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Smithsonian Names Julissa Marenco Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs


The Smithsonian announced today that Julissa Marenco has been named its Assistant Secretary for Communications and External Affairs. Marenco will oversee the Institution’s Offices of Public Affairs, Government Relations, Visitor Services, and Special Events and Protocol. Her first day will be Monday, Feb. 12.

Most recently, Marenco served as the chief external affairs officer and senior advisor at the Federal Communications Commission where she directed outreach, education and external affairs in the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. She was responsible for establishing strategic partnerships and developing outreach efforts to consumers, stakeholders and public and private partners.

“Julissa brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position,” said Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton. “She is a strong leader and an excellent choice to lead the Institution’s communications efforts.”

“I am incredibly honored by this amazing opportunity and look forward to working with Secretary Skorton and the Smithsonian’s senior leadership team,” said Marenco. “I am excited to lead and partner with an excellent team of communications and external affairs professionals to drive the Smithsonian brand forward.”

From 2009 to 2013, Marenco was the president of ZGS Communications Station Group where she oversaw the management and direction of 13 Telemundo television stations, three radio stations, multiple digital properties and more than 200 employees. She was responsible for implementing strategic partnerships, marketing initiatives and public relations campaigns designed to drive ratings, increase audience shares and build awareness and branding. She established key relationships with community stakeholders, Fortune 500 companies, Congress, press and media organizations, and federal, local and state governments.

Marenco was a White House Fellow in the Environmental Protection Agency from 2007 to 2008. While there, she developed public service campaigns, public forums and conferences to address and educate stakeholders about environmental concerns and stewardship. She expanded the agency’s bilingual national public service campaign “Beyond Translation,” which the EPA created to more fully engage with diverse communities and improve access to environmental and public health information.

From 2004 to 2007, she was the general manager of Telemundo WZDC 25. As general manager, she oversaw the day-to-day operation and financial management of the station. She created, developed and oversaw marketing and outreach campaigns, including the health and wellness campaign La Buena Vida and La Feria de la Familia, the Washington, D.C., area’s largest expo of products and services for Hispanic families. She transformed the station’s newscast from local news, weather and sports, to include international news and consumer advocacy and entertainment segments. She also established key partnerships with DC United, WTOP and the League of Women Voters. Before becoming the station’s general manager, she was its general sales manager (2002-2003).

Marenco was the national sales manager for the ZGS Communications Station Group in New York City (2001 to 2002) and the Telemundo Network’s associate marketing research manager (1998 to 2001).

Marenco earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Rowan University and her master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is currently a member of the Arlington Free Clinic’s community advisory board and a board member of CareFirst Maryland. She is also a member of Leadership Greater Washington, a nonprofit community leadership program that connects and convenes leaders to address the region’s most critical issues.

Marenco succeeds Evelyn Lieberman, who was the Smithsonian’s director of communications and external affairs from July 2002 to April 2015. John Lapiana served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Communications and External Affairs from April 2015 to August 2017; Carolyn Martin is currently serving in the position.

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