Council on Foundations Names Vikki N. Spruill President and CEO

Spruill joins Council to apply member focus, thought leadership
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Arlington, VA

Vikki Spruill will become president and CEO of the Council on Foundations effective July 1, 2012. Spruill, currently the president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, brings a blend of expertise in both collaborative leadership and philanthropy.

"Vikki has a proven track record of transformative leadership," said Carol Larson, president and CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and chair of the board of directors of the Council on Foundations. "She has a fundamental understanding of both the importance of being member-focused and what it takes to be a relevant 21st century association."

Spruill has a deep background in nonprofit management, communications, and advocacy. Since 2006, she has led Ocean Conservancy, a highly respected national organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that has more than a half-million members and volunteers. While maintaining the science-based rigor in guiding its advocacy efforts, Spruill also modernized Ocean Conservancy’s public engagement strategies. She is an eminent thought leader and policy advocate and is well-known for her work in building effective teams and coalitions.

Entrepreneurship is a hallmark of Spruill’s career.  In 2003, she helped create FoundationWorks, an independent organization devoted to helping foundations and others in the philanthropic sector use strategic communications to enhance their philanthropic effectiveness. As the first director of the Philanthropic Awareness Initiative (PAI), she coauthored publications including Philanthropy in the News and Making American Foundations Relevant. Earlier in her career, Spruill founded and led SeaWeb, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing ocean issues through strategic communications and social marketing. Her work at SeaWeb was built on a 15-year career in public relations, including five years as a senior vice president of Ruder Finn, one of the largest independent public relations firms in the world.

"The Council on Foundations is a crucial and necessary organization for the field of philanthropy," said Spruill. "I see tremendous opportunity for both the Council and the philanthropic sector to better leverage and communicate their individual and collective value and impact. I look forward to working with the Council’s diverse membership to build a stronger philanthropic sector in service of the common good." 

Buff Bohlen, chairman of the board of directors of Ocean Conservancy, said, "Vikki has dedicated a significant portion of her professional life to protecting the ocean and the wildlife and livelihoods that it supports, a passion that was ignited during her years growing up on the Gulf Coast. While she will be greatly missed at Ocean Conservancy, under her strategic and poised leadership, our 40-year-old organization is more relevant, focused, and stronger than ever before. This is a wonderful opportunity for Vikki to have a widespread impact across the philanthropic sector."

A member-driven search committee was formed last summer to lead the Council on Foundations’ executive search and solicit input from the field. Cochaired by Kevin Murphy, president of the Berks County (Pennsylvania) Community Foundation and Judy Jolley Mohraz, president and CEO of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, the search committee solicited feedback from Council members and the philanthropic sector at large to inform the key characteristics that the next CEO must embody.  

Jeff Clarke will remain as interim president and CEO of the Council to ensure continuity in leadership through June 30, 2012.