News Releases
Denis Prager Named Interim Executive Director of The Lemelson Foundation
January 13, 2011


Portland, Ore.—January 13, 2011—Denis J. Prager, Ph.D., who has served as strategic consultant to The Lemelson Foundation for over fifteen years, will become Interim Executive Director of the Foundation following the departure of Julia Novy-Hildesley this month. After leading The Lemelson Foundation for nine years, Novy-Hildesley recently announced that she will step down as Executive Director, effective January 28, 2011. In February, she will begin her new position as Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle-based Washington STEM, a new non-profit organization catalyzing innovation and accelerating improvements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education throughout Washington state. 

“This was a difficult decision,” said Novy-Hildesley at the time of her resignation. “It has been a privilege to work under the leadership of The Lemelson Foundation’s visionary Board and Advisors, and alongside such a talented and dedicated staff. I am confident that The Lemelson Foundation will continue to deepen its impact well into the future through collaborations with its innovative U.S. and global partners.”

Founded in 1994 by prolific inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, The Lemelson Foundation has expanded its reach over the past decade—nearly doubling its annual grantmaking and directly investing in social enterprises that provide income-generating opportunities in developing countries, while continuing to expand its U.S. programs, established to foster creativity and celebrate the inventive spirit. 

“Under Julia’s guidance, the Foundation has played a significant role in cultivating the next generation of inventors with a strengthened focus on improving the lives of underserved individuals both at home and abroad,” said Mrs. Dorothy Lemelson, President and Board Chair. “We also are fortunate to have Denis stepping in as Interim Director. He has tremendous experience and has been instrumental to the Foundation’s success.”

Dr. Prager, who runs a strategic consulting firm focused on foundations, has played a key role in the creation and development of The Lemelson Foundation. He previously held positions with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. “It won’t be easy following in Julia’s footsteps,” Prager said of his new role. “However, the Foundation board is fully engaged and the staff, whom Julia has hired, are of the highest caliber. Together, I’m confident that we can uphold the high standards of productivity and excellence she set.”

The search for a new Executive Director is currently underway. Waldron & Company is guiding the process and more information will be available at

About The Lemelson Foundation

The Lemelson Foundation uses its resources to inspire, encourage and recognize inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to support invention-led economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. It has donated or committed more than $150 million in support of its mission to improve lives through invention in the U.S. and developing countries.