July 18, 2019
New England Aquarium Names Vikki Spruill as President & CEO

Vikki Spruill
March 27, 2018 — New England Aquarium in Boston, one of the city's largest nonprofit tourist attractions, yesterday announced that Vikki Spruill, current leader of the Council on Foundations and former head of Ocean Conservancy, has been appointed president and chief executive officer.

She succeeds Nigella Hillgarth, who resigned from the post last spring after three years in the job. At the time, Maliz Beams, a board member and senior financial services executive for the New England Aquarium, was named interim president and chief executive officer. She subsequently was succeeded by Donna Hazard, the Aquarium’s board chair.

"Vikki’s extraordinary experience and leadership in both marine conservation and philanthropy make her uniquely qualified to lead the Aquarium’s mission to protect and advocate for vital and vibrant oceans,” said Hazard.

She added that Spruill, who will assume the post on July 30, is joining the organization "at an especially exciting time of growth," noting that the aquarium last year registered its highest attendance in 15 years, welcoming 1.4 million visitors.

For the last six years, Spruill has served as president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, the principal leadership organization for foundations and grant making institutions of all sizes and types in the United States. Prior to that, she served in a similar capacity at she Ocean Conservancy, the nation’s foremost advocacy organization dedicated to the ocean.

Spruill said, “There is no more important issue for our time than that of climate change and its links to our oceans. I am honored and humbled to join the New England Aquarium team at such a critical time for our oceans. From the air we breathe to marvelous sea animals large and small, the oceans reminds us of our profound connection to nature."

Spruill frequently writes and speaks about the impact and value of American philanthropy, as well as important issues affecting the charitable sector. In 2003, she co-founded FoundationWorks, an independent organization devoted to helping funders use strategic communications to enhance their effectiveness. She also served as the first director of the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative, a research program aimed at better understanding and building public trust in philanthropic organizations.

She also launched the Trash Free Seas Alliance, an industry collaborative that has produced influential research on the impacts of plastic in the ocean. She led a team that contributed to the passage of the RESTORE Act, a key step in directing essential funding to help the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem recover after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as began the organization’s work on ocean acidification.

Spruill earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and religious studies from Loyola University New Orleans and a Master of Science degree in communications from the University of West Florida.

Established in 1969, the Aquarium collaborates with partners around the world to protect ocean ecosystems, such as coral reefs and is home to the world’s longest-running right whale research program. In 2012 it received a $5.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a nationwide educational program on climate change.

For year ending Dec. 31, 2016, New England Aquarium reported $49.2 million in revenue, of which $11.4 million came from contributions and grants, and $45.1 million in expenses, according to its most recently available federal tax filing.

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