Jeff Merritt, Class of 2016
Market Vice President, Cox Communications
What is new and exciting with you now or since your time with Lead Virginia?
I recently completed my master’s degree in Natural Resources with a certificate in Global Sustainability from Virginia Tech. I’m also the executive sponsor of our Cox Conserves team here in Virginia, so these go hand-in-hand. I’m looking forward to continuing our business focus on having zero waste go to landfills by 2024 and being carbon and water neutral by 2044.
How did Lead Virginia shape you as a leader?
Lead Virginia gave me exposure to several social, economic and regional issues across the state that I had never considered. Having an opportunity to meet leaders in each area, understand their challenges and hear their solutions was among the best leadership development experiences in my life. I truly gained an appreciation for how leaders in these communities rolled up their sleeves, collaborated and addressed the wicked concerns they were facing.
Since Lead Virginia, how have you put your social capital to work?
Being a Lead Virginia alum has created a number of connections that I never expected. In addition to the relationships I formed within my own class, it’s amazing how often I’m able to interact with Lead Virginia alumni from other classes as well. Lead Virginia serves as a common bond among grads and, for those that I haven’t met, serves as a foundation for starting up new relationships.
How would you characterize the ROI of your participation in Lead Virginia as a benefit to your company or organization?
I’m proud to be among several leaders in my company that are Lead Virginia alumni. At Cox, we recognize the importance of making a difference in the communities where we live and work. Lead Virginia aligns with those principles and has created stronger connections with business and community leaders across the state.
What was your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from Lead Virginia that continues to resonate with you today?
As we traveled from one region to another, I distinctly remember the unique challenges and opportunities facing different parts of the state. These differences included social, economic, education, healthcare and so much more. Despite these regional differences, I also was profoundly inspired by the work local leaders were doing to bring about positive changes and impacts to their communities. Lead Virginia served as a motivating factor for me to get more involved and leverage my skills to make a difference in my own region.