Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill

Jacqueline Pfeffer Merrill is Vice President of Development 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 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.


  • “Telescopic Philanthropy” and our fellow citizens

    Every Christmas vacation I choose a “big book” to read, and this year I settled upon a rereading of Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. It was busy holiday season, and I didn’t finish Bleak House until snowbound for several days during January’s Snowzilla storm. Bleak House is justly regarded as Dickens’ richest, most complex novel. And […]

  • The Challenger disaster—and middle school reading lists

    This week we’ve been remembering the Challenger tragedy—a tragedy remembered keenly by nearly everyone over the age of 35. There are many memorable moments from that day—the astronauts waving goodbye as they boarded the shuttle, the Y-shaped cloud left after the explosion, the stricken expressions on the faces of teacher Christa McAuliffe’s parents. But among […]

  • Who gets admitted to public school enrichment programs?

    Three essays by the prospective student. Transcripts and test scores. Three letters of recommendation. A three-hour admissions exam. A college application? Nope. That’s what was required of our ten-year old son to be an applicant to a middle-school magnet program in our county’s public schools. On top of all the above, we had to submit […]

  • Social capital and community resilience

    Cataclysmic natural disasters seem to be the sort of events that demands a government response. Even classical liberals who favor tight limits on government’s role concede that responding to such disasters is a legitimate government purpose. And, surely we do need government to respond to such catastrophes. But three scholars at the Mercatus Center at […]

  • The virtue of gratitude

    Oliver Sacks—the neurologist and science writer best known and who died this year at age 82—left a last legacy in the four short, autobiographical essays reflecting on the final stage of his life. The first essay, “Mercury,” was written on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The other essays, (“My Own Life,” “My Periodic Table,” […]

  • Dickens’ Christmas Specters

    Charles Dickens is the English author we most closely associate with Christmas—so much so that when his death was reported, one young English girl is said to have exclaimed, “Dickens dead? Then will Father Christmas die too?” Dickens’ five Christmas novellas are full of ghosts, goblins, and phantoms—and are so because a great theme of […]

  • Can Mr. Smith – and the rest of us – reform U.S. prisons?

    There’s something mesmerizing in the tale of the fall of the powerful. So Jeff Smith’s new book Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, which recounts his fall from rising political star to felon serving a year and a day in federal prison is a riveting read. Jeff Smith was a Missouri state senator who had nearly […]

  • Douglass North and the Economics of Altruism

    An Economics 101 class presents a highly idealized version of economic activity, with purely self-interested actors buying and selling goods in the marketplace, with prices set purely by the laws of supply and demand. In Economics 101, there’s just a “market”—it’s not an American marketplace, or a European or sub-Saharan Africa marketplace, and it doesn’t […]

  • 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 […]

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