Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is a program officer at 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 a board member for the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women College Program Foundation, and she has taught in the college program at Maryland's only prison for women. She lives with her husband and their children in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Read all posts published by Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill.


  • Democracy, Philanthropy, and School Reform

    Reforming public education is hard—really hard. Dale Russakoff details the challenges in The Prize: Who’s In Charge of America’s Schools, her justly acclaimed examination of what went awry when Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Governor Chris Christy, and Facebook founder and philanthropist Mark Zuckerberg came together to attempt “transformation” reform of Newark’s dismal public school system. […]

  • Big-Scale Philanthropy, Small-Scale Philanthropy, and The New York Times

    This past Sunday’s New York Times included a special section titled “Giving” that showcases a certain elite view of philanthropy as a big-scale, progressive enterprise. The front page says it all: No more small ball: Now the big foundations are going for systemic change, taking on hot-button (and progressive) issues like inequality, injustice and global […]

  • The Challenges of Helping Our Brightest Students

    Last week brought headlines that new results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show U.S. students losing ground in reading and mathematics. Average scores in mathematics fell, while average scores in reading fell for eighth-graders and held level for fourth graders. And the number of students who haven’t mastered the basics is shocking, as […]

  • Students Still Need the “Sage on the Stage”… But Why?

    In the last few days a fierce battle has been waged among professors about whether the lecture still has an important role in undergraduate education. This tempest might seem to be a perfect illustration of the claim that academics fight fierce battles over the smallest of stakes. However, in this case, I think the stakes […]

  • The Moral Worth of Extreme Philanthropy

    It’s praiseworthy to be a philanthropist, in the largest sense of being someone who loves and serves his fellow man, right? Or is that so only up to a point—are there those who do so much that it’s a sign not of virtue but some sort of mental or moral derangement? Larissa MacFarquhar explores these […]

  • Physician as Fundraiser?

    Oncologists are often called upon to speak with patients to deliver big news: sometimes the good news that treatment is working; other times, that treatment hasn’t checked the cancer. But, increasingly, oncologists—and presumably other medical specialists—are being called upon to speak with patients not to deliver big news but to make the big ask: to […]

  • Silicon Valley’s philanthropists and the Syrian migrants

    Silicon Valley’s wealthy denizens are among the country’s leading philanthropists. And they have distinctive philanthropic preferences, favoring “metrics-driven” philanthropy that ensures philanthropists achieve the greatest benefit possible for each philanthropic dollar. Sounds great—who doesn’t want the greatest benefit? To have made things better—maybe even “all better”? The desire to make things “all better” has driven […]

  • Less freedom, less philanthropy?

    America’s economy continues to become less free, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, which was released last week. And that has important implications for American philanthropy. When the Fraser Institute, with key input from Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, first published the Economic Freedom of the World index in 1996, […]

  • Understated Philanthropy

    Philanthropists bring many great goods to America—but it also can seem, in some cases, that philanthropists seek to bring attention to themselves as much as to the causes that they support. It’s not just that many philanthropists fund eponymous foundations and put their name on the music halls and college dormitories they fund. Many museums […]

  • Charles Murray’s Lockean philanthropic proposal

    On my very rough analysis, there are two basic types of libertarians. The first type is the Nietzschean type—those whose approach seems to be premised on the thought “I can look after myself so why don’t you do the same.” You knew this type in college—they’re the ones who toted around copies of Beyond Good […]

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