New Hillel International COO Brings Innovative Approach to World’s Largest Jewish Campus Organization



June 22, 2022

Shari Merrill

Washington D.C. – As it approaches its 100th year of serving Jewish students at more than 850 colleges and universities around the world, Hillel International announced that Shari Merrill will serve as its new chief operating officer, beginning later this summer. Merrill comes to Hillel from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where as chief impact officer, she drove planning and community investment, and launched a series of dynamic new programs and partnerships. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Shari, who has a deep commitment to building strong and vibrant Jewish communities, and a strong track record helping talent-driven organizations to innovate and evolve in ways that maximize their community impact,” said Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman. “She has been a thought partner, resource and guide to community leaders throughout the Washington, D.C. region, fostering critical investment in the core organizations and new initiatives on which Jewish families have depended during the pandemic. Now she will bring her data-informed, innovation-oriented approach to supporting Jewish students and empowering the Hillel professionals who work tirelessly to engage and inspire them.” 

In the COO role, Merrill will lead Hillel International’s talent and programmatic teams, advancing Hillel’s leadership in attracting, developing, and supporting top talent, and investing in system-wide research and development efforts that fulfill Hillel’s role as the innovation lab for the Jewish future. She will also focus on ensuring that Hillel International operates as a model 21st-century social enterprise, built on strategic agility, a highly inclusive and collaborative culture, a distributed, global team and infrastructure, and a commitment to outstanding outcomes.  

Her experience in leading high-performing teams and navigating complex challenges in both the for-profit and Jewish nonprofit sectors is well suited to serving more than 140,000 Jewish college students and 1,200 professionals at a time when antisemitism, the campus mental health crisis, and other threats to the wellbeing of Jewish students are increasing.  

“Shari understands and is passionate about the Jewish communal world, and she’s a systems-thinker and innovator who excels at driving strong organizational outcomes,” said Lehman. “It’s the perfect combination for Hillel.”

“It is an honor to be joining the Hillel International team at such a pivotal time in the organization’s history,” said Merrill. “I couldn’t be more excited to work alongside the Hillel students and professionals who are building our Jewish future.”

“Though the Jewish Federation is bidding a fond farewell to our wonderful and talented colleague, I am thrilled that Shari’s next role will empower her to continue serving our Jewish community in meaningful, impactful ways,” said Gil Preuss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. “Shari’s talent for securing investment in our local community will now serve Jewish young people around the world.” 

Prior to her work at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Merrill served as Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Management Concepts Inc., worked as product manager at the Society for Human Resource Management, and was Associate Director at CEB in Rosslyn, VA and London, England. Merrill holds a bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University and a graduate degree from the London School of Economics.