Chicago—Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) announced today that after a nationwide search its board of directors has selected Dr. Melissa Merrick (right) as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer. Merrick brings more than 18 years of clinical, research and leadership experience related to the etiology, course and prevention of child abuse and neglect. Merrick currently serves as a senior epidemiologist at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will begin with PCA America on July 15.
“We’re pleased to have found an individual so uniquely qualified to assume leadership of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization focused on the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect,” said PCA America Board Chair Andrea Robertson. “Dr. Merrick has strategically framed the prevention of early adversity as an urgent public health need, directly connected to positive child welfare, social and economic outcomes in her work at CDC. We’re thrilled she’ll be leading the next chapter of PCA America’s important work.”
“PCA America’s dedication to abuse and neglect prevention through the promotion of safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and its network of state chapters can propel true data-driven prevention action,” explained Merrick. “This infrastructure and the organization’s evidence-based approach are among the critical factors that will advance the next generation of prevention work and ensure the conditions for strong and thriving children, families and communities across the country. I’m eager to begin this exciting new journey.”
Merrick will succeed Dan Duffy, a former two-term Illinois state senator and entrepreneur, who has led PCA America since 2016, a period of successful growth and change for the organization. Duffy announced in January that he would transition out of the chief executive role to start a government affairs consulting firm focused on strengthening American families.
“Dr. Merrick’s scientific and content expertise, strong relationships and partnerships and national leadership in the public health approach to prevention position her well to increase PCA America’s visibility and impact in the years to come,” according to Duffy. “I look forward to continuing to work with her and all of the organization’s talented and dedicated staff on behalf of our nation’s children and families.”
Merrick received her BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s and doctoral degrees from San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego. Merrick also completed two years of postdoctoral training at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine’s Child Protection Team before joining CDC nine years ago. Merrick is married and has two young children who keep her grounded, thankful and hopeful for a brighter future for all children.
About Prevent Child Abuse America
Founded in 1972, Prevent Child Abuse America is a national organization with chapters in 48 states and nearly 600 Healthy Families America home visiting sites throughout the country. It promotes services that improve child well-being and develops programs that help to prevent all types of abuse and neglect. Prevent Child Abuse America is rated as one of the top charities for children by Consumer Reports and numerous charity oversight organizations, including Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits and GuideStar.