Joan Edelman Spero

Board of Directors

Joan E. Spero is a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she researches and writes about international philanthropy and its role in the global system. From 2009 to 2010, Ms. Spero was a Visiting Scholar at the Foundation Center, where she conducted research on the role of American private foundations in U.S. foreign policy and in the global system. That research culminated in 2010 with the publication titled The Global Role of U.S. Foundations. From 1997 to the end of 2008, Ms. Spero served as President of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; President of the Duke Farms Foundation, a 2,700 acre property in New Jersey devoted to environmental stewardship; and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, whose mission is the study and understanding of Islamic arts and culture.

From 1993 to 1997, Ms. Spero served in the U.S. Department of State as Undersecretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. From 1981 to 1993, she held several offices with American Express Company, the last being Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications. She was Ambassador to the United Nations for Economic and Social Affairs from 1980 to 1981 and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University from 1973 to 1979. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Wisconsin and holds a master’s degree in international affairs and a doctorate in political science from Columbia University. She also studied at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris and is fluent in French.

Ms. Spero has authored several books, including The Politics of International Economic Relations (7th Edition, 2009) and The Failure of the Franklin National Bank (1980). She also has contributed to numerous professional journals. Active in professional associations in foreign affairs and economics, Ms. Spero is a member of the Council of American Ambassadors, the Academy of Diplomacy and the American Philosophical Society. She serves as Trustee of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the Morgridge Institute for Research and is a Trustee Emeritus of Columbia University, Amherst College, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution. She is a Director of IBM and International Paper.