programs and Events for Meridian International Center. She was responsible for the development, coordination and implementation of external programs and events.

Keller has more than 25 years of experience in the private and public sectors.  Her experience includes serving as special assistant to the President of the United States at the White House where she directed Oval Office Operations. Before her time at the White House, she was the director of administration for the 55th Presidential Inaugural Committee and before that was the deputy to the CEO on the Republican National Convention in New York. She began her work in the federal government as special assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Her private sector experience includes 10 years with Burson-Marsteller in Washington, D.C., and New York, where she produced high-profile, global events. She is a native Washingtonian and received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Towson University.

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