Director for Strategic Partnerships

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

Marsha L. Semmel joined IMLS in 2003 as director for strategic partnerships; from 2006 to 2011, she also served as deputy director for the Office of Museum Services. She served as the acting director of IMLS from March 2010 through January 2011.

Ms. Semmel oversees and coordinates IMLS partnerships with other federal agencies, foundations, and non-governmental organizations. Ms. Semmel led the agency’s initiative Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills, and has spearheaded a partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that is creating “learning labs” for teens in libraries and museums around the country. She is currently working with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a national consortium of funders and non-governmental organizations addressing early learning challenges, to produce a policy report and other materials that focus on the ways that libraries and museums support the early learning needs within their communities.

From 1998 to 2002, Ms. Semmel was president and CEO of the Women of the West Museum, in Denver, Colorado. Prior to that, she was president and CEO of Conner Prairie, a living-history museum near Indianapolis, Indiana. From 1984 to 1996, she worked at the National Endowment for the Humanities, in Washington, DC, where, from 1993 to 1996, she was director of the Division of Public Programs, which supported humanities projects in museums, libraries, and public media.

She also worked at the Smithsonian Institution; the B’nai B’rith National Jewish Museum, in Washington DC; and The Taft Museum, in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1979, she was a fellow in the Museums Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. She has served on the boards of the American Association of Museums, the Colorado Digitization Program, and ArtTable, a national organization for professional women in leadership positions in the visual arts.