The Associates of the Boston Public Library announced today that its Chairman of the Board, Vivian K. Spiro stepped down on June 30, 2018, after serving for twenty years as head of the organization. She will be succeeded by Associates Board member Peter R. Brown.
During Spiro's tenure as Board Chairman she has overseen the Associates of the Boston Public Library’s evolution from a small, grass roots organization with a broad literary mission into a robust non-profit focused tightly upon conservation. Under her leadership, the Associates established the David McCullough Conservation Fund, the William O. Taylor Art Preservation Fund, and the Associates’ Endowment Fund; a writer-in-residence program for an emerging children’s author; three annual signature programs designed to spark public awareness of the BPL as a provider of top quality, free educational resources; and series of presentations by scholars aimed at generating interest in and support for conservation of the Special Collections. She has also helped organize and host the Associates’ annual Literary Lights celebration, an annual black tie dinner honoring outstanding writers from the Northeast that raises money for the McCullough Conservation Fund. Spiro's passion for libraries and learning has led the Associates to underwrite many exciting projects, ranging from conserving the original records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, to digitizing a vast and varied collection of anti-slavery records, including the papers of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society.
“Vivian’s dedication to the Library and education is inspiring,” said Associates’ Executive Director Louisa Stephens. “She has worked incessantly for two decades to make the public aware and appreciative of the BPL’s unique and irreplaceable, free educational resources: the Library’s Special Collections. As a tireless advocate of the Library, Vivian’s commitment has persuaded many others to follow suit. I am incredibly appreciative of her support and mentorship, and will miss her terribly.”
In acknowledgement of the impact of Spiro's chairmanship, the Associates plans to conserve etchings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778), one of the first, fundamental collections of works of art donated to the BPL's Print Department.
Prior to joining the Associates Board in 1998, Spiro served as an Overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts, a member of the Events Committee of the Boston Athenaeum and Chairman of the President’s Circle at Beth Israel Hospital. A former journalist and then owner-operator of a public relations firm specializing in medical and technical accounts, she later worked for Blackside Productions on "Eyes on the Prize II," the award winning Civil Rights documentary. Spiro and her husband Lionel are residents of Beacon Hill.
Peter R. Brown joined the Associates’ Board in 2012, and serves on the Associates’ Finance Committee, Review and Compensation Committee, and the Literary Lights Dinner Committee. During the last fiscal year, he was responsible for inspiring a Boston donor to make a $600,000 endowment gift to establish a named performance series tying in with the BPL’s Special Collections.
“I’m very pleased that the perfect candidate to succeed me has been chosen and unanimously voted in by the Associates Board,” said Spiro. “Though his sterling professional credentials and winning personality make him well suited to lead any organization, I believe that Peter Brown’s intellectual curiosity, commitment to preserving history, and respect for the written word will enable him to take the Associates to the next level. His innate sense of diplomacy and broad cultural bandwidth are also the very qualities a leader of our organization needs to positively engage many different constituencies in our work.”
Brown is a partner in Nutter’s Private Client Department, with a specialty in individual and family estate and tax planning and estate and trust administration. In addition to his more than thirty years practicing law, he is actively involved in Boston's cultural and philanthropic circles. He is trustee of the Brimmer and May School, where he also serves on the Development Committee, and a board member and officer of Moonbox Productions, Inc., a non-profit theater production company. A member of the Boston Bar Association and former chair of its Trusts and Estates Section, Brown is also former chair of the American Heart Association's Northeast Affiliate and Massachusetts Affiliate branches; a former member and moderator of the Steering Committee of the Boston Probate and Estate Planning Forum; and former chair and officer of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. He is currently the treasurer and secretary of the Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation and director, treasurer and secretary of the Helen and George Ladd Charitable Foundation. Peter and his wife Susan are residents of Waban, Massachusetts.
About the ASSOCIATES OF THE BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Associates of the Boston Public Library is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the Boston Public Library’s Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and other items of literary, historic and cultural significance. The Associates works to ensure continued public access to these irreplaceable treasures by underwriting their conservation, cataloging, digitization, and exhibition. Through these efforts, the Associates helps the Boston Public Library to achieve its fundamental mission of providing the highest level of free educational resources to the citizens of the Commonwealth, as well as preserving knowledge, culture, and history for the benefit of all.
Since its founding in 1972, the Associates has been the creator and underwriter of a wide array of programs, designed to heighten public awareness of the Boston Public Library’s vast free, educational resources. These programs have included Literary Lights; a Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award competition; art and architecture tours; readings; lectures; curatorial evenings designed to enhance public awareness of the Library’s holdings; exhibitions; musical performances; and discussions of current events featuring key decision makers. In addition, the Associates sponsors an annual Writer-in-Residence program. To learn more about the Associates, please visit www.AssociatesBPL.org, www.facebook.com/AssociatesBPL, www.twitter.com/AssociatesBPL or www.instagram.com/AssociatesBPL.
1) Vivian Spiro with David McCullough at her retirement party. Photo credit: Louisa Stephens
2) Peter Brown, Board Chairman of the Associates of the Boston Public Library. Photo courtesy of Nutter.