Skip to main content
Job Title:
Executive Assistant , IS-0301, Grade 11; $74,129 - $96,363 annually
Type of Position:
Permanent - Indefinite Trust Fund Appointment
Job Location:
Cambridge, MA
Posting Opening Date:
Posting Closing Date:


Area of Consideration: Open to all qualified US citizens or perm residents. First consideration may be made 14 days after the opening date.


The Executive Assistant to the Director of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian provides confidential executive administrative and program support to the Director. The Executive Assistant participates in planning and managing the administrative functions of the Director's office, both for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory (the two components of the Center for Astrophysics).

Major Duties:

1. Serves as personal and confidential assistant to the Director. Reviews and keeps abreast of all correspondence and email directed to the Director and determines which should be directed to senior staff or others in the office. Develops and maintains a program to log and track all correspondence, reports and emails to ensure timely action, follow-up and replies.

2. Maintains the calendar for the Director. Arranges meetings, contacting participants, assembling correspondence, records, reports, and other material having a bearing on the subject for discussion. When required, assists in the arrangement of the agenda, attending meetings, if needed, taking notes and preparing summarizations as required for subsequent action by the Director or senior staff or for their review before later discussions.

3. Receives and screens visitors; answers multi-line phone system for the Director's Office and routes calls based on a thorough understanding of programs and priorities. Coordinates and facilitates logistics for visitors to the Director, including national and international travel, accommodation and schedules.

4. Composes correspondence, reports and statistical data from brief notes or verbal instructions, drawing on knowledge of the Director’s interest and priorities, office operations, and requirements to locate information. Reviews outgoing correspondence for procedural and grammatical accuracy, conformance to general policy, and factual correctness.

5. Facilitates report preparation for the Director, including preparing charts and spreadsheets based on data and reports provided by staff and external sources, as needed.

6. Coordinates and facilitates all logistics for the Director's domestic and international travel with the Harvard College Observatory, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the Smithsonian Institution travel staff and offsite travel agencies; schedules appointments and prepares itineraries; prepares trip folders and gathers all necessary material for the Director’s travel; prepares trip expense reports; maintains travel files and a MS Access travel status database.

7. Uses analytical techniques to identify and resolve issues or problems of a procedural nature including administrative practices and procedures common to SAO such as channels of communication, routing of correspondence and filing systems.

8. Establishes and maintains Director’s Office digital files. Obtains material from other offices or agencies as necessary.

9. Reviews files annually to determine what material should be retained, destroyed to archived, based on the Director’s priorities.

10. Supports the Director with development of PowerPoint presentations including preparing presentations using figures and data provided by the Director and staff. Sources material for presentations as requested. Manages logistics related to presentation at conferences and events. Reviews the Director’s presentations for grammatical accuracy and factual correctness.

11. Acts as the Director's personal liaison with the Office of the Secretary at Smithsonian, the Smithsonian Under Secretary offices, and with the Harvard University President's Office. Communicates effectively and professionally on behalf of the Director.

12. Works on a variety of projects as assigned by the Director. Performs other duties necessary to the functioning of the Director's Office as assigned by the Director and in support of the Director’s Office management team.


Minimum of one year specialized experience equivalent to at least grade 9 in the normal line of progression for this occupation.  Specialized experience is experience that has equipped the applicant with the particular competencies/knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position such as office administration, supporting senior level executives, maintaining calendars, arranging meetings and conferences, coordinating travel arrangements, preparing reports, processing time sheets, filing. 


Ph.D. or equivalent doctoral degree.


3 full years of progressively higher level graduate education leading to such a degree.


a combination of education and experience.

For information on qualification requirements, see Qualification Standards Handbook for General Schedule Positions viewable on the web at

APPLICATION PROCEDURE We will only accept applications on line for this position.  For complete information about this position and the online application procedures, please visit:  USAJOBS

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and its impact on your application, click on Smithsonian Institution’s Frequently Asked Questions

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity in our workplace

Learn more about SAO Human Resources

Visit the SAO website