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September 15, 2014

Edward M. Kennedy Institute Enhances Management Team with New Senior Executive Hire

Bill DeWalt joins team after distinguished career in museum management; prepares the Institute for dedication in March 2015.

BOSTON—The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate (the Institute) is proud to announce Billie (Bill) R. DeWalt, PhD, has joined the organization as Executive Vice President and Museum Director. The Institute—which is dedicated to educating the public about the history and contributions of the United States Senate and encouraging participation in our democracy—is scheduled to open to the public in March 2015.

In this newly created role, DeWalt will oversee the Institute’s day-to-day operations, including programming, educational resources, exhibits and public events. DeWalt will also supervise all aspects of the Institute’s technology and the Senate simulations, which will take place in the Institute’s full-scale representation of the U.S. Senate Chamber.

A seasoned museum executive with experience launching new initiatives, DeWalt served as Founding President and Director of the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix from 2007 to 2013. During his tenure, DeWalt guided the launch of a $250 million museum, which opened to great acclaim in 2010.

Previously, DeWalt served as Director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History from 2001 to 2007, where he oversaw the renovation and expansion of the museum. He had a distinguished career in academia at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Kentucky before entering the museum field.

“We are thrilled to have Bill joining the team,” said Victoria Reggie Kennedy, President of the Board of Directors of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. “With experience opening and running museums, Bill will be a tremendous asset for the Institute as we enter a new phase. A leading educator and executive, Bill is the perfect fit for this center of learning and civic engagement, as we prepare to open our doors next spring.”

“Bill’s experience will be invaluable in running the day-to-day operations of the Institute and managing the exhibits,” said Jean MacCormack, President of the Institute. “We are thrilled he is joining us at this critical time and are confident he will help the Institute become a world-class destination for learning about the U.S. Senate and the value of public service.”

“I am tremendously excited and honored to be joining the Institute team,” said DeWalt. “Engaging the public in understanding and appreciating the important role the Senate plays in our country’s democracy is critically important.

From the moment a visitor walks through the Institute’s doors they will engage in an interactive learning experience. They will embark on a virtual journey through the history of the Senate—an institution Senator Ted Kennedy loved and served in for more than five decades. Visitors can explore the legislative process by participating in a one-of-a-kind immersion as a Senator-in-training within a full-scale representation of the United States Senate Chamber. Using digital tablets, engaging in participatory games, and role-playing exercises, visitors will debate, negotiate and vote on legislation, and ideally, leave the Institute inspired to make a difference in their own communities.

A native of Shamokin, Pennsylvania who grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, DeWalt holds a BA and PhD from the University of Connecticut in Cultural Anthropology, has an extensive list of academic publications, and has been a Fulbright Lecturer in Ecuador and Argentina.


About the Edward M. Kennedy Institute

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to studying and exploring how our government and the Senate works - and how it can work better - invigorating public discourse, and inspiring visitors and the next generation of citizens to become more active in their own communities. More information can be found at

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