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Smithsonian Names Robert J. Spiller Assistant Secretary for Advancement


The Smithsonian announced today that it has named Robert J. Spiller Assistant Secretary for Advancement. Spiller will oversee the Institution’s Office of Advancement, which is involved in building critical philanthropic financial support for the Smithsonian. His first day at the Smithsonian will be March 12.

Spiller is currently the associate vice president for development and alumni relations at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is part of the department’s senior management team, which oversees the strategic direction of a more than 500-member staff that raises more than $600 million annually for the university. Spiller directly manages a staff of more than 100 whose portfolio includes the Whiting School of Engineering, the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Sheridan Libraries and University Museums, corporate relations and international development. He also has managed the gift planning and foundation relations divisions (2012 to 2015) and human resources and talent management (2015 to 2016).

“Robert brings outstanding experience in advancement to this position,” Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton said. “His successes at Johns Hopkins make him the right person to lead these efforts for the Smithsonian and build on the momentum we developed during our first comprehensive national fundraising campaign.”

“I am truly honored to join the Smithsonian community under the exceptional leadership of Secretary Skorton,” Spiller said. “The mission of the Smithsonian is more relevant today than ever, and I am excited about the opportunity to help advance the vital work taking place across the Institution. I especially look forward to building on existing relationships and creating new partnerships through collaborations with the directors, the advancement team and all of the Smithsonian staff responsible for such world-class scholarship and programming.”

Spiller has played a leadership role in the design and management of Johns Hopkins’ “Rising to the Challenge” campaign, which concludes this summer and is expected to exceed its $5 billion goal. He is the campaign lead for undergraduate scholarship and professorship fundraising, securing multiple significant gifts in both areas.

From 2005 to 2011, Spiller was the associate dean for development and alumni relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Engineering. He directed all fundraising and alumni relations activities for the school and led it through the university’s previous campaign, exceeding its campaign goal.

Spiller began his tenure at Johns Hopkins as director of regional and international programs (2001–2005), where he established a central fundraising program to raise major gifts in the U.S. and abroad for the university, its school of medicine and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

From 1994 to 2001, Spiller was the senior associate director of major gifts at Yale University. Previously he was an international business analyst for Litton Industries in Washington, D.C.

Spiller received his bachelor’s degree in political science with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his master’s degree in international relations from the University of Virginia.

He succeeds Virginia Clark, who was the Smithsonian’s Assistant Secretary of Advancement from July 2002 until March 2017; Zully Dorr has served as the Acting Assistant Secretary since Clark’s retirement.

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