Kay Elliott, who resigned this spring from the National Endowment for the Humanities 10 months after a controversial episode involving the use of government interns for work on the chairman's birthday party, has been hired by the Kennedy Center to fill the new position of director of marketing and public relations.

Roger Stevens, Kennedy Center chairman, said that while Elliott's exact duties have not yet been decided, she will help organize a more intensive promotional effort.

"We've been lax on promoting ticket sales and group sales," Stevens said. "Since we don't get any money from the government for theatrical productions, we need to do some more promotion."

When asked to comment on rumors of a Kennedy Center shakeup, Stevens said "there aren't enough of us there to shake up."

Thomas R. Kendrick, director of operations for the Kennedy Center, said the center's board of trustees had approved Elliott's hiring on Thursday. The center has advertised the job for some time, he said.

Elliott would not comment yesterday, and Kendrick would not release the salary for the government-funded job.

As director of public affairs for the NEH, a $38,100-a-year job, Elliott was found by an in-house investigation to have improperly directed summer interns to work on preparations for chairman Joseph Duffy's 46th birthday party. After news reports of the work appeared, five interns and a consultant resigned, charging she had curtailed their work because they leaked the story to the press.

A former reporter for the Washington Star, Elliott has a reputation for being bright and abrasive. "She works very hard but because of the way she works there is a lot of antagonism," Duffey said when first asked about the work on his "surprise" birthday party last year. "She has wanted to do a tremendous amount. She is very bright but it is a jungle and sometimes she is too naive."

Stevens said he thought Elliott had "learned her lesson at the other place she worked."

"For that kind of promotional work, there should be no problem," Stevens said.

Since leaving the NEH, Elliott said she has been working "on a book."

Kendrick said she is scheduled to start work Oct. 1.