Brooke Smith

Director, Science and Society

Brooke Smith is the director of Science and Society at The Kavli Foundation. She leads programs aimed at strengthening the relationship between science and society. This includes portfolios focused on how publics might engage in ethical considerations born scientific discovery; effective ways to connect basic science with publics; building the field of public engagement with science; engagement efforts of Kavli Foundation partners; and advancing science policies that enable a thriving scientific enterprise. Brooke is part of the leadership of a broader collaborative of philanthropic funders interested in the role of science in society, including as participants of the Civic Science Fellows program.

Brooke’s career has been built around her interest in the societal context, relevance and connections of science. Her expertise and experiences are rooted in science, science communication, public engagement of science, public policy, science journalism and organizational leadership and development. Prior to joining the foundation in 2018, Brooke served as the inaugural Executive Director of COMPASS, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering scientists to be effective communicators and to engage in the public discourse about the environment. She has worked as a university-based communication professional for multi-campus scientific initiatives, as a consultant to foundations and nonprofits, and with and for the federal government.

She frequently writes and speaks about the state and future of the how to support the relationship between science and publics. Examples include “The Civic Science Imperative” published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the chapter “Science Communication in the United States, It’s Complicated” in the international volume of the history of science communication titled, “The Emergence of Modern Science Communication,” and a contributed chapter, “A Metro for Science Engagement: Building and Infrastructure to Support Scientists’ Communication and Engagement,” published in “Science Communication Theory and Best Practices.” Brooke has also written numerous blogs, given keynote talks, and participated on panels about engaging publics in research design, processes, and application.

Brooke’s executive leadership and deep knowledge of nonprofits, philanthropy and governance issues have led to her service on national and local boards. She currently serves on the Center for Media Engagement Board at U.T. Austin’s Moody College of Communication. Previous board positions include the National Caucus for Environmental Legislators and the Surfrider Foundation. She has been a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow, courtesy faculty at Oregon State University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Roundtable on the Public Interfaces of Life Sciences. Brooke has served on advisory boards, including the National Academy of Sciences’ LabX, and has been a judge for international science engagement efforts, such as Falling Walls Engage and the Silbersalz International Science and Media Festival.

Brooke has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and an M.Sc. from Oregon State University. She lives in Culver City, CA, with her husband and two teenage daughters.