News Releases

Judith E. Leonard Named General Counsel of the Smithsonian Institution

March 16, 2009

Judith E. Leonard, the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel since 1998 at The University of Arizona, has been named general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution, effective June 1.

Leonard will report to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough, and she will serve as the principal legal advisor to the Secretary; the Board of Regents, the Smithsonian’s governing body; and other officials on legal matters. The Smithsonian’s general counsel directs and coordinates all legal matters and prepares legal opinions relevant to the operations of the Institution; coordinates Smithsonian litigation with the Department of Justice and represents the Institution in administrative proceedings; and manages the activities of the office, which consists of 17 lawyers and support staff, as well as outside counsel.

As the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at The University of Arizona, Leonard serves as principal legal advisor, directs and coordinates all legal matters, advises on policy and compliance, serves as a member of the university president’s cabinet and the president’s advisory group and supervises nine lawyers and eight support staff. She also spent 10 years in Washington, D.C., at posts in the U.S. Department of Education and in the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President.

“With her impressive record at two major public research universities and in Washington, Judith Leonard brings a wealth of experience to the job of general counsel,” said Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. “The breadth of her skills in dealing with a wide range of legal issues has prepared her well for this position, and I look forward to working with her.”

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to become part of the Smithsonian—an amazing institution filled with talented people with a bright future under the leadership of Secretary Clough and Board Chair Patty Stonesifer,” said Leonard. “It has been a privilege to be part of the leadership of The University of Arizona and my good fortune continues. The commitment of the Smithsonian to the ‘increase and diffusion of knowledge’ is consistent with my passion for and commitment to education.”

In addition to serving as the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel at The University of Arizona, Leonard also is an adjunct associate professor in the College of Education, a position she has held since 2000.          

Leonard served as staff attorney at the U.S. Department of Education from 1991 to1997 and 1980 to 1983. She provided legal advice and representation in connection with the administration of federal education programs and business and management activities of the department, including the review of proposed legislation, development of policy and litigation positions and participation in administrative and civil litigation and assistance with regulation and enforcement.

She also served as assistant attorney general in the office of the Arizona Attorney General (1990-1991) and as associate university counsel at The University of North Carolina (1983-1990).

Leonard is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the Arizona and North Carolina State Bars, the Association of Corporate Counsel, the American Bar Association and the Executive Leadership Group for Legal Counsel of the Association of Academic Health Centers.

Leonard earned her juris doctor degree (1980) and master’s degree in education (1974) from The University of North Carolina and a bachelor’s degree (1972) from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Leonard succeeds John Huerta, who retired as general counsel of the Smithsonian in September 2008. Marsha Shaines, who has been serving as acting general counsel in the interim, will resume her duties as deputy general counsel.

About the Smithsonian Institution
Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,000 Smithsonian employees, including approximately 500 scientists, and more than 6,500 volunteers. Approximately 25 million people from around the world visited the Smithsonian in 2008 with more than 175 million visits to the Smithsonian Web sites. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at 137 million.

The Arizona State Museum at the university, one of the oldest and largest anthropology museums in the Southwest, is an affiliate of the Smithsonian. The Multiple Mirror Telescope on Mount Hopkins is a joint project of the Smithsonian and the University of Arizona.

# # #

SI-123-2009

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

Samia Brennan
(202) 633-5191

Related photos: 

Judith E. Leonard, General Counsel

Judith E. Leonard is general counsel of the Smithsonian Institution. Leonard reports to Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough and serves as the principal legal advisor to the Secretary; the Board of Regents, the Smithsonian’s governing body; and other officials on legal matters.



DCSIMG