Lonnie Bunch, the Smithsonian’s first black leader, on the challenge of making it ‘a place that matters’

The Washington Post, August 30, 2019

“He has a reputation as an affable storyteller and a leader with the smarts of a professor and the demeanor of your next door neighbor. So there was little doubt that Lonnie Bunch III would be a new kind of leader for the Smithsonian Institution.

But would he be open to questions? Even this early in his tenure?

Just two months after his historic appointment as the 14th and first African American secretary to lead the 173-year-old institution, Bunch sat down for a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post. He showed a willingness to discuss tough subjects, including the challenges of making the Smithsonian “a place that matters.”

Bunch has been candid and outspoken, both in his forthcoming memoir and in one of his first interviews as secretary. In his new office in the Smithsonian’s historic administration building — where photos of his wife, two daughters and extended family are displayed alongside an autographed electric guitar (a gift from fellow New Jerseyan Jon Bon Jovi) and a poster of actor and activist Paul Robeson — Bunch offered a peek into his new job, tackling big issues and small with his trademark blend of humor and humility.”

More here.