Robert Reilly spent more than 25 years in public service, beginning as a platoon leader in the 1st Squadron, 18th Armored Cavalry. 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 Ronald Reagan, and as 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 was on the air daily reading the VOA editorials. He took over as director as the events of 9/11 galvanized VOA into action, including the establishment of a successful Afghan national radio project. Reflecting music’s historically integral role at VOA, Reilly instituted a series of live noontime concerts with notable artists, open to the public and broadcast globally. He 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 Senior Advisor for Information Strategy to the U.S. Secretary of Defense and served as senior advisor to the Iraq Ministry of Information during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When he left the Department of Defense, he taught at the College of International Security Affairs at National Defense University. Before rejoining VOA in 2020, Reilly was the Director of the Westminster Institute, headquartered in northern Virginia. He has written a significant number of books, chapters, monographs, and articles on a wide variety of subjects, including public diplomacy.
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