News Releases

Patty Stonesifer Elected Chair of Smithsonian Board of Regents

September 22, 2008

The Smithsonian Board of Regents today elected Patricia Stonesifer chair of the board, effective January 2009. She will succeed Roger Sant, who has served as chair since January. Stonesifer, senior advisor and former chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been a member of the board since 2001.

Currently, Stonesifer serves on the three-member executive committee of the board. She also is chair of the Regents’ compensation and human resources committee and a member of the governance and nominating committee.

As chair, Stonesifer will serve as the overall leader of the Board of Regents and its executive committee. Among her duties, she will represent the board in dealings with the Smithsonian Secretary and senior management and will work in partnership with the Secretary to carry out policies adopted by the Regents. Together with the chair of the compensation and human resources committee, she will lead the board in its annual evaluation of the Secretary’s performance and compensation. Stonesifer also will serve as the chief spokesperson for the board and will communicate with Congress and other Smithsonian stakeholders on behalf of the Regents.

“The Smithsonian provides unrivaled access to knowledge and culture to anyone who seeks it,” Stonesifer said. “We are at a moment in history where research and innovation have made it easier to preserve and celebrate culture and bring the world closer together.

“I am honored to work with the Regents, Secretary Clough and our partners to strengthen and lead this national treasure at a time of such tremendous opportunity.”

Stonesifer stepped down this month as chief executive officer of the foundation and began her new role as a senior advisor to the foundation’s trustees.

In addition to her responsibilities with the foundation, Stonesifer is an active community volunteer, donating both time and resources to a number of regional nonprofit organizations. Stonesifer is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She was a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on AIDS. She also serves on the boards of The Seattle Foundation, DATA/ONE (Debt AIDS Trade Africa) and Amazon.com.

Before helping Bill and Melinda Gates launch the Gates Learning Foundation in 1997, Stonesifer was a senior vice president at Microsoft.

About the Board
The legislation that created the Smithsonian Institution (approved by Congress Aug. 10, 1846) called for the creation of a Board of Regents to govern and administer the organization. This 17-member board, which meets four times a year, includes the chief justice of the United States and the vice president of the United States, both ex officio members of the board. The chief justice has traditionally been elected chancellor of the Institution by the board.

Other members of the Board of Regents are three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the speaker of the House; three members of the Senate, appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate; and nine citizen members, nominated by the board and approved by the Congress in a joint resolution signed by the president of the United States. Regents who are representatives and senators serve for the durations of their elected terms. Citizen Regents serve a maximum of two six-year terms.

The chief executive officer of the Smithsonian is the Secretary, who is appointed by the Board of Regents. There have been 12 secretaries since the Smithsonian was established. The Secretary serves as secretary to the Board of Regents but is not a voting member of that body.

About the Smithsonian
Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. All except two of the museums are located in Washington metropolitan area: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian are located in New York City. There are 6,000 Smithsonian employees, including approximately 500 scientists, and more than 6,500 volunteers. More than 24 million people from around the world visited the museums and the National Zoo in 2007. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 137 million, including more than 126 million specimens and artifacts at the National Museum of Natural History.

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SI-420-2008

Media Only
Linda St.Thomas
(202) 633-5188

Becky Haberacker
(202) 633-5183



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