Ellen Merlo

United States

Ellen Merlo is one of the Weizmann Institute’s pillars of support, an energetic and talented leader and an advocate for the State of Israel and Jewish-related causes, advancing Israeli science and academia, and notably, women in science.

In over 40 years in corporate America, Ms. Merlo held a variety of positions with Philip Morris USA and other corporations. Her primary career focus at Philip Morris was in senior marketing and communications positions. Prior to her retirement, she held the position of Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, and was responsible for directing internal and external communications, public affairs activities, corporate responsibility planning and programs, consumer affairs, and community relations, including charitable grants on behalf of the company. She also served as the senior spokesperson.

Prior to joining Philip Morris, Ms. Merlo was the managing editor of Motor Trend magazine in Los Angeles, and held several other positions with publishing companies and advertising agencies.

Since her retirement, Ms. Merlo has undertaken a more active role in the philanthropic community. She heads the Pearl Welinsky Merlo Foundation, which she established in honor of her mother. She also served as the Vice President of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, is the Treasurer of the Brand Israel Group—an organization working to keep Americans connected to Israel—and is on the Board of Governors of the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.

Ms. Merlo’s relationship with the Weizmann Institute began in 2004, soon after her retirement from the business world. Wishing to find a way to advance science and medicine, she focused on supporting stem cell research at the Institute. Her involvement has grown over the years, taking shape as remarkably active leadership, interest, and commitment. She served as Chair of the New York Region of the American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science (ACWIS) and as a member of its executive committee, and currently serves as National Chair of ACWIS. Ms. Merlo is a member of the President’s Circle and serves on the Institute’s International and Executive Boards.

An avid supporter of promoting women in science, Ms. Merlo says, “Women can succeed on their own brainpower and creativity, but given societal constraints and expectations, we just need to do what it takes to give them an opportunity to shine.” She has spearheaded fundraising efforts for the Institute’s Women and Science Award and, in 2014, established the Women for Science (W4S) initiative to create a cohesive community of women across America united in a common mission to support science for the benefit of humanity. This highly successful initiative has generated significant funds for the Weizmann Institute, identified future leadership for the American Committee, and introduced many new supporters to the Institute.