Julie Packard, Founder and Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Julie Packard in the Great Tide Pool at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. ©Corey Arnold


"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 30 years we've introduced over 50 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."



Julie Packard is executive director of the acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium, an international leader in the field of ocean conservation, and a leading voice for science-based policy reform in support of a healthy ocean.

Julie helped found the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the late 1970s, and was inspired by her time exploring the tide pools with her sister. Julie has dedicated her life to conservation of the ocean in an effort to inspire others to care about and care for the sea and realize that our lives depend on the future of it.

Under her leadership, the Aquarium has pioneered innovative exhibits such as the kelp forest, one of the tallest aquarium exhibits in the world. The organization has been in the forefront in developing education initiatives to shape new generations of leaders in ocean conservation, and in 2019, the Aquarium will be opening its new Bechtel Family Center for Ocean Education and Leadership.

Julie has led the Aquarium to evolve into one of the nation's leading ocean conservation organizations through its Conservation and Science Programs. The respected Seafood Watch program empowers and educates consumers and businesses to make sustainable seafood choices for healthy oceans. The Ocean Conservation Policy team works to advance policies that address global threats and protect important marine life. In addition, field research 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.

Julie was a member of the Pew Oceans Commission and serves on the Joint Ocean 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.

Watch Julie's Story


Awards and Honors

2019: James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, The Tech Interactive

2018: American Food Hero, EatingWell

2017: “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food,” The Daily Meal 

2017: Honored by Governor Jerry Brown and Secretary of State Alex Padilla

2013: Named to California's Parks Forward Commission

2012: 25th Anniversary Food Heroes Award, Cooking Light

2010: Lifetime Achievement Award, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

2009: Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

2009: California Coastal Hero, California Coastal Commission and Sunset magazine.

1998: Audubon Medal for Conservation



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