In his bequest in 1832, the Quaker merchant James Wills created a trust to establish the “Wills Hospital for the Relief of the Indigent Blind & Lame” to be administered by the “M​ayor and Corporation of the City of Philadelphia.” In 1869, the Pennsylvania legislature established the Board of Directors of City Trusts for the purpose of administering all funds left in trust to the City of Philadelphia, including that of James Wills. 

Today, Wills Eye is overseen by the Board of Directors of City Trusts and the Wills Eye Committee, a standing committee of Board Members dedicated to the mission of Wills Eye. Day-to-day operations are managed by the Chief Executive Officer and the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief.

Board of Directors of City Trusts

The Board of City Trusts is a group of dedicated Philadelphia civic leaders appointed by and accountable to the Judges of the Courts of Common Pleas of Philadelphia. Membership consists of 12 citizens of Philadelphia and the Mayor and the President of City Council, who serve Ex-Officio. The board serves without compensation.

The Wills Eye Committee oversees all matters relating to Wills Eye. The Executive Director and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of Wills consult with the Chairman of the Wills Eye Committee on matters of policy, organizational changes, and major operational issues.

Wills Eye Committee

The Wills Eye Committee of the Board of Directors of City Trusts is comprised of Board Members who are charged with the direct supervision of Wills Eye's executive management. These Board Members bring their extensive experience and talents to the stewardship of Wills Eye.

The committee members are:

Bernard W. Smalley Esq., Board President
Dominic A. Sabatini, Committee Chair
Michael Meehan, Esq.
Hon. Mark F. Squilla
Hon. Michael Stack

Bernard W. Smalley Sr.
President, Board of Directors of City Trusts
Chairman, Wills Eye Committee

Mr. Bernard Smalley, who has served as the Board's Vice President and Chair of the Girard College Committee since 2012, succeeds the late Ronald M. Donatucci, who died on November 3, 2021. Smalley's is a uniquely Philadelphia success story.  The son of a West Philadelphia barber, he grew up in the presence of some of the city's greatest legal minds who frequented his father's barbershop: William H. Hastie, the first African-American to serve as chief judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals; Ronald Davenport, who became Dean of Duquesne University Law School; and H. Patrick Swygert, later President of Howard University.  As a child, Smalley was a witness to the civil rights movement of the 1960s in Philadelphia, where the Girard case was a major focus.

Upon his graduation from Temple, Smalley worked as an administrator for the Court of Common Pleas while also attending Widener University Law School at night.  Upon his graduation in 1980, Smalley clerked for the Hon. Stanley M. Greenberg, then began his career as a trial attorney advocating on behalf of victims of corporate or professional negligence.  Representing plaintiffs in some of the city's highest profile cases, Smalley was a partner at the Anapol Schwartz law firm for nearly 30 years before eventually becoming a partner at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer in 2016.

Designated as a Pennsylvania Superlawyer on multiple occasions over the last 20 years, Smalley has earned numerous other professional awards during the course of his legal career, including his induction as a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, as well as the 2008 Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence.  He is a past president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia.

In addition to his service on the Board of City Trusts, Smalley is a Board member of the Urban Affairs Coalition, the Widener University School of Law, the Ellis Trust, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and The Philadelphia Tribune. Additionally, he is a member of Sigma Phi Pi fraternity (Alpha Boule) and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP.