Vikki Spruill will be returning to the sea as the new president and CEO of the New England Aquarium. Spruill, who has served as president and CEO of the Council on Foundations since 2012, previously served as president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy and was founder and president of SeaWeb, a nonprofit focused on using strategic communication to advance ocean conservation. She will take the wheel at the Boston, Mass.-based aquarium on July 30.
“There is no more important issue for our time than that of climate change and its links to our oceans,” Spruill said via a statement. “I am honored and humbled to join the New England Aquarium team at such a critical time for our oceans . . . I feel compelled to return to my roots in ocean conservation and join a legacy institution I have long admired and respected for its deep research and its ability to inform and inspire millions of visitors about the wonder of our oceans.”
Spruill’s arrival comes at a time of growth for the aquarium, with 2017’s mark of 1.4 million visitors representing a 15-year high. Donna Hazard, the aquarium’s board of trustees chair and interim president and CEO described the organization as a blend between a cultural institution, educational center, and marine conservation and research organization.
Spruill has, in addition to her organization leadership roles, been active in the marine and environmental spaces by launching the Trash Free Seas Alliance, a collaborative that researches the impact of plastic in the ocean; serving on the board of COMPASS, which enables scientists to better communicate with the public around environmental issues; and working toward the passage of the federal RESTORE Act, which was passed in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“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.
In a foundation release, Javier Alberto Soto, president of the Miami Foundation and chair of the Council on Foundations’ board of directors, indicated that Spruill will remain with the council until June 1. Gene Cochrane, former council board member and recently retired CEO of the Duke Endowment, will then step in as interim CEO. Jamie Merisotis, vice chair of the council’s board and president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation will chair the search committee for Spruill’s successor while Soto will lead an outreach committee to seek input from membership concerning qualities to be sought for the council’s next leader.
“Vikki has been a transformational leader for the Council in her nearly six years at the helm,” said Soto. “This is an exciting and challenging time for philanthropy. We look forward to welcoming a visionary leader who will advance the Council’s role in harnessing this energy and propelling the field to build a more equitable and just society.”
The Arlington, Va.-headquartered council reported revenues of $11.6 million in 2016, the most recent year for which Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990 data is available, down from $15.2 million in 2015, $14.2 million in 2014, and $14.3 million in 2013. The aquarium reported revenues of $49.2 million in 2016, $41.6 million in 2015, $41.5 million in 2014, and $38.2 million in 2013.