Staff and leadership

Meet the staff, board members, and advisors of Planet Word — all of whom share a love of the written and spoken word.

Board of Directors         Advisory Board

Board of Directors

Planet Word is privileged to have the support of talented and experienced board members from across the country. They bring us leadership in fields as diverse as museum operations, nonprofit stewardship, education, real estate, marketing, journalism, literacy, technology, and community partnerships.

Our Board ensures we have the guidance and oversight to grow from a big idea to a thriving, world-class institution.

Don Baer is Chairman of the global strategic communications firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe.

HyeSook Chung is the President of The Baltimore Civic Fund.

Michael Cornfeld is President and Chief Investment Officer of Heritage Investors Management Corporation.

Ann Doerr primarily works in the area of climate change.

Susan Engel is Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Founding Director of the Program in Teaching at Williams College.

Samia Farouki is the Founder and CEO of Hii-Finance, Corp., a global investment company.

Ann Friedman is the Founder and CEO of Planet Word and the developer behind the restoration of the Franklin School, the museum’s home.

Tom Friedman is the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times.

Jay Goldberg is an attorney and CPA who concentrates in tax, estate planning, and probate.

Mary Lou Gorno is Managing Director of Ingenuity International.

Ken Greer is a brand strategist, change agent, technology geek, and creative spark. He is Chief Marketing Officer of Augeo, a global leader in enterprise engagement and loyalty platforms.

Kimberly Johnson is Fannie Mae’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Sara Lesk is Senior Educator and Manager of Art Around the Corner in the Education Division at the National Gallery of Art.

Lindsay Martin is Deputy Director of the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

Caron Garcia Martinez is Director of the Center for Business Communications at American University’s Kogod School of Business.

Craig Mundie is President of Mundie & Associates.

Jonathan Plutzik is the Chairman and principal owner of The Betsy – South Beach.

Patty Isacson Sabee is Planet Word’s Inaugural Executive Director.

Deborah Ratner Salzberg has been in the real estate industry for over 35 years.

Stefanie Sanford serves as Chief of Global Policy & External Relations for the College Board.

Joseph Sassoon is the Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University.

Dov Seidman has led a career focused on how companies and their people can operate in both principled and profitable ways.

Marsha Semmel is an independent consultant working with cultural and educational organizations.

Doug Siegler is a tax and estate planning attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of Venable, LLP.

Tina Small serves on the Executive Committee of the National Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors.

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author.

Ralph Smith is the managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.

Rick Soskin serves as President and CEO of Engineered Network Solutions, Inc.

Sree Sreenivasan is the inaugural Marshall R. Loeb Visiting Professor of Digital Innovation at Stony Brook University School of Journalism.

Jerry Tarde is the Editor-in-Chief of Golf Digest and Global Head of Strategy and Content for Discovery Golf, a division of Discovery Communications.

Frederick O. Terrell is the former Executive Vice Chairman of Investment Banking and Capital Markets at Credit Suisse.

Lynn Thoman is an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Advisory Board

The museum’s eminent Advisory Board Members represent experts from many different fields, including linguistics, anthropology, literature, computer science, natural language processing, music, theater, psychology, and more.

The museum is fortunate to have their enthusiastic support and expertise.

Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Metaforce and an expert in all disciplines of branding; author of four books including Shift Ahead: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast-Changing…

Professor of Linguistics Emerita, American University; author of Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, and the upcoming…

Co-Founder of Doctrina Education Consulting, a women-owned business specializing in connecting the rich content in museum collections with students and teachers nationwide; former Strategist for LearnZillion.com, where she developed the…

Professor of English, UCLA; director of the Laboratory for Race & Popular Culture (the RAP Lab); author of Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop; The Poetry of Pop;…

Principal Research Scientist; social psychological assessments of language and well-being.

Associate Professor of English, University of Maryland; language, writing, and rhetoric, the language of politics, discourse analysis

Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor, Wales; writer, lecturer, and broadcaster on language and linguistics, with special reference to English

Professor of English and Linguistics and Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan; research on the history of English, language and gender, lexicography, and…

Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Associate Director of Inclusion and Diversity Education, Stanford University; academic writer and editor; specialist in feminist, gender and sexuality studies as well as digital pedagogy…

Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for the Study of Learning, Georgetown University; neuroscientist specialized in the brain bases of reading and developmental dyslexia; former president of…

Writer, linguist, author of Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners and Um…: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean

Linguist, writer, Fellow at New America; author of Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language and Our Towns: A 100,000 Mile Journey into the Heart of America

Genre-bending singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist; Artistic Advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra; author of A Dream About Lightning Bugs

Associate Professor of Indigenous Languages & Education (Institute for Critical Indigenous Studies; Department of Language and Literacy Education), University of British Columbia; Hawaiian and Indigenous language revitalization, education, and digital…

Professor of United States Legal Discourse, Georgetown University Law School; language and law, multilingualism and social justice

Former Professor of Semitic Philology, Harvard University, and Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas at Austin; Semitic languages, historical linguistics, and writing systems

Professor and Chair of Linguistics and Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University; computational linguistics and its application to the behavioral and social sciences

Cognitive linguist and instructional designer specializing in second language acquisition, language revitalization, and experience-, project-, place-, and game-based language learning solutions

Senior Vice President of Operations & Experience, COSI (Columbus Center of Science and Industry); former director, Museum of Ohio Project; former Executive Director, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (SEEC); former Senior…

Associate Professor, Communications, Culture and Technology (CCT), Georgetown University; literary criticism and textual studies

Internet linguist and author of Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language; Resident Linguist at Wired and co-creator of Lingthusiasm, a podcast that’s enthusiastic about linguistics

Lexicographer, founder of the online dictionary Wordnik, author of the “Weird and Wonderful Words” series

