Mariam Merced, MA has been the Director of the RWJ Barnabas Health System- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Community Health Promotion Program for the past 29 years. In this role, she is responsible for the coordination of accessible quality preventive health care services and educational programs for communities in Middlesex County. She partners with houses of worship, health institutions and community-based organizations, in the design and implementation culturally appropriate community-wide health promotion initiatives.
In 2012, she partnered with Saint Peter’s University Hospital and other local health organizations to develop and implement a comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment and a Community Health Improvement Plan for Middlesex and Franklin Township. This initiative, lead to the creation of the Healthier Middlesex Consortium. The goal of the consortium is to develop collaborative plans and implement strategies to improve the health and well-being of individuals and families in Central Jersey.
Ms. Merced works closely with local organizations and community residents to develop innovative programs that utilize the arts to promote health information among diverse communities in Central Jersey. As a result, she has developed numerous health promotion theater projects in the areas of Breast and Prostate Cancer awareness, domestic violence and smoking cessation/Lung Cancer awareness. In addition, in conjunction with several community organizations she coordinates and directs the AMARD&V: Healing through the Arts, an anti-violence art prevention program, for inner-city African American and Latino youth.
In 2009, she developed a very successful Diabetes Educational Initiative targeting Spanish speaking diabetics in the city of New Brunswick. The initiative included the creation of a bilingual support group, educational sessions in Spanish for newly diagnosed patients, fitness vouchers and the creation of the Project INSPIRE: Inspiring Our Selves to Live a Healthy and Active Life. The focus of this bilingual program is to educate children of diabetics the importance of healthy eating and the promotion of active living through hands on activities such as nutritional educational games, fitness awareness, cooking demonstrations, supermarket tours and others. In 2011, after evaluating the lack of use of parks by families in New Brunswick she designed and implemented the Fun in the Park Project. The project uses “park ambassadors” to implement year-round culturally relevant park-based programs to engage neighborhood youth in active living initiatives.
Ms. Merced is also very active in many health, social service and religious organizations. She is the Co-Chair of the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance Community Engagement Group, the past Chair of the Puerto Rican Action Board of Directors, a member of Partnership for Healthy Kids of New Brunswick, a member of the Elijah’s Promise Soup Kitchen Advisory Board and Elder and past vice-chair of Consistory at the Suydam Street Reformed Church. Ms. Merced has received numerous awards for her contributions towards improving the quality of lives of our residents. She holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Psychology and Labor Studies from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Masters Degree in Labor Studies from Rutgers University. Ms. Merced is married to Mr. Claudio Mir and they are the proud parents of two young men.