Jim Hobbins served the Smithsonian for 40 years, acting as Executive Assistant to the Secretary from 1980 until his retirement in 2007. He writes to invite other Smithsonian retirees to join the Alumni Program.
For decades I worked happily at the Smithsonian without ever giving serious thought to retirement. Thinking back, it seemed as if I’d be going from “live” to “dead” – once I left Smithsonian employment, I would have practically no connection with the Institution. When I retired in 2007, I desperately hung on to my friends, both those who left before me and those who stayed in place. It was an awkward transition.
Within a year or so I heard about Mary Tanner’s initiative to establish the Smithsonian Alumni Program, and the idea immediately struck a chord with me. So I volunteered to help, and together we’ve nurtured a mighty viable program that shows real promise for the future. Just today I learned that we’ve grown to 270 members. We steadfastly maintain the group on a no-budget, volunteer basis. We connect with our members through email, eVites, a list-serv, and Facebook. (Ed. note: And, of course, the Torch!)
Our members seem happy. According to a recent survey, about 80 percent of us have remained in the Washington area. The vast majority of us want about four organized events each year that will bring us in touch with the gamut of Smithsonian-related history, art, sciences and facilities. Our events have included a tour of the Arts & Industries Building after its interior was stripped; a session on the Castle as an icon, a tour of the Zoo; an introduction to the African-American Museum, curator-led tours at the Portrait Gallery, American Art Museum and Natural History Museum – and special director-led visits to the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Newseum and the Marine Corps Museum. In every instance, our planning of these events has been helped immeasurably by our friends at the Smithsonian.
Mary and I represent the Alumni Program at monthly meetings of the Smithsonian Community Committee, where we help keep alumni involved in activities such as the SI-SHAPE walks, the annual Staff Picnic and SI @ the Movies. We are looking at other ways that alumni can remain involved in the Smithsonian community. One of the greatest benefits of joining the Alumni Program is the opportunity to share good times with former colleagues and old friends.
Interested in learning more? Email Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: 27 March 2014