Director of IT
United Way of Miami-Dade
Miami, FL, USA
How long have you been working for your organization?
I’ve been with United Way for 17 years.
What’s a typical day in your role like?
A typical day involves managing multiple technology projects and helping staff with hardware or software issues that are not managed by our IT service provider.
Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of?
I am most proud of my summer internship technology program for high school minorities. For five years, I’ve worked with our local school district, CareerSource and YearUp to provide summer internships in our IT department. There was one summer I had seven students at the same time. It was crazy, but fun. I had to break down a simple project into seven parts so that I could keep them occupied. Each year I enhance the program to include more substance like proper keyboarding, resume writing, and interview skills. I’m happy to say that two interns that started with me are now employees at United Way, one in Finance, and the other in IT.
Above: Merline leading a seminar for the 2019 YearUp students at Miami-Dade College.
What motivates you to come to work every day?
At this point in my life and career, what motivates me is leaving a strong legacy. I want to be remembered as a competent and compassionate leader. I want to help entry-level staff learn the tools and skills they need to help build their career. There will be people that remember me and say, "she taught me," "she helped me," "she opened doors for me." That's what motivates me.
What’s your favorite aspect of your job?
Every day is different. I enjoy learning and problem-solving. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I come up with solutions.
What are your biggest professional challenges?
I am a woman of color in a male-dominated industry. I attend local and national conferences, and there is rarely anyone else in the room that looks like me. My two main challenges are (1) seeking out sponsors who will advocate for me and allow me to shine and (2) putting myself in the forefront so other women of color can see the technology industry does have room for us.
Above: A photo booth snapshot of Merline at the 70s-themed 19th Annual Mayor's Ball to benefit United Way of Miami-Dade.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor? Can you tell us why?
I would choose Michelle Obama. She is poised, intelligent, and a woman of integrity.
What’s your personal mantra?
“Boss Lady.” I have a plaque in my office with these words inscribed. A good friend and co-worker also gave me a “Boss Lady” mug. Those words remind me of who I am and what I have accomplished.
Do you have hobbies outside of work? What are they?
I am very involved with the Foster and Adoption ministry at my church. We host monthly events for the parents and children, which include continuing education courses so the parents can maintain their license. We also have birthday parties, hayrides, holiday parties, and back to school giveaways. Our job is to make sure the children know they are loved, and the parents know they have support.
Caring in Common is a spotlight series that showcases different nonprofit professionals on the last Friday of each month. The goal is to highlight Andar Software customers from all walks of life, levels of experience, and areas of expertise. Their answers will inspire you, give you insight about the nonprofit industry, and motivate you on both a professional and personal level.