General News

Lilly Endowment elects Robert L. Smith as Vice President for Community Development

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

(Indianapolis, Indiana) Lilly Endowment announced today that Robert L. Smith has been elected the Endowment’s vice president for community development, effective July 1, 2018. Smith will succeed Wallace “Ace” Yakey, Jr., who will retire from the Endowment on June 30.

Smith joined Eli Lilly and Company in 1996 after earning an MBA in finance from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. At Lilly, he has served as financial analyst, minority business coordinator, manager of investor relations and director of corporate communications. He moved into his current role in 2005 and serves as senior director of corporate responsibility and president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. In this role, he oversees a team accountable for Lilly’s philanthropic efforts, including its work in global health and engagement in Indianapolis. His team also oversees Lilly’s major employee volunteer programs and the company’s archives.

“I have long admired the Lilly family, and it has been an honor to work for the company they built. It is a privilege beyond words to join the philanthropic organization they made possible – one that has had such a positive influence in my home state of Indiana and beyond. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at Lilly Endowment and helping them build on the extraordinary legacy of the Endowment’s founders.”

Yakey joined the Endowment’s staff on Nov. 1, 1997, as program director in community development. In 2012, he was elected vice president for community development. Before joining the Endowment, Yakey was president of the Indianapolis Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit corporation that was responsible for the retention and expansion of existing businesses in the Indianapolis area, as well as the attraction of new businesses to the region.

The Endowment’s community development division supports efforts that enhance the quality of life in Indianapolis and Indiana. It also provides funding for compelling causes that are consistent with the values and interests of its founders throughout the country.

“It has been a true privilege to work with Ace for more than 20 years. There is no one more committed to improving the quality of life of all the residents of communities throughout Indiana. The Endowment is most grateful for his dedicated and passionate leadership and service,” said N. Clay Robbins, the Endowment’s chairman, president and CEO.

“Although we will miss Ace, the Endowment is delighted that Rob has agreed to lead our community development division. His character, wisdom and dedication to the values and aims of the Endowment’s founders, along with the relevant expertise he has developed through his various experiences at Eli Lilly and Company, make him ideal for this role.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

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