From Small Town To Big Influence: Jerrie Merritt’s Legacy of Giving Back - Jen Hatmaker

From Small Town To Big Influence: Jerrie Merritt’s Legacy of Giving Back

“When I enjoy what I do as much as I do, and at the same time I’m giving back in areas that I probably would give back to even if I didn’t get paid to do it–that’s how I got here.”

Episode 02

In this week’s episode in our Black Trailblazer’s series, Jen may have leveraged her connections, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she did. We’re excited to have a wonderful sit down with the amazing Jerrie Merritt (who just happens to be Jen’s boyfriend Tyler’s mother–and a Black trailblazer in every sense of the word). In addition to being Tyler’s mom, Jerrie’s currently the Senior VP of Community Development at the Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas. Her banking career spans 40 plus years, where her job now is discerning funding for community development projects in the city of Las Vegas (as she puts it; “I’m the only person at the bank who’s actually giving money away!”). She’s been the board president of the Rape Crisis Center, The Urban Financial Services Coalition, and the Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas. She even recently got to work with the NFL when the Super Bowl took place in Las Vegas to lead the dispersion of funds they made available to 14 worthy organizations, which she chose. In 2021, Jerrie received an actual Trailblazer Award, presented by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women from the Las Vegas Chapter. Jerrie takes us back to where it all began; in a tiny town called Eutaw, Alabama, where Jerrie didn’t see much modeled to her in the way of dreaming of who she could be, but through generosity of spirit and a willingness to take a chance, she started blazing her trail. It wasn’t without its challenges, coming up during a time where women–especially black women–were often shunned in business and leadership settings. Despite this, Jerrie paved a way, and in turn is paving a way for those coming up behind her. Her infectious courage, intertwined with a humility that hits you right in the feels—will incite a fire with all of us to leave our own indelible mark on this wild, beautiful world.

Episode Transcript

Hi everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love podcast. Welcome to the show. I got a surprise for you. You’re gonna love it 

So right now we are in a series celebrating the voices, the influence, and the accomplishments of Black women, of course, right here in the middle of February, which is Black History Month. We’ve been thrilled to focus on these just brave, smart, intelligent, and ambitious women, who have been true trailblazers in their lives and in their work. Every one of these conversations has left me so energized and spinning. You know, I’m inspired so much by women. And so it just has me thinking, ‘Gosh, women can do anything. Women are the best. Women are so profound and powerful.’ This week is no exception. I have a special guest. 

I have had the pleasure of getting to know her these last two-plus years, and I have an enormous amount of respect for her for more than one reason. Not only has she made her mark in this world as a Black Trailblazer in her industry, which you’re going to hear about–you’re going to love it–she’s also made a huge impact in my life, because she brought a man that I care about very much into this world, and she raised him to be a stunning human being. That is my boyfriend and my partner Tyler. Today we have Tyler’s mom, the amazing Jerrie Merritt. 

Her story is so fascinating. When Tyler and I were recently in Vegas, I was doing essentially what I do on the show–which was peppering her with questions and essentially interviewing her. That is really when I got to the bottom of what her career looks like. Look, I love him, I do, but Tyler had not given me the full picture of Jerrie’s career. He gave it to me in fits and starts and I mean, I just I understood it dimly, as they say. When I had Jerrie to myself and I started asking her the “Jen Hatmaker level” questions that I like to ask of people that I’m interested in, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, your career is amazing. I did not know that. This is exactly what you did.’ So I’m not going to steal too much thunder, but I’m going to give you the high level here. 

Jerrie Merritt is a senior vice president of community development at the Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas. Her banking career spans 40-plus years, and she single-handedly discerns funding from her bank for community development projects in the city. There is legislation around this. This is something that banks are required to do when they are FDIC banks They are required to give money to the communities that they are serving for development. This is literally what Jerrie does. She is the grant giver. Her responsibilities include coordinating all those community development initiatives and then working as the intermediary with state and local agencies and other groups involved in the community with all these economic development programs and projects. It’s stunning really and she’s so good at it. She’s absolutely revered in her city and in her industry. She’s received tons of recognition for her performance, her skillful leadership, and her exceptional contributions to the financial arena. She has been on so many boards and she is currently on so many boards. I could start listing them and they would never end. She is part of the UNLV Libraries Advisory Board, and Communities and Schools Board. That’s an incredible organization. She’s a part of the Hannah Brown Community Development Corporation, Nevada Small Business Development Center, the Governor’s Workforce Development Board, and United Way. What I’m telling you is it doesn’t end. Past leadership positions for Jerrie have included; The board president of the Rape Crisis Center and also the Urban Financial Services Coalition in Vegas and the Chamber of Commerce it goes on, on, on, and on. 

Then in 2021, Jerrie received the Trailblazer Award, presented by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women from the Las Vegas Chapter, which is an outstanding national award. She’s got so many other accomplishments. She has so many trophies and gold medals. It’s such a long list. She was recognized as an interesting personality in Who’s Who’s Black Las Vegas Women to Watch award. From Vegas Inc., My Vegas Magazine‘s top 100 women of influence. She also was also the Silver State award. She received the Silver State Award for Female Executive of the Year. This is Tyler’s mom. 

We’re going to take you back at the beginning of this interview to where it started in a tiny town called Eutaw, Alabama where she had simple and humble beginnings. You’re going to see a story arc that is just inspiring. It’s not just an inspiring career. Jerrie’s an inspiring person. This is who she is. Both at the top of the ladder in her industry and in her family, in her neighborhood, and in her personal community. She’s just good and she’s just special. It makes sense because she has raised such a special guy. You’re gonna love her as much as you think you are. So I am so delighted and honored to bring to you this incredible conversation with the absolutely wonderful Jerrie Merritt.





National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Vegas Chapter

I Always Wanted to Be Somebody by Altea Gibson

NFL Grant Programs



The For the Love Podcast is a production of Four Eyes Media,
presented by Audacy.

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