Lilly Endowment names new vice president for community development

The Lilly Endowment has tapped the head of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation to be its new vice president for community development.

The Indianapolis-based private foundation announced Wednesday that Robert L. Smith will succeed Wallace “Ace” Yakey Jr., who is retiring June 30 after serving in the position since 2012.

Smith joined Eli Lilly and Co. in 1996 and serves as senior director of corporate responsibility and president of the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, which is independent of the Lilly Endowment.

“I have long admired the Lilly family, and it has been an honor to work for the company they built,” Smith said in a written statement. “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.”

The community development division Smith will lead is the largest category of grant-making at the endowment. In 2016, the division awarded $177.8 million.

“Although we will miss Ace, the endowment is delighted that Rob has agreed to lead our community development division,” N. Clay Robbins, chairman, president and CEO of the endowment, said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Yakey, who has been with the endowment since 1997, previously served as a program director in the community development division before becoming a vice president. Prior to joining the endowment, Yakey was president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

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