About the Founder
Jewlya Lynn is a facilitator, advisor, and researcher focused on helping leaders around the world tackle wicked problems – the social and cultural problems that have been intractable due to their complex and interconnected nature. She began this work over 20 years ago managing a project to transform the social services, juvenile justice, and education systems in response to the Columbine school shooting.
Building on that experience, she founded Spark Policy Institute and led a team focused on developing innovative, research-based approaches to help communities and policymakers solve complex societal problems that defy easy solutions. After transitioning Spark to new leadership, she’s now working directly with leaders throughout the United States and around the world on issues that affect us all, from climate change and nuclear security to human rights and building healthy ecosystems.
Jewlya is an innovator, focused on developing practical tools and processes that help people unpack complexity, explore the many potential futures ahead, ask powerful questions, and find answers. Her emergent strategy stories and tools, learning models, evaluation frameworks, foresight tools, and other planning tools have been published by the Foundation Review and the Center for Evaluation Innovation and her developmental evaluation and emergent planning toolkits have been widely used.
Jewlya has served as a facilitator, researcher, and strategy partner to major US and international initiatives, including the National Science Foundation’s EarthCube initiative (building cyber infrastructure in the hard sciences for the 21st century), N Square (the cross-roads for nuclear security innovation), Horizon 2045 (an audacious project to end the nuclear weapons century), Humanity United and the Freedom Fund’s joint effort to end slavery in the seafood industry, ClimateWorks sustainable finance initiative, the Ford Foundation and Atlantic Philanthropies’ global Narrative Initiative (dedicated to building fairer, more inclusive societies), and Imaginable Future’s work to transform education systems in Kenya and Brazil, among many others.
Jewlya was also a faculty member for the Presidio Institute’s Cross Sector Fellowship Program, a program the Institute designed in partnership with BlackRock, McKinsey and Company, and the Obama White House Office of Social Innovation. She has a Ph.D. in public affairs from the University of Colorado and started her career at the Colorado and Nebraska legislatures.
Outside of her work, Jewlya loves exploring the outdoors with her children in all weather – biking, hiking, snowboarding, backpacking, and ice skating on a lake in the mountains. Talk about fun challenges!
Drawing on decades of systems change practice, this newly documented framework from PolicySolve is designed to bridge complexity thinking with more traditional systems thinking models, making systems thinking more accessible and more actionable.
This article debunks the myths that keep philanthropy from exploring and questioning how change is really happening. Co-authored with Julia Coffman (Center for Evaluation Innovation) and Sarah Stachowiak (ORS Impact).
This article seeks to offer a new way of thinking about strategy resilience that centers people and organizations instead of the power of financial resources. At the core of this theory is the assumption that given today’s complexities, philanthropy must use its power differently — releasing control over organizations and their change strategies while using its unique position, reach, and voice to work in solidarity with community leaders.
This 45 minute video included in MacMaster University's innovation series will introduce you to the decolonized foresight tools that can strengthen emergent strategies.
A rigorous study co-authored with Sarah Stachowiak to understand when and how collective impact contributes to systems and population change.
A set of tools to help foundations design adaptive strategies and ideas for balancing accountability for achieving goals with adaptability throughout the course of an initiative, co-authored with Erica Snow and Tanya Beer.
An exploration of how to integrate strategic learning into a grant strategy, including supporting learning coaches for 14 of their grantees, co-authored with Phillip Chung, Scott Downes, and Rebecca Kahn.