Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is the Executive Director of the Fund for Academic Renewal, a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. She has been an adviser to Washington think tanks and educational nonprofit organizations. Prior to her work in the nonprofit sector, Jacqueline served on the faculties of St. John's College and the College of William & Mary. She has published articles about political philosophy, social issues, and bioethics in journals such as The New Atlantis, Society, and Philanthropy.

Jacqueline earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and her B.A., also in political science, from The University of Calgary.

Jacqueline is member of the board of the Advocates for the Goucher Prison Education Partnership, and she has taught in the college program at Maryland's only prison for women. She lives with her husband and their children in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Read all posts published by Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill.


  • Discretionary Philanthropy? It’s the Only Kind.

    Philanthropy is sometimes described as a way to “give back”—to make good on having done well through supporting others. Since we cannot flourish apart the social and civic institutions that ensure our freedom and create the possibility of prosperity, it seems right that those who have prospered might owe something back to their community. And, […]

  • The EpiPen crisis and “philanthropy”

    The controversy about the dramatic price hike in EpiPens—548% since 2007—by drugmaker Mylan has made headlines. I’ve paid close attention to this controversy, since I’m one of the millions of Americans who relies on EpiPens for life-saving adrenaline to halt allergic reactions (in my case, a peanut allergy). Given that 3.6 million Epipen prescriptions were […]

  • Philanthropy and the National Parks

    This week marks the centennial of the National Park Service: On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, which established the National Park Service. The National Parks Service followed by many years the establishment of the first national parks: Yellowstone National Park was the first national park, established by Congress in 1872. […]

  • Dressing Down, from Soldiers to Starbucks

    One can hardly think of two more different jobs than U.S. soldier and Starbucks barista. Yet men and women in these very different jobs gained new freedom to dress down on the job in the last month: Soldiers may now roll up the sleeve of their camouflage uniforms, while Starbucks employees can now wear some […]

  • Philanthropy and Democracy

    We often think of philanthropy as simply making a positive contribution to the life of the republic. But so-called “big philanthropy”—philanthropy carried out on the grandest scale by the wealthiest individuals and foundations—has a complicated place in a democracy like ours. University of Michigan public policy professor Megan E. Tompkins-Stange examines whether out-sized gifts lend […]

  • Small-town museums, big time impacts

    Elbow, Saskatchewan—a funny name for a village, so named because it is on the “elbow” of the South Saskatchewan River. To get to Elbow, you have to turn off of the road to the village of Eyebrow, named for an eyebrow-shaped moraine on its outskirts. I know about Elbow and Eyebrow because Elbow is my […]

  • An Aristocratic America?

    America is the great democratic experiment, but it has been transformed into an aristocracy. And it’s not an aristocracy of the “one percent.” In fact, many of the “one percenters” are entrepreneurs who have risen from modest beginnings to the very top echelons of wealth and influence, and thereby reinforced the democratic American dream. Instead, […]

  • The Fort McMurray Wildfire, philanthropy, and government

    The U.S. press largely overlooked the harrowing story of the Fort McMurray wildfire, in my home province of Alberta, Canada, which burned for the first week in May. Not that the U.S. press is unacquainted with Fort McMurray, home to the Alberta oil sands that are frequently derided for contributing to climate change. The fire […]

  • Inequality and An American Tragedy

    Inequality is the watchword of this election season, as candidates of both parties respond to—and build their candidacies upon—anger about increasing income disparities and the sense that economic opportunities for many ordinary Americans are disappearing while the wealthy become every wealthier. It is no mean feat to discern what rising inequality means for American society—why, […]

  • How the other half lives today

    In 1890, Jacob Riis’ How The Other Half Lives shocked readers with its detailed descriptions of squalid living conditions of New York’s poor. Made vivid by Riis’ account of the situations of particular families and photographs of squalor, Riis’ book changed the general public’s understanding of how the working poor lived—and it changed in the […]

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