Kenya Merritt

Program Officer, Community Investment

Kenya Merritt is the Program Officer at the Pritzker Traubert Foundation. She has more than 20 years of community building and economic development experience in the public sector.

Previously, she held dual roles as the First Deputy Commissioner and Chief Small Business Officer at the City of Chicago, where she was responsible for setting the City’s small business agenda and strengthening programs that support business growth and invigorate communities in every corner of Chicago. She’s been at the forefront of rolling out the Mayor’s $100M fiscal business support programs, assisting entrepreneurs through the re-opening and recovery, and has worked with nearly 100 business support organizations setting equitable standards and supporting essential workers through the pandemic. She has led Chicago’s efforts to invest over $50M through the Chicago’s Recovery Fund to support economic development initiatives that drive small business growth, build organizational capacity of local nonprofits, and create opportunities to access capital for food-based entrepreneurs. Kenya previously worked as the Chief Financial Officer with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Department of Family and Support Services, as well as an analyst for the Office of Budget and Management.

Throughout her career, she has worked to improve communities by forging partnerships to develop and implement initiatives and policies that range in the areas of financial management, arts administration, community, and economic development, each with the goal of making Chicago better.

Kenya holds a MS in Public Service Management from DePaul University and a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a 2022 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow. She is a resident of the Austin community and the proud mother of Caleb.