Chaya Merrill's profile photo

Chaya Merrill

Director, Child Health Data Lab, Children's National Hospital

Chaya Merrill's profile photo
Location: Arlington, VA
Start Year: 2023
TRHT Pillar: Narrative Change



Chaya is the Director of the Child Health Data Lab—a department within the Child Health Advocacy Institute (CHAI) of Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Her work centers on using data to advance racial and social justice issues, particularly in reaching health equity for children. Chaya has significant experience working collaboratively with community-based organizations to facilitate social and health change. She co-directs the community-engaged research component of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Children’s National and co-chairs its Community Advisory Board. In addition, Chaya holds a faculty appointment at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences as an assistant professor of pediatrics. 

Her passion for social and racial justice crosses into her professional and personal life. 

Chaya lives outside of Washington, D.C., in Arlington, Virginia, where she is involved in the school system, the local homeless shelter and the food assistance center. As a mother of two teenage girls who are starting their own personal advocacy journeys, she spends many hours volunteering and supporting local programs, from cooking and delivering meals to fundraising for the food bank to writing op-ed advocacy pieces. She works with her daughters’ school systems to educate youth on social justice issues and actions they can take to make an impact in their communities.




Future Focus

Chaya is working on an initiative that assesses differences in neighborhood conditions in the D.C. area that impact a child’s opportunity to develop in a healthy way. She recognizes the role that neighborhoods play in a child’s life, such as the quality of education, access to healthy food and employment rates. She believes that the predominant narrative about why some children succeed while others struggle places too much emphasis on individual behaviors without acknowledging the structural determinants that are often rooted in racism. She is excited to be a part of the Culture of Health Leaders program to deepen her ability to change the existing narrative and ultimately improve access to opportunity for all children.




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Culture of Health Leaders Institute for Racial Healing

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Program