Professor of Linguistics, University of Arizona; children’s development of language and literacy, collaboration on informal science learning with Children’s Museum Tucson

Professor of Linguistics, Columbia University; how creole languages form and how language grammars change as the result of sociohistorical phenomena

President of Humorworks Seminars and author of six books on the nature and value of humor, most recently Laughing All the Way

Carolyn Silva Chambers Distinguished Professor of Advertising and director of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication advertising program, where she teaches creativity and strategic thinking

Executive Vice President and Corporate Secretary, The Aspen Institute, Henry Crown Fellow, former director of the State Department’s International Visitors Office, author and poet, rare book collector, specialist on 18th…

Director and Host of Poetry in America, director of Verse Video Education, and the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in classic…

Professor and Chair, Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences, University of Maryland; co-director Maryland Cochlear Implant Center of Excellence; Associate Director Maryland Language Science Center; language development, comprehension of spoken…

Conference Interpreter and Professor of Translation and Interpretation, Graduate School of Translation, Interpretation and Language Education, Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and co-founder of InterpretAmerica; translation, interpreting, multilingual communication,…

Professor of Psychology, University of Waterloo; how language and social cognition develop in early childhood and the assessment of young children’s use of language

Regents Centennial Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, social psychology of everyday language

Director, Maryland Language Science Center and Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland; psychology and neuroscience of language, language diversity, interdisciplinary research and education

Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology, Harvard University; research on language, cognition, and social relations

Bilingual and bicultural speech-language pathologist; co-founder and private practitioner specializing in bi- and multi-lingual language development, literacy skills, and intervention across the lifespan

Arabic linguist, natural language processing, dialectology

National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature; award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of many books including Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series, Long Way Down, which received both…

Principal, WP Rivers & Associates; language policy in the U.S., language and national security, language access, and the language industry

Author of many books, including The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms; Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts; Writing and Script: A Very Short Introduction; Cracking…

Teacher of English as a Second Language, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Senior Executive with Transparent Language, Inc. and former Central Intelligence Agency Senior Language Authority; foreign language learning and linguistic services within the intelligence community

Vilas Research Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; cognitive neuroscientist, decades of research in language, reading, and dyslexia

Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development at Yale University and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, child neurologist and neuroscientist

Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at Yale University and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, physician-scientist, member of the National Academy of Medicine,…

Enigmatologist, New York Times crossword editor, puzzle master for NPR, founder/director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, and composer

PhD candidate, Harvard University; teacher, writer, 2014 National Poetry Slam champion

University Distinguished Professor Emerita in English, Co-Founder and former Acting Director, African American and African Studies, and Core Faculty, African Studies Center, Michigan State University; author of ten books, including…

Harvard Graduate School of Education, Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor; specialist in children’s language acquisition, effective reading instruction, bilingualism, and developing curricular supports for language and literacy

University Professor and Professor of Linguistics, Georgetown University; associate editor, Language in Society; author of many books, including The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words and the New York…

Senior engineer at IBM Watson and founding member of the Austin Museum of Digital Art; creative technologist, digital humanities and data visualization researcher, and songwriter

Instructor, Department of Linguistics, University of Oregon; research on speech perception, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics; public engagement with language science

Professor of Linguistics, Gallaudet University; American Sign Language (ASL), applied cognitive linguistics and community engagement, sign language teaching, and sign language interpreting

Professor of Psychology, Ohio State University; children’s language acquisition, Director of the Language Sciences Research Lab at the Columbus Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of English Linguistics at North Carolina State University, pioneering research on social and ethnic dialects of American English, co-author of American English: Dialects and Variation,…

Founder and Principal of DRY Inc., a communications and editorial content consultancy; long-time IBM Corporate Communications vice president who led global public relations and employee communications teams

Professor Emerita in the Ethnic Studies Department of the University of California San Diego; anthropolitical linguist, studies U.S. LatinU varieties of Spanish and English; author of award-winning Growing up Bilingual:…

Linguist, lexicographer, all-around word nut; language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and contributing editor to The Atlantic; former columnist for The Boston Globe and The New York Times Magazine;…

Our Staff

Planet Word is managed and operated by a truly dedicated group of employees and volunteers. These people curate and care for our many exhibits, guide visitors and groups around the museum, and ensure that we stay focused on sharing the power, fun, and beauty of language with the world. Contact Us

Assistant Manager of Visitor Services

Exhibition Content Manager

Building Engineer

Manager of Visitor Services

Education Program Coordinator

Technical Director

Curator of Programming

Manager of Administration

Digital Media Manager

Director of Technology and Operations

  • Did you know?

    The 10 most-used letters in English are E, A, R, I, O, T, N, S, L, and C.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • Did you know?

    Eels, llamas, and aardvarks, ooh my! In English, there are only four letters that appear as double letters at the beginning of a word: “A,” “E,” “L,” and “O.”
  • How do you get a dog to stop eating your books?

    Take the words right out of its mouth!
  • What's the difference between a cat and a comma?

    A cat has claws at the end of its paws, but a comma’s a pause at the end of a clause.
  • Did you know?

    A “deipnosophist” is a person who’s really good at making conversation at the dinner table.
  • Riddle me this

    What starts with an e, ends with an e, and contains just one letter? (Answer: An envelope!)
  • Riddle me this

    What begins with a t, ends with a t, and has t in it? (Answer: A teapot!)
  • Riddle me this

    What’s in centuries, hours, and years, but not minutes, days, or seconds? (Answer: The letter R!)
  • Quote them on it

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx
  • Quote them on it

    “The past is always tense, the future perfect.” — Zadie Smith
  • Quote them on it

    “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” — Toni Morrison
  • Quote them on it

    "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." — Nelson Mandela