The Smith Leadership Symposium is a signature event of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership’s Learning Institute program. The event inspires and advances our cultural community’s ability to serve the public and to create dynamic visitor experiences. Past speakers include Ken Blanchard, Ford Bell, John Falk, Nina Simon, Salvador Acevedo, Chip Conley, Gail Anderson, Lori Fogarty, and many more.

The Symposium is named in memory of Robert “Bob” Smith, a San Diego civic and business leader. Mr. Smith’s service to Balboa Park began when he was a young newsboy, selling daily papers at the California-Pacific International Exposition in 1935. In later years, he provided strategic planning consulting for many Park institutions, including: the San Diego Natural History Museum, Zoological Society of San Diego, and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership.

The Balboa Park Learning Institute (BPLI) is a multi-faceted professional development program created for the staff of the arts, science and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, and shared with a broader audience. The Learning Institute programs expand networks and enhance attendees’ abilities to explore, gain, and share knowledge about advancing professional practices. The Learning Institute also facilitates special projects that use Balboa Park as a learning laboratory for experimenting with new practices that has implications for the broader cultural and educational fields, such as collaborative audience research.

The Informal Learning Leadership Collaborative is comprised of leaders from throughout the US and around the world. Their mission is to strengthen and extend the capacity of organizations and individuals to drive change within their communities by nurturing the development of transformative leaders through their growing global network.

The Learning Institute is a keystone program of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a nonprofit created in 2003 to facilitate collaboration among 28 diverse arts, science, and cultural institutions in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park. Through collaboration, Partnership members achieve greater effectiveness, excellence and innovation than would be possible individually in a range of activities, from collective purchasing and going “green” to advocacy, joint programming, and professional development. Working together, the Park institutions are able to create the most outstanding “Balboa Park Experience” for people who are visiting, working in, and/or partnering with the Park.


The Learning Institute is supported in part by: