TROY - Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill will deliver the keynote address at Troy University's summer commencement exercises on July 22 in Trojan Arena.
The 10 a.m. ceremony, which does not require tickets for admission, will feature about 500 students representing 21 U.S. states and seven nations outside the United States.
Elected in 2014 as Alabama's 53rd Secretary of State, Merrill grew up in Heflin, earned the Eagle Scout rank, graduated from Cleburne County High School and the University of Alabama, where he served as president of the Student Government Association.
He was elected to the District 62 seat in the State House of Representatives in 2010, carrying 87 percent of the vote - the highest percentage vote of any contested House race in that election cycle. In the House, Merrill served as the secretary/treasurer of the House Republican Caucus and was a member of the Rules Committee, the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, and the Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee.
Prior to his election as Secretary of State, Merrill was business development officer for 1st Federal Bank in Tuscaloosa, which he joined in 2011 after serving as the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education's director of community relations and community education for 16 years. Merrill was assistant director for the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority from 1990-1993. His professional experience includes two stints and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, and work the Randall Publishing Company.
In 2011, he was presented the “2011 Axe Award” by the Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments and became the only freshman ever to be recognized as their Legislator of the Year. Merrill was a member of the inaugural class of NCSL Early Learning Fellows in 2011 (one of 30 Legislators selected nationwide - and the only one from Alabama). In 2012, he was named the Alabama House Legislator of the Year by the Children's Trust Fund, he was recognized by the Alabama Republican Party as a Rising Republican Star, and he was presented with the 2012 Tuscaloosa All-Star Award for Excellence in Caring for Veterans. In 2013, he was selected as the Soil and Water Conservation District Area III Outstanding Elected Official for 2013, 2013 Outstanding Legislator by the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads, and he was named as the Child Advocate of the Year for 2013 at the Early Intervention and Preschool Conference. In 2014, Merrill was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America for outstanding volunteer service in Scouting. Merrill was identified by the Sunlight Foundation as the Most Effective Republican Member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 2011-14 and he was named Legislator of the Year by the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans in 2014. In 2015, he was selected as one of 48 leaders from around the nation to attend and graduate from the Council of State Government's prestigious Henry Toll Fellowship Leadership Program.
Active in his community, Merrill is a deacon at Calvary Baptist Church, where he has served as a Sunday School teacher and member of the choir, and has assisted on several Emmaus Walks and Chrysalis Flights.
He is a member of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Republican Association of Secretaries of State. He is the Co-Chair of the NASS Voter Participation Committee and serves as the NASS Representative to the Steering Committee of the National Voter Registration Day. He is also a member of the United States Election Assistance Commission Standards Board. He is or has been a member of numerous community organizations such as, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee, Children First Board of Directors, Friends of the Alabama Archives Board of Directors, Alabama YMCA Youth in Government Board of Directors, State Republican Executive Committee, National Rifle Association, Leadership Tuscaloosa, The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, United Way of West Alabama, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, March of Dimes, Hillcrest High School Athletic Boosters Club, West Alabama Literacy Council, Alabama Constables Association and others.
He has also served as Southeastern Regional Vice President for the National School Public Relations Association and president or chairman of many groups, including the Alabama Children's Trust Fund, Alabama School Communicator's Association and the Alabama Community Education Association, American Red Cross, Leadership Tuscaloosa Alumni Association, United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama, Youth for Christ, Druid Civitan Club, the Tuscaloosa City School's Vocational Advisory Council, past Chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee.
He has represented Alabama in Canada, China, German and Taiwan.
Merrill and his wife, Cindy, a career education and former principal of Westwood Elementary School in Coker, make their home in Tuscaloosa and have two adult children, Brooks, 25, and Allie Grace, 22.