July / 2017

JMF Announces Leadership Changes

The John Merck Fund Trustees announce that after twenty-nine years of exemplary leadership, Executive Director Ruth Hennig is stepping down effective September 29, 2017.

Ruth was the foundation’s first staff person when she joined in 1988 to work with longtime Board Chair Frank Hatch. During her tenure, she has helped shape and implement JMF’s grantmaking programs, facilitated the next generation’s increasing involvement and eventual leadership succession, and managed the foundation’s ten-year spendout, which will conclude in 2022.

JMF Board Chair Serena H. Whitridge remembers that “my father, Frank Hatch, had an uncanny ability to surround himself with good people. In Ruth, he found an incredible ally with a laser-like focus to help JMF fulfill its mission.” Almost thirty years later, Ms. Whitridge continued, “Unflappable, Ruth has always been steady at the helm for the Board, the staff, and her peers.”

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to contribute to the positive and often hard-fought changes that JMF has made in the world,” said Ruth. “I leave JMF with mixed emotions but know that this is the right time to begin my next chapter.  I also know that JMF is strongly positioned to continue having impacts in protecting human health and the environment during its final five years.”

JMF is also pleased to announce that the foundation’s Director of Programs, Christine James, will become its second Executive Director.

If there are questions during this transition period, please do not hesitate to reach out to Christine at

July / 2017

NHSEA Works Across the Aisle to Strengthen New Hampshire’s Clean Tech Industry

The New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association is the oldest and largest member-based nonprofit dedicated to improving New Hampshire’s clean energy economy.

The John Merck Fund began supporting NHSEA in 2013, when its talented board chair, Kate Epsen, took the helm as Executive Director. Thanks in large part to Kate’s skills at coalition building and coordination, NHSEA is now seen as a hub for innovative energy initiatives across New Hampshire and boasts a diverse membership of hundreds of businesses and individuals. Its New Hampshire Clean Tech Council represents seventeen different economic sectors, and NHCTC’s top priorities are strengthening the clean tech industry and promoting an innovative, stable, long-term clean tech policy that attracts new jobs, young professionals, and new investment.

In 2016, NHSEA focused on educating policymakers about the benefits of raising the state’s cap on net metering. Governor Hassan signed legislation raising the cap in August, 2016. NHSEA was also a major stakeholder in the development of New Hampshire’s new Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which sets statewide efficiency targets and will go into effect in 2018. In addition to this policy work, NHSEA also hosts many events and workshops and provides technical assistance to its members, and in October will host the 9th annual Local Energy Solutions Conference.

Executive Director Kate Epsen enjoys the variability of her job and relishes the challenge of building relationships with a diverse set of stakeholders that includes representatives from both sides of the political aisle, as well as both climate skeptics and fervent believers. As she puts it, “Working on energy in New Hampshire isn’t like working on it in Vermont, California, or Massachusetts. You need to be able to communicate with colleagues who at times have strongly divergent viewpoints, and to find creative ways to collectively move forward. It’s more challenging, but it’s also inspiring that headway can be made in ways you can’t always foresee.”