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A new leader at the Smithsonian

September 23, 2008|From the Associated Press

The Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents on Monday elected former Microsoft executive Patty Stonesifer as chairwoman of the board overseeing the world's largest museum and research complex.

Stonesifer recently stepped down as chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest charitable foundation, and has served on the Smithsonian board since 2001. She will replace Washington businessman Roger Sant in January to lead the 17-member board.

Stonesifer will lead the board, which includes six members of Congress, the vice president and the Supreme Court chief justice, in supporting the fundraising effort and improving its governance after the last Smithsonian chief executive resigned amid questions of his compensation and spending.

The board chairman position was created during a series of reforms after the regents were faulted for lax oversight of former Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small. Stonesifer led the board's governance committee, guiding the reform effort, and has served unofficially as vice chairwoman of the board since January, said Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas.

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