Julia Novy-Hildesley is Professor of the Practice and Executive Director of Stanford's Change Leadership for Sustainability Program, which includes the Sustainability Science and Practice Interdisciplinary Masters degree. Her research and teaching focus on business strategies, leadership approaches and cross-sector partnerships that spur global development and align systems with the goal of intergenerational well-being. The Change Leadership Program explores the mindsets, knowledge and tools leaders need to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and resilient society. These include understanding complex systems, leading organizational change, and innovating in complex systems at scale in order to shift sub-optimal status quo orientations toward sustainability. The Strategies for Sustainability Stanford Professional Program offers online and in-person business and leadership courses to unpack the core mindsets, knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainability and resilience in today’s complex environment. Students can earn a Stanford Strategies for Sustainability Certificate through this interactive program. Enroll today:

With 20 years’ experience leading non-profit and philanthropic organizations, Julia Novy-Hildesley is recognized for her innovative leadership in designing and scaling entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges that integrate economic, social and environmental objectives. In 2013, she founded Resilience in Action, dedicated to helping 21st century leaders cultivate resilience in their lives, organizations and sectors. Resilience in Action leads resilience journeys to dynamic natural environments like the Peruvian Amazon, and partners with diverse organizations to enhance strategic clarity.

As Executive Director of the Lemelson Foundation for nearly a decade, Novy-Hildesley was responsible for guiding over $100 million of investment in new technology, inventors and social enterprises in the U.S and developing countries. She and her team designed and applied creative financing strategies, such as first-loss capital, to enable the Foundation’s philanthropic resources to leverage traditional capital from more risk-averse national and international banks. These collaborative investments supported inventor-entrepreneurs who created clean energy technologies, clean water solutions, health innovations and agricultural tools that served the needs of those living on less than $3 per day, building businesses that created jobs, increased incomes, and improved livelihoods in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

As Director of World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Pacific Marine Office, Novy-Hildesley collaborated with colleagues at Unilever and WWF to help 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 with products now widely available in Walmart, Safeway, Target and other major retailers. As CEO of Washington STEM, Novy-Hildesley worked with Microsoft, Boeing, and the education community to bring business into the classroom and cultivate 21st century skills for underserved youth.

In 2010, Novy-Hildesley was recognized as a distinguished Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and served as a Topic Leader for the Clinton Global Initiative on “Market-based solutions to environmental challenges.”

A Fulbright and Marshall Scholar, Novy-Hildesley speaks French, Spanish and Kiswahili, and has lived and worked extensively in developing countries for agencies, including the World Bank, USAID 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.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Young Global Leader, World Economic Forum (2010-2016)
  • Topic Leader: "Market-based Solutions to Environmental Challenges", Clinton Global Initiative (2010)
  • Forty Leading Business People Under the age of 40, Portland Business Journal (2008)
  • 50 Great Leaders for Oregon, Oregon Business Magazine (2005)
  • Donella Meadows Sustainability Leader, Sustainability Leaders Network and Fellowship (2004-2005)
  • Marshall Scholar, U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (1995-1997)
  • Fulbright Scholar, U.S. Department of State (1993-1994)
  • Joshua Lederberg Award for Outstanding Achievement in Human Biology, Stanford University (1993)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Board Member, Harvard Women's Leadership Board (2008 - 2010)
  • Editorial Board Member, MIT Innovations Journal (2003 - 2010)
  • Board Member & Advisory Council Member, World Affairs Council of Oregon (2004 - 2010)
  • Board Member, Karuna Foundation (2011 - Present)

Professional Education

  • 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)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Transformative leadership, systems change, sustainability, resilience.

All Publications

  • By the Grace of Invention MIT Innovations Journal Novy-Hildesley, J. 2009
  • Social Entrepreneurship Yields High Returns Far Eastern Economic Review Novy-Hildesley, J. 2007
  • From Idea to Impact: Funding Invention for Sustainability MIT Innovations Journal Novy-Hildesley, J. 2006
  • Chapter 12: Community-based certification: A Route to Sustainable Fisheries Eco-Labeling in Fisheries: What is it all about? Novy-Hildesley, J., Short, K. Wiley. 2003
  • Medicinal Plants of the Eastern Region of Madagascar Journal of Ethnopharmacology Novy, J. 1997; 55 (2): 119-126