Festival organizers announced Tuesday that Campion will succeed Steven Spielberg, who led the jury last year.
New Zealander Campion was awarded the Palme d'Or prize in 1993 for "The Piano," and earlier won Cannes' top short film award.
While several women have presided the jury before, most films presented have been directed by men.
Festival director Gilles Jacob, in a statement, describes Campion as "a true master," who wowed juries with films "shot through with such courage and humanity and captured such a unique world."
Campion, looking ahead to the May 14-25 festival, said: "I can't wait."