Secretary of Commerce and Trade

Caren Merrick

Photo of Secretary Caren Merrick

Caren Merrick is a business leader in the Commonwealth, with over 25 years of experience launching growth companies, reinventing companies, and leading business improvement transformation.
As the CEO of the Virginia Ready Initiative, Caren oversaw $10 million in funding through Public-Private Partnerships to help mitigate the economic hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting labor shortages by retraining Virginians for in-demand careers.
At Virginia Ready, Caren has worked with EY, Bank of America, SAIC, Genworth Financial, PwC, Northrop Grumman, BAE, Sentara Health, Huntington Ingalls, Carillion Clinic and the Virginia Community College System. To date, over 3,500 Virginians are completing accelerated credential courses for in-demand skills in technology, healthcare, manufacturing and skilled trades and over 1/3 have been hired by Virginia businesses.  Caren is known as a strategic, entrepreneurial leader and co-founded enterprise software company webMethods growing it from zero to $200m and the most successful software IPO in history at offering.  She is a partner in NextGen Venture Partners investing in category defining early stage companies.  
Caren has built boards of directors including webMethods, Inc., the webMethods Foundation, and the Virginia Ready Initiative. She has served on Boards of public and private growth companies with combined assets of $12B and revenues of $3B across a variety of sectors, specializing in private equity and financial services, talent development and recruiting, transportation infrastructure and airport systems, and REITs.  Previously she served as a board director for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
A Virginia resident since 1988, Caren and her husband of 28 years live in Northern Virginia and have two sons.

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