Natural Science Collections Alliance

Our members are part of an international community of museums, botanical gardens, herbariums, universities and other institutions that house natural science collections and utilize them in research, exhibitions, academic and informal science education, and outreach activities.

Statement from IMLS Director Susan Hildreth on Agency Reorganization

12 August 2011

This is an important time in the development of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. During my term at IMLS we will be implementing the reauthorization of the Museum and Library Services Act, developing a new five year strategic plan with emphasis on performance, and responding to and planning for reduced budgets.

In order to assure that we are able to achieve the many tasks ahead, I have reorganized our leadership team to draw on the core strengths of our current staff, to add capacity where I believe it is required and to align with the priorities of the Museum and Library Services Act.

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Claudia French as IMLS Deputy Director for Museum Services. Ms. French has most recently served as Director of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. Marsha Semmel, who has been both Deputy Director for Museum Services and Director of Strategic Partnerships will continue to serve in her critical role as Director of Strategic Partnerships.

Claudia French brings strengths in museum development and administration as well as deep experience in the foundation and non-profit worlds. For the last five years, she has successfully reinvigorated the exhibitions, programs and visibility of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts. Originally organized as a state history museum located in Sacramento, under her leadership and with the vision of First Lady Maria Shriver, the museum has been transformed into a state-of-the-art venue hosting nationally and internationally known exhibitions.

Ms. French has served as the executive director and development director of The Gill Family Foundation in Denver, the AIDS Action Foundation in Washington, DC, as well as working in both the Baltimore Goodwill Industries and the Girl Scouts Council of the Chesapeake Bay. She has an extensive background in grants administration and program development.

Since 2006, Ms. Semmel has been serving in both the position of Deputy Director for Museums and the position of Director of Strategic Partnerships. She also held a third position when she ably led the agency as Acting Director in 2010. Ms. Semmel has immense talents and experience and has made outstanding contributions to IMLS. She is a natural collaborator. She was hired as the first-ever IMLS director of strategic partnerships, and she has built a solid reputation for IMLS with outside partners including federal agencies, foundations, social entrepreneurs, and leading thinkers. I feel it is critical for IMLS to have a full time Director of Strategic Partnerships, and I’ve asked Ms. Semmel to continue providing her highly effective leadership in this role. I also want to make sure that the museum program is receiving the attention and focus that it deserves; and thus I feel that it is important for that program to have full-time executive leadership as well.

Please join me in welcoming Claudia French to IMLS.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit

Statement from IMLS Director Susan Hildreth on Agency Reorganization
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