Public Affairs Specialist

PUBLIC AFFAIRS SPECIALIST – Applications due October 19, 2016

The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) is recruiting for a dynamic and creative Public Affairs Specialist to join the team. This is a full-time Trust (non-Federal) position with an initial two-year appointment.

The Lemelson Center ( engages, educates, and empowers the public to participate in technological, economic, and social change. We undertake historical research, develop educational initiatives, create exhibitions, and host public programming to advance new perspectives on invention and innovation and to foster interactions between the public and inventors.

The Public Affairs Specialist performs a range of communications, publications, media, and marketing functions to broaden public awareness, outreach, and support of the Lemelson Center’s mission and programs. The position reports to the Center’s Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation but also works directly with the Center’s Director, Deputy Director, Website Specialist, and other Center and NMAH staff regularly.


  • Leading communications content strategies and promotional efforts for the Lemelson Center, including producing and reviewing social media, website, publications, and other outreach materials;
  • Developing new strategies for increasing the Center’s visibility, especially in areas related to invention, innovation, science, technology, history, and invention education;
  • Planning, coordinating, and marketing Center events, including the annual New Perspectives on Invention and Innovation symposium, the Innovative Lives program series, Spark!Lab programs, and other initiatives as part of the Center’s public programs working group;
  • Developing and writing the Center’s annual Activities Report, annual Holiday Card, and monthly e-newsletter;
  • Working directly on web and social media content, including overseeing and editing the Center’s blog series, writing, reviewing, and editing web content, and posting to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and any new social media formats;
  • Writing and/or reviewing PR materials for the Center’s Spark!Lab, Spark!Lab National Network, and exhibitions, including enforcing Smithsonian branding guidelines;
  • Writing press releases and responding to media inquiries, including coordinating film and image requests in coordination with the NMAH Office of Communications and Marketing;
  • Developing and updating media contacts and Center mailing lists;
  • Writing and compiling materials for Lemelson Center, NMAH, and Smithsonian reports;
  • Representing the Center at NMAH and Smithsonian public affairs-related meetings.


  • Knowledge of communication principles, methods, and techniques to effectively convey information to audiences interested in or affected by the Center’s activities and mission.
  • Skill in developing written communication materials that convey compelling information concerning the significance and value of invention and innovation in areas as diverse as the environment, sports, music, and technology history and education.
  • Skill in presenting information orally in a logical and clear manner to explain programs, projects, or other activities to both internal and external audiences.
  • Skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships on teams and with internal and external stakeholders.

The best qualified applicants will also demonstrate:

  • Initiative and creativity in regards to PR strategies for reaching a range of audiences;
  • Experience with multi-tasking in a team environment; and
  • Ability to be self-directed, proactive, and diplomatic.


Deadline: Midnight Eastern on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 (no exceptions)

 Application materials: Please submit the following materials (combined in one master PDF with applicable links):

  • Cover letter and resume documenting the above criteria;
  • Two (2) examples of relevant web and social media outreach
  • Two (2) writing samples for publications
  • Two (2) examples of other projects that best reflect your work experience; and
  • Contact information only (no reference letters) for three (3) professional and/or academic references.

Email submission instructions: Using the Subject Line “Public Affairs Specialist application,” send an email note with PDF attachment directly to Monica Smith, Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation, Lemelson Center, at No postal submissions will be accepted, and incomplete applications will be rejected.

This is a full-time, two (2) year Trust (non-Federal) Public Affairs position at IS-9-1035, Step 1 (salary of $53,435) plus an excellent benefits package. The position may be extended funds permitting. Smithsonian does not pay job relocation expenses.

The Smithsonian is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Women, minorities, people with disabilities, and candidates of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


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About Monica Smith

Monica Smith is the Head of Exhibitions and Interpretation at the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History (NMAH). Among other duties, she supervises the Public Affairs Specialist and the Web and Digital Media Specialist. Monica served as the Project Director and Principal Investigator for the Lemelson Center's NSF-funded "Places of Invention" exhibition project, which won the 2016 Dibner Award for Excellence in Exhibits from the international Society for the History of Technology. Previously she served as the Project Historian and then the second Project Director/P.I. for the Center's NSF-funded "Invention at Play" traveling exhibition, which won a 2003 Excellence in Exhibitions award from the American Alliance of Museums. Other NMAH exhibition projects include co-curating "From Frying Pan to Flying V: The Rise of the Electric Guitar," which led to her being featured in the Smithsonian Channel's CINE-award-winning film "Electrified: The Guitar Revolution." In addition to her Lemelson Center tenure since 1995, Monica served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Museum Education from 2005 to 2008.