As deputy director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Stephanie Brinley provides executive leadership and direction for overall planning, development and management of programs and activities at the 163-acre facility in Washington, D.C., the 3,200-acre Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, and around the world. She directly manages a staff of more than 65 people to oversee planning, operations, and support for more than 450 employees and 1,800 animals.

Prior to joining the Zoo, Brinley spent more than four years at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum as the assistant director for business operations and technology. In that role, she implemented critically needed financial, operational and administrative process changes that were directly responsible for both saving and generating significant funds for the museum, allowing for further curatorial and scientific research, educational programming and public outreach missions.

Brinley is a 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree from Troy State University in international relations. She served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years as an intelligence officer, supporting a variety of fighter aircraft missions. After leaving active duty, she taught in Goldsboro, North Carolina, specifically middle school social studies and science. In 2003, she moved to the Washington, D.C., area and worked in Air Force acquisitions in the Pentagon, providing fiscal and program management oversight for a number of high priority programs. In 2011, she joined the Department of Defense Joint Program Office for the F-35 Lightning II in Arlington, Virginia, where she held positions as the director of software, chief of staff, and lead for congressional and audits engagement.

Brinley is a member of Association of Zoos and Aquariums, American Alliance of Museums, and Executive Women in Government (Board of Directors, 2020-2021). She is a recipient of numerous medals and honors from her time in the United States Air Force, including the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Brinley currently resides in Herndon, Virginia, with her husband of 29 years.

Research Interests

Stephanie Brinley is focused on the operations and support for the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute locations in Washington, D.C., and Front Royal, Virginia, as well as the support of staff at these locations and around the world.