Julia Novy

Julia Novy 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, the Strategies for Sustainability Executive Program and an International Speaker Series. 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. She develops and teaches mindsets, knowledge and tools leaders need to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable and resilient society. These include understanding complex systems, leading organizational and systems change, and innovating at scale to reorient complex systems toward sustainability.

Ms. Novy is Founder and CEO of Resilience in Action, a private consultancy that provides comprehensive strategy and resilience building advisory services to executives and organizations. Resilience in Action leads resilience journeys to dynamic natural environments like the Peruvian Amazon, and partners with diverse organizations to enhance strategic clarity.

With 25 years’ experience leading non-profit and philanthropic organizations, Julia Novy is recognized for her innovative leadership in designing and scaling entrepreneurial solutions to global challenges that integrate economic, social and environmental objectives. As Executive Director of the Lemelson Foundation for a decade, Novy 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 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 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 was recognized as a distinguished Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She also served in 2010 as a Topic Leader for the Clinton Global Initiative on “Market-based solutions to environmental challenges.”

A Fulbright and Marshall Scholar, Novy speaks French, Spanish and Kiswahili, and has lived and worked extensively in developing countries, and for government agencies including the World Bank, USAID and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). She serves currently or has previously served on several boards, including the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board, the Editorial Board of MIT’s i>Innovations Journal, the World Affairs Council or Oregon, Karuna Foundation, Positive Luxury’s Sustainability Council and others. Her writing has been published in MIT’s Innovations Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, and other publications.

She was elected Phi Beta Kappa and earned a BA from Stanford University in Human Biology with Honors, and a Minor in African Studies. She holds an M.Phil. degree in International Development Studies from Sussex University, conferred with Distinction.

Publications and Videos

A Core Curriculum for Sustainability Leadership


Updated August 2022