Lisa Sasaki
Under Secretary for Museums and Culture

Lisa Sasaki

Interim Director of Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum

Lisa Sasaki is the interim director of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. The new museum was established by Congress in late 2020 as part of the Smithsonian. A search for a founding director and an advisory board is underway for the new museum. Sasaki was appointed interim director in March 2021, and she has temporarily left her post as director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

In March 2021, Sasaki was appointed interim director of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum. While serving as interim, Sasaki will temporarily leave her post at the center. The new museum was established by Congress in late 2020 as part of the Smithsonian. A search for a founding director and an advisory board is underway for the new museum.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Sasaki was the director of the Audience and Civic Engagement Center at the Oakland Museum of California. She was responsible for the museum’s marketing and communications, public programs, school and teacher programs, community engagement and visitor services departments. Sasaki led the museum’s audience development initiative, which helped double the museum visitation in four years.

Sasaki was the director of program development at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles from 2003 until 2012, where she directed major institutional projects. During her tenure at JANM, she supervised the museum’s curatorial, public programs, web, education and collections departments and managed and led the strategic planning for programs, exhibitions, audience development and fundraising.

Previously, Sasaki was a museum curator at the Southeastern Colorado Heritage Center in Pueblo and the assistant collections manager at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Sasaki earned her bachelor’s degree in history and archaeology from Cornell University and her master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Denver. She currently serves on the advisory council for the Council of Jewish American Museums and is the board president of the Western Museums Association. She was a guest lecturer for the museum studies graduate program at the John F. Kennedy University and has also lectured internationally for ICOM-China and the Museums and Galleries of Queensland.

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SI-86-2021