Photo of Christine James

Christine James

Executive Director (ret.), The John Merck Fund

Over the four decades of her working life, Christine James has taught ESOL classes in Boston for adult students from all over the world, served as executive director for a small, organic educational farm in Maine, advised faith-based and secular institutions on how to move to renewable energy to address climate change, raised funds for Boston’s large community center network, led a coalition of nonprofits, businesses, hospitals, universities, and community members working to improve neighborhood health, safety, and cohesiveness in Allston-Brighton, researched the socioeconomic impact of fisheries regulations on fishing ports in Maine and Massachusetts as staff at MIT Sea Grant, and taught urban ecology in Springfield College’s program for adult students working in human services. For thirteen years (2008-2021), Christine drew on her varied background to help The John Merck Fund resource nonprofits in New England and across the country that are working to protect human health and the environment. JMF converted from a perpetual to a "spend out" foundation in 2011 and distributed its entire endowment over a ten year period ending in December 2021. Since 2018, Christine has traveled to Honduras and Tijuana, Mexico, to stand in solidarity with peaceful protestors seeking political reforms, and with individuals and families seeking refuge in the US from violence, poverty and the ravages of climate change in their home countries. Over the past several years, she has sponsored asylum-seekers from Uganda and Haiti as they have pursued their cases in Boston. She currently serves on the boards of The New England Grassroots Environment Fund and East Burke School. Despite her move to Vermont in 2020, Zoom has helped Christine remain an active member of Church of the Covenant-Boston. Christine has a B.A. in art history from Bowdoin College and an M.A. in urban and environmental policy from Tufts University. If not inside baking or knitting, Christine is outdoors—working in her garden, helping her husband with repair projects around their homestead, or exploring the beauty of rural Vermont on foot, by bike or in a kayak.