Hartigan will join the centre, part of the Said Business School at Oxford University, in January. She was a founding partner and is currently director of social innovation consultancy Volans.
She succeeds Rowena Young, who is leaving to become programme director of social innovation and finance at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.
"The Skoll Centre is in a unique position to convene both researchers and practitioners - not just once a year at the Skoll World Forum, but all year round," said Hartigan. "What further attracted me was the chance to work with future leaders, particularly those currently doing MBAs."