As Program Officer for the Health Living focus area, Merry leads the Foundation’s efforts to improve the health and well-being of North Carolinians working in a variety of ways to ultimately ensure that all our communities have access to healthy, local food and safe places to be active.
Merry joined the BCBSNC Foundation in 2016. She is a seasoned strategist, program designer, project manager, evaluator and communicator. She has been working for more than 20 years to improve health and well-being throughout the country with leading foundations, universities and research organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, Duke University, RTI International and as an independent consultant to foundations, nonprofit organizations and health systems. She has focused on a variety of health issues including long-term care, palliative and end-of-life care, health care quality and consumer health care decision-making. Merry earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
What I love about my work:
I am deeply committed to creating meaningful change to help people lead their healthiest lives, in North Carolina, across our country, and in the larger world. Equally, I believe that collaboration is key for creating effective and lasting change. Here at the Foundation, I love that, at the end of the day, I get to create partnerships with an incredible variety of organizations to develop and implement solutions to help empower North Carolinians to do more of what’s truly good for all of us–body, mind and soul: more getting outside, more moving, and more eating great, healthy food.
When not at my desk:
Isn’t it wonderful how North Carolina has four distinct seasons, each with its own special gifts? I like to celebrate the return of spring by visiting farmer’s markets and outdoor music performances. In the summer months, you’ll find me with my husband and two daughters playing on the beach at Topsail Island—my longtime favorite NC beach. Fall calls us to the mountains to hike and marvel at the changing leaves, while winter means just enough snow for just a couple of days of good sledding. Year-round, we take advantage of living near the Eno River by hiking, swimming and enjoying that gorgeous setting. And when time or weather keeps me indoors, I enjoy overcoming my fear of heights at aerial dance class.
Favorite thing about North Carolina:
Just one thing? Impossible! North Carolina is my adopted home state. I fell in love with its beauty, its people, and its warm culture when, as a child, I visited relatives who lived here. It is where I chose to go to college and—after living in some other pretty incredible places—it is where I chose to return to raise my family. I treasure the long growing season here, the abundance of fresh, local foods, and the entrepreneurial drive and passion of our local growers and other food entrepreneurs for connecting more North Carolinians to healthy food—including me! One thing’s for sure: Our state has the best of everything to offer. How lucky are we?