New Smithsonian Institution secretary to speak in Paradise Valley

The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute Distinguished Speakers Series will present Dr. David J. Skorton, 13th secretary and new chief executive officer of the Smithsonian Institution on Friday, Nov. 20.

Smithsonian Institute

Dr. David J. Skorton

Secretary Skorton will speak at the Montelucia Resort in Paradise Valley during a luncheon and program.

In honor of Secretary Skorton’s visit, Montelucia Executive Chef Michael Cairns will prepare a special menu honoring the legendary Julia Child, whose iconic kitchen is featured at the Smithsonian Institution.

Founded in August 1846 by an act of Congress for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge,” the Smithsonian Institution is comprised of 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoological Park and numerous research centers.

Mr. Skorton is the first physician to serve as secretary and chief executive of the world’s largest museum and research institute in its 169-year history. Mr. Skorton is responsible for an annual budget of $1.3 billion, 6,500 employees and 6,300 volunteers.

Mr. Skorton served as president of Cornell University for nine years prior to leading the Smithsonian. During his tenure, he restored Cornell’s financial stability in the wake of challenging economic cycles and elevated its rankings across key disciplines.

Prior to becoming Cornell’s president, Mr. Skorton was president of the University of Iowa for three years and a faculty member for 26 years.

The O’Connor Institute Distinguished Speakers Series presents national and international luminaries who exemplify exceptional leadership and statesmanship. Past Distinguished Speakers include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the former Soviet Union.

General admission seating is $75 per person for the luncheon and program. Table sponsorships and seats are available online via

For more information about the luncheon, contact the O’Connor Institute, 602-730-3300 or

The Sandra Day O’Connor Institute continues the legacy and lifetime work of Sandra Day O’Connor in solving important social, economic and political problems through constructive dialogue and civic action.

The O’Connor Institute works to build consensus, form collaborations and help craft solutions to vital public issues, in an environment of mutual respect and shared purpose for a better state and nation.

Future plans call for a location that will include a civic center, educational classrooms, collaborative workspace, public forums and debates, library, tours and a permanent exhibit honoring the extraordinary life of Sandra Day O’Connor.

For more information, visit

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