Secretary David J. Skorton

David SkortonDr. David J. Skorton is the 13th Secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position July 1, 2015. As Secretary, Skorton oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous education and research centers, including the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and Smithsonian Science Education Center.

Under Skorton’s leadership, a new strategic plan has been developed with a focus on convening critical conversations about topics of vital public interest. An example of this was the first-of-its-kind Earth Optimism Summit on Earth Day weekend 2017, which brought together scientists, thought leaders, conservationists, and students to share conservation and sustainability solutions that have worked and can work on a larger scale. The strategic plan also calls for increased outreach and attention to the relevance and impact of the Smithsonian’s activities.

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Second Opinion

With its breadth and depth of expertise in science, the arts, history, technology, and education, the Smithsonian Institution is uniquely poised to be a catalyst for convening a national conversation about the critical issues of the day.

Second Opinion is an Institution-wide partnership to create a digital platform for thought leaders to explore challenges facing the nation and the world at large, from climate change to education to technology to the arts. Our goal is not to advocate but to educate: The more we understand the different opinions that can arise from the same suite of facts, the better we can work together towards a common solution.

I think we can and should take a more prominent role in convening discussions important to people, even when these reveal differences. Exchanging ideas among ourselves and with other experts in open conversations will enrich the exhibitions, research, education, and programs we produce.
— Smithsonian Institution Secretary David J. Skorton, M.D., from his essay "Proud To Be Your Colleague"