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JHSGW Welcomes New Executive Director 0 Comment(s)

Photo of Kara Blond

Kara Blond

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Kara Blond as the Society's new Executive Director, effective September 2017. 

Blond is currently Director of Exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. She will lead the Society's day-to-day operations and the planning, design, construction and programming of the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum in a new building adjacent to the Capitol Crossing Project under construction in downtown Washington. The Museum will incorporate the Society's historic 1876 synagogue, the region's first and oldest purpose-built synagogue building. Planning for the new Museum will continue over the next few years in conjunction with a major capital campaign.

"The Board unanimously approved Kara's selection, and we are all excited to work with Kara to help us realize our vision of preserving the past, marking the present and looking to the future of Jewish Washington," President Russell Smith said. "Kara's successful career with the Smithsonian is going to be an enormous benefit as the Society enters this transformative period. She is the leader we need at this key turning point." 

"I am honored to have been asked to lead the Society and to work with the Board, staff, members, and community to design a new museum from the ground up," Blond stated. "The Society has been serving Washington with exhibitions and programs for decades, but with the new building, program spaces, and exhibitions telling the story of the Washington Jewish community and its impact on the city and the world, the Lillian & Albert Small Jewish Museum will become an attraction for visitors to Washington from around the world."

Blond brings nearly 15 years of experience managing complex, transformational exhibitions as part of significant construction projects at major national institutions. At the National Zoo she served as the exhibition developer and project manager on such visitor favorites as the Asia Trail and Elephant Trails. At the National Museum of Natural History, where she has served as Director of Exhibitions since 2013, Blond has been responsible for overseeing design and development of experiences across 350,000 square feet of public space. At the Smithsonian, she has overseen more than 30 exhibitions, including the redesign of the National Fossil Hall and the broader Deep Time Initiative. Her work has been recognized with both national and Smithsonian-wide awards. 

The Society's historic 1876 synagogue moved to a temporary location in November 2016. It will move again in 2019 to 3rd and F Streets NW, the site of the new museum.

Blond holds a Master of Arts in Education in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude. A native of the Washington, D.C. area with deep roots in its Jewish community, Kara, her husband, Avi Lerner, and their two children live in Kensington, MD.

Blond succeeds Laura Apelbaum, who led the Society for 22 years, from 1994 to 2016, as Executive Director. Wendy Turman, Deputy Director, has been leading the staff and operations of the Society since August 2016 and will continue doing so until Blond begins work on September 5. "We deeply appreciate all that Wendy has done for the organization over the past year and look forward to continuing to work with her," Smith said. 

 The search committee was chaired by Adam Rubinson and included Gail Burlant, Esther Foer, Dr. Michael L. Goldstein, Dr. Peggy Pearlstein, Albert H. Small, Jr., and Smith. For the nationwide search, the Society retained Marilyn Hoffman and Connie Rosemont of Museum Search & Reference, an executive search firm in Manchester, NH and Boston, MA.

For more information please contact Board President Russell Smith at president@jhsgw.org or (202) 303-1116, or Search Committee Chair Adam Rubinson at arubinson@deloitte.com or (202) 491-7005.