We are pleased to announce that Vikki Spruill has been appointed New England Aquarium President and CEO.

Spruill brings a wealth of national leadership experience both in philanthropy and marine conservation. She will start on July 30.

Throughout her career, Spruill has worked to elevate the significance of philanthropy and make it more effective. Since 2012, she 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. As a leader in the field, she 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. Her writing on philanthropy has appeared in major publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Vikki Spruill Aquarium president and CEO

Spruill also brings major credentials in marine conservation. Prior to leading the Council on Foundations, she served as President and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, the nation’s foremost advocacy organization dedicated to the ocean. Her work to make complex ocean issues relevant to the public led to expanded participation in international coastal cleanup efforts and here in Massachusetts with the Coastsweep program. She also launched the Trash Free Seas Alliance, an industry collaborative that has produced seminal research on the impacts of plastic in the ocean. She led the 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.

Prior to her tenure at Ocean Conservancy, Spruill spent more than a decade as the founder and President of SeaWeb, a nonprofit organization that uses strategic communication techniques to advance ocean conservation. She led a team that designed and executed a multitude of impactful and innovative programs that promoted healthy oceans and improved ocean governance, including critical work that directly contributed to the establishment of the sustainable seafood movement.

Spruill also helped found and currently serves on the board of COMPASS, which works to empower scientists to be better communicators and help them engage in the public discourse about the environment.

Donna Hazard, the Aquarium’s Chair of the Board of Trustees and Interim President and CEO, stated, “The Aquarium is a unique blend of a major cultural institution, an education center and a marine conservation and research organization. It educates and inspires and ultimately mobilizes people to protect our blue planet. 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”

After a winter of unprecedented tidal flooding in downtown Boston, 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. 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.
- Vikki Spruill

Hazard added, “Vikki is joining the Aquarium at an especially exciting time of growth. In 2017, we enjoyed our highest attendance in more than 15 years with 1.4 million visitors, the Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life is transforming science into action by engaging a wide range of stakeholders in developing practical solutions that mitigate human impacts on our oceans, and the Aquarium is continuing its pioneering work training thousands of educators at informal science and cultural institutions nationwide to address climate change.”