Joan E. Spero

Joan Edelman Spero (born October 2, 1944 in Davenport, Iowa) 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. Known as an international political economist, her book The Politics of International Economic Relations first published in 1977 is currently in its 7th edition and has been translated into numerous languages. She is also the author of The Failure of the Franklin National Bank originally published in 1980 and reprinted in 1999, as well as New World, New Deal: A Democratic Approach to Globalization (2000), The Global Role of U.S. Foundations (2010) and Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India, and Brazil (2014).

From 1997 to 2008, Ms. Spero served as President of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. 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 positions at 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. Ms. Spero 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 is a member of the Academy of Diplomacy, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council of American Ambassadors. Spero serves as a member of the Advisory Board of the Genesis Prize Foundation.[1] She serves as a Trustee of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the International Center for Transitional Justice and is a Trustee Emeritus of Columbia University, Amherst College, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Brookings Institution. Ms. Spero is a Director of IBM, International Paper and Citigroup and has previously served as a director of ING, FDC, Delta Airlines, and Hercules.



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Government offices
Preceded by
Robert Zoellick
Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs
April 1, 1993 February 24, 1997
Succeeded by
Stuart E. Eizenstat
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