Mariam Merced, MA, has been the director of the Community Health Promotion program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) since 1992. In this role, she is responsible for the coordination of accessible quality preventive health care services and educational programs for communities in Middlesex County. She partners with houses of worship, health institutions, and community-based organizations in the design and implementation of culturally appropriate, community-wide health promotion initiatives.
Merced led the development of a partnership among RWJUH, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, and other local health organizations that resulted in the implementation of a comprehensive community health needs assessment and a community health improvement plan for Middlesex County and Franklin Township in 2012. This initiative led to the creation of the Healthier Middlesex Consortium.
Merced also works with local organizations and community residents to develop arts programs to promote health information among diverse communities in Central Jersey. She has developed numerous theater projects related to awareness campaigns for breast and prostate cancer, domestic violence, smoking cessation, and lung cancer. In conjunction with several community organizations, she coordinates and directs AMARD&V: Healing Through the Arts, an anti-violence program for inner-city African-American and Latino youth.
She also developed a diabetes educational initiative targeting Spanish-speaking people who have diabetes living in the city of New Brunswick that included the creation of a bilingual support group, educational sessions in Spanish for newly diagnosed patients, fitness vouchers, and the creation of a program that educates children of diabetics the importance of healthy eating and the promotion of active living through hands-on activities. She also designed and implemented the Fun in the Park Project in 2011, after evaluating the lack of use of parks by families in New Brunswick, which incorporates “park ambassadors” to implement year-round culturally relevant park-based programs to engage neighborhood youth in active living initiatives.
Merced is active in many health, social service, and religious organizations. She is the co-chair of the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance Community Engagement Group, the past chair of the Puerto Rican Action Board of Directors, a member of Partnership for Healthy Kids of New Brunswick, a member of the Elijah’s Promise Advisory Board, and an elder and past vice-chair of consistory at the Suydam Street Reformed Church. She received a B.A. degree in psychology and labor studies from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in labor studies from Rutgers. Merced is married to Claudio Mir, and they are the proud parents of two young men.
New Brunswick, New Jersey