Executive Director and Vice Chair of the Aquarium's Board of Trustees
Julie Packard is executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which she helped found in the late 1970s. She is an international leader in the field of ocean conservation, and a leading voice for science-based policy reform in support of a healthy ocean.
"I grew up exploring California's amazing natural places, and I'm just one of many who have drawn inspiration from this very special piece of ocean. It's been my privilege and great fun to lead our team here at the Aquarium, where in the past 35 years we've introduced over 60 million people to the incredible ocean life just off our coast and in the vast ocean beyond. We'll never run out of stories to tell about this place but, more and more, they'll be about people, not fish — how humans are taking action to protect and restore the ocean that sustains us all."
Under her leadership, the Aquarium has pioneered innovative exhibits and education initiatives, and has evolved into one of the nation's leading ocean conservation organizations through its respected Seafood Watch program, its activities on behalf of ocean policy reform, and field research that is illuminating the conservation challenges facing sea otters, great white sharks and Pacific bluefin tuna in the wild.
Julie is also a leader in ocean conservation worldwide, and brings a lifelong passion for the natural world to her service with many organizations dedicated to conservation activities. She is a trustee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and chairs the Board of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), a world leader in deep-ocean science and technology. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she's the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Audubon Medal for Conservation, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's Lifetime Achievement Award and the California Coastal Commission's Coastal Hero award. In 2013, she was appointed to California's Parks Forward Commission to craft a vision and blueprint for the future of a state park system serving 38 million Californians.
In 2019, she became only the second woman in the marine sciences and conservation — along with Rachel Carson — to be the subject of a commissioned portrait for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Julie was a member of the Pew Oceans Commission and serves on the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, where she works to implement comprehensive reform of U.S. ocean policy. She has addressed ocean issues as a featured speaker at international conferences, including the World Trade Organization, the International Aquarium Congress and the Seafood Summit.
A marine biologist, Julie earned both a bachelor's degree and master's degree in biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on marine algae.