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Julia Novy

Professor of the Practice, Change Leadership for Sustainability
Julia Novy is co-founder and co-director of the Sustainability Science and Practice (SUST) MS/MA program, created through interdisciplinary collaboration with faculty and global leaders in industry, government and civil society. She is Professor of the Practice and Executive Director of Stanford's Change Leadership for Sustainability Program, dedicated to preparing international executives and interdisciplinary master's students to implement proven approaches to advancing sustainability at scale. Core curricular areas include understanding complex systems, decision-making in uncertain contexts, leading systemic change, and driving innovation at scale through partnerships, policy, market-based approaches and technology innovation.

Novy's research and teaching focus on business strategies, leadership approaches, and transdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships that spur global development and align systems with the goal of intergenerational well-being. With over 25 years of experience launching and leading non-profit and philanthropic organizations and programs, Julia is recognized for her innovative leadership in designing and scaling entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges that integrate economic, social and environmental objectives.

As the founding Executive Director of the Lemelson Foundation, Novy developed the foundation's vision, strategy and international programs and was responsible for guiding over $200 million of investment in new technology, inventors and social enterprises in the U.S., Africa, Asia and Latin America. She developed innovative financing mechanisms to back new innovators and entrepreneurs and leveraged traditional capital and funding from major foundations to support sustainable innovations in clean energy, water, health, and agriculture that served the needs of those living on less than $3 per day.

As founding Director of World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Pacific Marine Office, Novy collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, government, philanthropy and civil society to develop and launch the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a global partnership that uses third-party certification and eco-labeling to transform fisheries supply chains into sources of sustainable seafood. She innovated and directed the Community Fisheries Program, enabling small-scale and indigenous community fisheries to access certification and the associated financial and market benefits. Today, over 10% of global fisheries are certified and products are widely available in Walmart, Safeway, Target and other major retailers.

As founding CEO of Washington STEM, Novy launched a state-wide program with millions of dollars of funding from Microsoft, Boeing, and the Gates Foundation to partner with the academic community to bring STEM education and business imperatives into the classroom to cultivate 21st century skills for underserved youth.

In 2010, Novy was honored as a distinguished Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in recognition of her global contributions through effective partnerships to advancing sustainability. She was selected as Topic Leader for the Clinton Global Initiative “Market-based solutions to environmental challenges” in recognition of her international leadership in advancing market- and technology-based sustainability solutions.

A Fulbright and Marshall Scholar, Novy speaks French, Spanish and Kiswahili, and has lived and worked extensively in Africa, Asia and Latin America and with diverse partners, including the World Bank, USAID, the Corporate EcoForum, GreenBiz, the Ocean Plastics Leadership Network, and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). Her writing has been published in in Innovations Journal, Far Eastern Economic Review, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, and other publications.


B.A., Stanford University, Human Biology (1993)
Minor, Stanford University, African Studies (1993)
M.Phil., University of Sussex, Institute for Development Studies, International Development Studies (1997)