Vikki Spruill
Vikki Spruill

Vikki Spruill, one-time senior VP at Ruder Finn, will become CEO of the New England Aquarium, a major marine animal conservation, research and education center, on July 30.

An accomplished advocate for marine conservation and ocean protection, Spruill will join an institution which attracted 1.4M visitors in 2017, the most in 15 years, and is in the midst of planning the “Blueway” expansion on Boston’s Central Wharf.

Spruill will succeed CEO Nigella Hillgarth, who announced plans in January to return to the University of Washington (Seattle) to teach biology after a three-year stint in Boston.

She began her career at Burson-Marsteller and moved to Ruder Finn in 1990 with its acquisition of Peabody Fitzpatrick Communications, where Spruill was a principal.

Spruill exited RF in 1994 to launch SeaWeb, a nonprofit dedicated to using strategic communications tools to champion healthy oceans, promote eco-friendly seafood and improve presentation skills of scientists.

Following SeaWeb, she helped launch FoundationWorks to counsel the philanthropic sector on how to apply PR to improve their effectiveness, served as Ocean Conservancy president and led the Council of Foundations.

Donna Hazard, Aquarium chair, said in a statement that Spruill’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.”