Member News

Lilly Endowment Names New Vice Presidents

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Lilly Endowment announced today that new officers have been elected who will help guide various aspects of its grantmaking.  It also announced the retirement of Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s long-tenured vice president for education.

Robert L. Smith will become the Endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies.  In this new role, Smith will lead efforts to promote alignment and synergies between and among its grantmaking divisions, especially in the areas of education and community development.  Smith was elected as the Endowment’s vice president for community development in July 2018 after a 22-year career with Eli Lilly and Company, where he served for 13 years as president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.

Ronni Kloth has been elected to replace Smith as vice president for community development.  Kloth began her tenure at the Endowment in 2013 as its communications director after serving for seven years in various senior leadership roles for Teach for America’s national headquarters in New York City.  Since 2014, she has served as a program director in the Endowment’s community development division, where, among other things, she has been responsible for its grantmaking to support arts and cultural programs and efforts to strengthen the philanthropic sector.

Ted Maple, a program director in education at the Endowment since 2017, has been named vice president for education, effective September 1.  He joined the Endowment after spending more than 20 years working to strengthen early learning efforts in Indiana. From 2013 until his employment began at the Endowment, he led Early Learning Indiana, a nonprofit early-childhood provider and advocate for expansion and improvement of early-childhood education programs in the state. Maple will succeed Cobb, who will retire from the Endowment on August 31 after leading the education division for more than two decades.

Jackie Dowd has been named vice president for evaluation and special initiatives.  She joined the Endowment in 2016 as director of evaluation after more than a decade of experience in career and workforce development strategy with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and in higher education. In her new role, Dowd will continue to strengthen the Endowment’s evaluation efforts and administer various initiatives, including ones that involve more than one area of the Endowment’s grantmaking.

“In electing these new officers, the Endowment’s board of directors has recognized these leaders’ extraordinary intellect, character and dedication,” said N. Clay Robbins, the Endowment’s chairman, president and CEO.  “We are impressed by their commitment to the aims and values of the Endowment’s founders and look forward to the energy, imagination and strategic thinking they will bring to the performance of their responsibilities,” added Robbins.  Except as noted for Maple, these changes will be effective as of July 1.

Robbins also noted the Endowment board’s recognition of the excellent and faithful service of Cobb. During her long tenure she supervised more than 8,000 grants to help improve the educational attainment levels of Indiana’s residents and their abilities to find meaningful employment; to build the state’s intellectual capital; and to improve education opportunities for African American, Hispanic and Native American youth around the country.

“It has been an honor to work with Sara for some 22 years.  Her passionate commitment to her work and positive and collegial spirit have inspired all around her,” Robbins said. “Although she will be missed, she leaves behind a strong legacy for us to build on into the future.”

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.  Although it funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

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