Robert Reilly spent 25 years in public service, beginning as a tank platoon leader in the 1st Squadron, 18th Armored Cavalry at Fort Washington in Washington state. After working in the private sector, Reilly returned to government service, first at the U.S. Information Agency, in the White House as a special assistant to President Reagan, and Senior Advisor for Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Berne, Switzerland, before coming to VOA. Reilly is also a lifelong devotee of classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries, and brought his interest and expertise to his work at both USIA and VOA.
Reilly served for a decade in the Office of Policy before his elevation to director. In that role, he hosted the program On the Line, during which he interviewed officials and scholars. He took over as director as VOA prepared to mark its 6oth anniversary. Reflecting music’s historically integral role at VOA, he instituted a series of live noontime concerts with notable artists, open to the public and broadcast globally. Reilly also presided over the 60th anniversary celebration at Voice of America that was headlined by President George W. Bush, who said to a worldwide audience, “Through a world war and a cold war, in crisis and in calm, the Voice of America has added to the momentum of freedom.”
After leaving VOA, Reilly was a key aide on information strategy to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and a senior advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Information during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has written a significant number of books, chapters, and articles throughout his public life.