Billie Jean King and Tory Burch named to board of proposed Women’s History Museum

Aug 20, 2021
In The News

Tennis legend Billie Jean King, fashion designer Tory Burch, actress Lynda Carter and former commerce secretary Penny Pritzker are among the inaugural members of the advisory council of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

The council is charged with advising the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents on the location, planning and design of the proposed museum and with helping the institution raise money from private donors. The Board of Regents announced the council members on Friday.

In December, Congress authorized the Smithsonian to build two museums, one focused on women’s history and the other on the American Latino. They will be the first new Smithsonians since the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened almost five years ago.

Congress gave the Smithsonian six months to assemble advisory boards. The board of the Latino Museum was named last month.

Congress also set a two-year deadline, or to the end of 2022, for the Smithsonian to identify locations for the museums. The Smithsonian has hired the architectural/engineering firm Ayers Saint Gross to conduct site evaluations for both museums.

“As someone who helped bring a museum to life on the National Mall, I know firsthand how indispensable an advisory board is,” Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the African American Museum, said in a statement. “We have been fortunate to enlist an extraordinary group to help envision, create and guide this new museum, enabling the Smithsonian to expand the breadth and vividness of the American story by illuminating the essential contributions women have made to our nation.”

Other members of the advisory council include: Jane Abraham, former chairwoman of the Congressional Commission to Study the Potential of a National Women’s History Museum; Catherine Allgor, president of the Massachusetts Historical Society; attorneys Mary Boies and Singleton McAllister; Jean Case, chairwoman of the National Geographic Society; Melissa Fetter, a former JP Morgan vice president; AARP Chief Diversity Officer Edna Kane-Williams; television and museum executive Abbe Raven; former McKinsey & Co. executive Vivian Riefberg; SiriusXM founder Martine Rothblatt; S. Mona Sinha, founder of the Asian Women’s Leadership University; and Target executive Cara Sylvester. Three seats remain open.

The 25-member board also includes Bunch; Barbara Barrett, a Board of Regents member and former ambassador; Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.); and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.). The appointments of two Senate members are pending.

The Smithsonian appointed Lisa Sasaki as interim director of the Women’s History Museum while it conducts a national search for a founding director. Sasaki has temporarily left her position as director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.