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Sustainability Accelerator announces first executive director

Charlotte Pera, a veteran of major climate-focused organizations, returns to Stanford in July to co-lead the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability’s Accelerator.

Charlotte Pera will become executive director of the Sustainability Accelerator at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability, joining faculty director Yi Cui at the helm of the school’s launchpad for scalable solutions to sustainability challenges. 

With decades of experience in nonprofits and large philanthropies focused on climate solutions, Pera is well positioned to co-lead the Accelerator’s efforts to speed the translation of Stanford research into technology and policies that help improve the quality of human life on our planet.

Charlotte Pera portrait
Charlotte Pera

“The school is truly fortunate to have Charlotte joining Yi in leading the Sustainability Accelerator,” said Dean Arun Majumdar. “She is a globally recognized leader in fostering innovative solutions to sustainability challenges, and her expertise will be critical in carrying forward the Accelerator’s progress.”

Of note, the Accelerator has awarded multiple rounds of grant funding over the past year, and announced its first Flagship Destination, which involves channeling resources toward projects that can help enable the removal of billions of tons of greenhouse gases annually from Earth’s atmosphere by the middle of this century. “The Accelerator enjoys tremendous momentum toward its mission of catalyzing ideas into sustainability solutions,” Majumdar said. 

“I am excited to return to Stanford after working for more than 30 years to advance clean energy, sustainability, and climate solutions globally,” Pera said. “The Sustainability Accelerator will ensure solutions developed by the university’s extraordinary faculty, staff, and students are launched with the commitment to speed, scale, and equitable benefits that today’s global challenges demand. I look forward to working with Dean Majumdar, Professor Cui, and the entire team to ensure the Accelerator is a great success.”

Deep experience

Pera comes to Stanford from the Bezos Earth Fund, where she served as vice president and deputy CEO. In that role, Pera and colleagues worked closely with the fund’s founders, Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez, to disburse the fund’s entire $10 billion endowment by the year 2030 with a focus on fighting the climate crisis and protecting and restoring nature, with attention to global equity. 

Before her time at the Bezos Earth Fund, Pera served for nearly a decade as president and CEO of ClimateWorks Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit working globally to maximize philanthropy’s impact on climate change through strategic advisory services, convening, and grantmaking. In 2023, she was named one of the 50 most powerful women in U.S. philanthropy. 

Pera holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford. She serves on the advisory board of the 100x Impact Accelerator at the London School of Economics, the governing board of the International Council for Clean Transportation, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Philanthropy for Climate and Nature. She is a senior fellow with the Bezos Earth Fund and with the Mission Possible Partnership. 

Yi Cui

“I’m excited to work with Charlotte to grow and advance the Sustainability Accelerator together. We share complementary priorities, experiences, and skill sets that, I believe, will total something greater than the sum of its parts,” said Cui, the Fortinet Founders Professor in the School of Engineering and a professor of energy science and engineering in the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. “She is an impressive leader with demonstrated impact on sustainability. I look forward to exploring the most promising ideas in sustainability with her and to speed global solutions for generations to come.”

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