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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