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February 20, 2023

Museum of Pop Culture (MOPOP) Appoints
Michele Y. Smith, As Its Next Chief Executive Officer

SEATTLE (FEBRUARY 20, 2023) — The Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) is pleased to announce the appointment of Michele Y. Smith as Chief Executive Officer. MoPOP enters its third decade as an evolving and innovative cultural institution with strong ties to the Seattle and global art communities. The board of directors oversaw a robust national search process partnering with MoPOP staff and the Valtas Group executive search firm to find its next leader.

MoPOP is poised to amplify and transfer the study and celebration of pop culture, where creativity, courage, and innovation abound and unite through our shared humanity.

Shaunta Hyde, President of MoPOP’s Board of Directors, shares: On behalf of the board and staff, we are excited to bring Michele’s vision, passion, and excellence to MoPOP. Our mission is to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities. Michele’s background and experience are exactly what we were looking for as we grow in Seattle and the global arts community.”

Smith is a mission-focused leader with extensive experience in business development, operations, and finance in the nonprofit industry. She has a people-centered leadership style and approach to help drive an aligned vision and mission. Before joining MoPOP, Smith will transition from her role as the Chief Business & Financial Officer with the Award-winning cultural institution the Woodland Park Zoo. In her distinguished career at the Woodland Park Zoo, Michele led the organization through its recovery of COVID, with some of the most significant growth in revenue, events, guest services, admissions, automation, and finance. She is a champion of equity and inclusion and is a mentor to many emerging leaders. Her drive and dynamism created a stronger Zoo that supported their mission.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work at this iconic cultural institution that is tied to Seattle and the global arts community,” said Smith. “I was drawn to their commitment of addressing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) within museum culture. I look forward to working with the staff, board, and community to help define and shape the future and become a place for the community and guests to have creative exchanges and extraordinary experiences that spark light bulb moments for all generations.”

Smith’s appointment will take effect on March 27, 2023.

MoPOP is a leading-edge nonprofit museum in Seattle, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary pop culture. With a mission to make creative expression a life-changing force by offering experiences that inspire and connect our communities, MoPOP reaches multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, educational programs and community partnerships. At MoPOP, artists, audiences, and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation, and scholarship to the pop culture of our time. 


Nikki Carrido, VP of Marketing, Communications + Digital

Carey Kerns/The Hoffman Agency