June Meeting – Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill

A Communications View from the State House
Featuring a Special Visit from John Merrill, Alabama Secretary of State

Alabama Sec. of State John H. Merrill

Join PRCA on Wednesday, June 7, from 11:45 a.m. till 1 p.m. as we hear from former PRCA Member and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

Online registration is available at www.prca-b.com or by emailing Victoria Fetner at vic.fetner@gmail.com. The June meeting will be held at the Vestavia Hills’ “Library in the Forest.” Street address is 1221 Montgomery Highway (aka Hwy 31), Vestavia, 35216. We will be in the Community Room as soon as you enter to the left.

The cost is $16 ($18 day of event) for members; $20 ($22 day of event) for guests and $10 for students. Prepay options are available, or guests can pay at the event although registration is required.

Here is a link to a map:


As practitioners, goals for this meeting will be to:

  • Meet and hear from a key political figure in our state as well as a seasoned communication professional about his perspective of the public relations field
  • Examine best practices based on John’s career and experiences as a education PR agent to the key magistrate in voting protocol for the state
  • Learn how John’s perspective on effective communication has changed based on being a holder of elected office
  • More effectively harness technology to communicate with diverse audiences
  • Share tips and tools to effectively improve communication at the community level
  • Learn more about communication issues related to recent state political news

About PRCA
The Public Relations Council of Alabama (PRCA) is the state’s longest operating and largest group of public relations practitioners. The organization exists to further the professional and networking interests of today’s communication professionals in private, public and nonprofit businesses and organizations.

PRCA was formed by a group of Birmingham PR practitioners who saw the need for regular networking with their peers. Though the date of the first meeting is uncertain, various accounts put it sometime between 1953-56. The group is more formally organized now, with more than 500 members in six chapters – Birmingham, East Alabama (Auburn/Opelika), Mobile, Montgomery, North Alabama (Huntsville) and West Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Along with networking, PRCA offers career development opportunities, mentors college students and works to improve the professionalism of public relations practice through its accreditation program.

SPRF is a network of public relations professionals from Alabama, northwest Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi who share a common interest in the public relations profession. Membership in the Federation is automatic for members of the PRCA, the Emerald Coast Public Relations Organization (ECPRO), the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (PRAL), and the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM).


  • Networking – 11:45 a.m. till 12:15 p.m.
  • Presentation from John Merrill –  12:15 till 12:50 p.m.
  • Announcements – 12:50 till 12:59 p.m.


Alabama Sec. of State John H. MerrillJohn Harold Merrill
John was inaugurated as Alabama’s 53rd Secretary of State in January of 2015.

In 2010, John was elected to represent the people of District 62 in the State House of Representatives with 87 percent of the vote which was the highest percentage vote of any contested House candidate that year. He served as the Secretary/Treasurer of the House Republican Caucus and was a member of the Rules Committee, Economic Development and Tourism, and Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committees.

In 2011, he was presented the “2011 Axe Award” by the Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments and became the only freshman ever to be recognized as their Legislator of the Year. John was a member of the inaugural class of NCSL Early Learning Fellows in 2011 (1 of 30 Legislators selected nationwide – only one from Alabama). In 2012, he was named the Alabama House Legislator of the Year by the Children’s Trust Fund, he was recognized by the Alabama Republican Party as a Rising Republican Star and he was presented with the 2012 Tuscaloosa All-Star Award for Excellence in Caring for Veterans.

In 2013, he was selected as the Soil and Water Conservation District Area III Outstanding Elected Official for 2013, 2013 Outstanding Legislator by the Alabama Association of Rescue Squads, and he was named as the Child Advocate of the Year for 2013 at the Early Intervention and Preschool Conference. In 2014, John was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Black Warrior Council of the Boy Scouts of America for outstanding volunteer service in Scouting. John was identified by the Sunlight Foundation as the Most Effective Republican Member of the Alabama House of Representatives from 2011-14 and he was named Legislator of the Year by the Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans in 2014. In 2015, he was selected as one of 48 leaders from around the nation to attend and graduate from the Council of State Government’s prestigious Henry Toll Fellowship Leadership Program.

John is the son of Horace and Mary Merrill of Heflin (Cleburne County). He was born on Nov. 12, 1963 in Wedowee (Randolph County). He grew up in Heflin and is an Eagle Scout from Heflin Troop 206. He is a graduate of Cleburne County High School and The University of Alabama where he served as President of the Student Government Association in 1986-1987.

While attending UA, John served as a Congressional Intern for Congressman Bill Nichols (1983) and Senator Howell Heflin (1984). After his term as SGA President, John became the governmental affairs intern at The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama in 1987-88; National Advertising Account Executive and Manager for Randall Publishing Company (now Randall-Reilly); Assistant Director for the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority from 1990-93 where he assisted in the recruitment of Mercedes-Benz; Director of Business Development for The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama in 1993-94; and was the Director of Community Relations and Community Education for the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education from 1994-2010; and served as Business Development Officer for 1st Federal Bank in Tuscaloosa from 2011-2015.

John is active in his community and has served in many leadership capacities. He is a Deacon at Calvary Baptist Church, where he has served as a Sunday School teacher and a member of the Sanctuary Choir. He was on Emmaus Walk # 68 and has assisted with several Emmaus Walks and Chrysalis Flights. He is a member of the National Association of Secretaries of State and the Republican Association of Secretaries of State. He is the Co-Chair of the NASS Voter Participation Committee and serves as the NASS Representative to the Steering Committee of the National Voter Registration Day. He is also a member of the United States Election Assistance Commission Standards Board. He is or has been a member of numerous community organizations such as, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Selection Committee, Children First Board of Directors, Friends of the Alabama Archives Board of Directors, Alabama YMCA Youth in Government Board of Directors, State Republican Executive Committee, National Rifle Association, Leadership Tuscaloosa, The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, United Way of West Alabama, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, March of Dimes, Hillcrest High School Athletic Boosters Club, West Alabama Literacy Council, Alabama Constables Association & others. He has also served as Southeastern Regional Vice President for the National School Public Relations Association and President or Chairman of many groups, which include the Alabama Children’s Trust Fund, Alabama School Communicator’s Association and the Alabama Community Education Association, American Red Cross, Leadership Tuscaloosa Alumni Association, United Cerebral Palsy of West Alabama, Youth for Christ, Druid Civitan Club, the Tuscaloosa City School’s Vocational Advisory Council, past Chairman of the Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee.

John has traveled internationally and represented our state and nation in Canada, China, Germany and Taiwan. He has been married to the former Cindy Benford of Phil Campbell for 30 years. The couple has two children, Brooks (25), an Event Coordinator Manager for The University of South Florida Department of Athletics, and Allie Grace (22), an International Flight Attendant with American Airlines.

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