Dr. David J. Skorton Speaks at Imagine Solutions

The head of the Smithsonian is presenting at the Naples conference in February.

BY January 30, 2018

Dr. David J. Skorton, 68, is one of 20-plus speakers scheduled at the Imagine Solutions Conference on Feb. 26 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples. Tickets cost $650, and nonprofit leaders are eligible for scholarships to bring tickets to $320. Skorton will speak under the heading “Great Institutions.”

“He has a heck of a resume,” says Imagine Solutions CEO Randy Antik, who invited Skorton.

Skorton has been secretary of the Smithsonian since July 2015. A cardiologist, he is the first physician to lead the Smithsonian and the 13th secretary. He is responsible for an annual $1.3 billion budget, 6,500 employees and nearly 15,000 volunteers. Skorton was key in opening the National Museum of African American History and Culture, exceeding its national campaign goal of $1.5 billion and advancing educational efforts. He and his team have focused on convening conversations around critical issues. Museums offer a depoliticized space for dialogue, he says. 

Related: Getting the Most Out of a Museum Visit

“I do focus, wherever I go these days, on the importance of culture and art and the importance of safe places to learn.”

“Americans have lost their trust in a lot of institutions,” he continues, “but Americans still tend to trust museums and libraries as honest brokers of information, and it’s very important to fulfill that.”

Previously, Skorton was president of the University of Iowa and Cornell University. He earned both his bachelor’s in psychology and his medical degree from Northwestern University. He is married to Robin L. Davisson, the Andrew Dickson White Professor of Molecular Physiology at Cornell University. Skorton also plays the flute and saxophone and worked as a musician in the Chicago area.

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