Frances Westley

The J.W. McConnell chair in social innovation
Frances Westley

Frances Westley joined the University of Waterloo as the J.W. McConnell Chair in social innovation in July 2007. In this capacity she is one of the principle leads in a Canada wide initiative in social innovation, Social Innovation Generation (SiG) a cross sectoral partnership to build capacity for social innovation in Canada funded by the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, University of Waterloo and the Ontario government. 

At the University of Waterloo, she leads a research team dedicated to understanding social innovation, and has designed both graduate and undergraduate curricula in social innovation.

Frances Westley is a renowned scholar and consultant in the areas of social innovation, strategies for sustainable development, strategic change, visionary leadership and inter-organizational collaboration. Her most recent book, Getting to Maybe (Random House, 2006) focuses the dynamics of social innovation, and institutional entrepreneurship in complex adaptive systems. Experiments in Consilience (Island Press, 2004) focuses on the dynamics of inter-organizational and interdisciplinary collaboration in the management of ecological and conservation problems.

Before joining the University of Waterloo, Frances Westley held the position of director, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies (2005-2007) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Other positions she has previously held include the James McGill Professor of Strategy at McGill University’s Faculty of Management, director of the McGill-Dupont Initiative on social innovation and director of the McGill-McConnell Masters program for National Voluntary Sector leaders – an innovative executive masters customized for the leaders of voluntary organizations across Canada.

Frances Westley serves on numerous advisory boards including Resilience Alliance Board of Science, World Conservation Union-Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, the Stockholm Resilience Center, the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) and Evergreen Canada. She is on the editorial board of several journals, including Journal of Applied Behavioral Science and Ecology and Society. She is the recipient of several awards including the Ulysses S. Seal award for innovation in conservation and the Corporate Knights Award.