Merrick named as state’s next commerce secretary
Entrepreneur is CEO of Virginia Ready Initiative, Youngkin's nonprofit
Caren Merrick, the CEO of Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s nonprofit Virginia Ready Initiative, has been chosen to serve as Virginia’s next secretary of commerce and trade, Youngkin’s campaign announced Tuesday.
Before leading VA Ready, a role in which she managed $10 million in public and private funding to assist Virginians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent labor shortage, Merrick started webMethods, a software company that grew to $200 million, and is a partner in NextGen Venture Partners, which invests in startups. She also has served on multiple companies’ boards with combined assets of $12 billion and revenues of $3 billion, according to Youngkin’s announcement, and was a director of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Merrick is also a member of Gladstone Capital’s board, as well as a director of the company’s investment, land and commercial sectors since 2014.
In 2011, Merrick ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the Virginia Senate District 31 seat, defeated by Democrat Barbara Favola, who continues to hold the seat.
“Virginia’s jobs machine has stalled out, and Caren is going to play a pivotal role on the team that will jumpstart our economy and reinvigorate job growth here in the commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement. “Caren is an innovator, a business builder and a true leader in workforce development — the kind of experience needed to develop talent, train workers, attract investment and make Virginia the best state to start a business as we set out to add 400,000 jobs and launch 10,000 startups.”
Brian Ball, the current secretary of commerce and trade, has served in that role since April 2018.
A graduate of UCLA and the Harvard Business School’s corporate governance program, Merrick lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and two sons. She is the second Cabinet-level appointee announced by Youngkin, who named Aimee Rogstad Guidera as education secretary on Monday. A Republican, Youngkin takes office Jan. 15, 2022.