A new permanent exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum will show off the diverse San Diego terrains. Courtesy photo

The San Diego Natural History Museum Monday announced that Judy Gradwohl has been selected as the museum’s new president and CEO.

Gradwohl, who comes to San Diego after 30 years with the Smithsonian Institution, will assume the role on July 1, 2016 at the start of the Museum’s new fiscal year.

“TheNAT is a gem—it has superb staff and collections and is the best possible visitor center for the natural world in San Diego County and Baja,” Gradwohl said. “This role is a perfect fit, as it brings together my work in field biology, environmental conservation, digital outreach, education, and museum management at the Smithsonian. It also represents a homecoming of sorts; not only am I returning to southern California, but getting back to natural history where my career began. I am delighted and honored to join such a respected institution.”

Gradwohl replaces Dr. Michael “Mick” Hager, who will retire June 30 after 25 years at the helm of the 142-year-old institution.

Gradwohl has held various leadership positions within the Smithsonian Institution. In 1985, she started at the National Zoo focusing on animal behavioral research, education, and exhibits, and then went on to establish the Smithsonian’s Office of Environmental Awareness where she curated large traveling exhibitions and raised major funding toward operations and projects.

Gradwohl developed the Smithsonian’s first exhibition website, after which she joined the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian’s third largest museum. There, she supervised the development of the museum’s web presence and, in 2004, became part of the senior leadership team, assuming her most recent role as MacMillan Associate Director for Education and Public Engagement.

“Judy cares deeply about scientific research, education, and the environment,” said Virginia Crockett, chair of the search committee and past board chair. “We are delighted that Judy will assume leadership of theNAT and believe her unique combination of leadership ability, curatorial background, and public engagement skills is central the board’s vision of a sustainable future for the Museum.”

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