Marc Pachter graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley and did doctoral work in American history at Harvard University. For much of his career at the Smithsonian he served as chief historian of the National Portrait Gallery, and then in central administration, dealing with international relations, among other concerns. He was chair of the delegation of American cultural critics to the Soviet Union in 1989. From 1985 to 1990, he was senior cultural adviser to the United States Information Agency. An author and editor with a particular interest in cultural history and biography, he has conducted public interviews for the Smithsonian with such notable figures as William L. Shirer, Umberto Eco, and Katharine Graham. Pachter presided over the jury that selected the winners of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006.