Founder and Principal Consultant
John David "J.D." Merrill
John David “J.D.” Merrill is an experienced public sector leader, communicator, and project manager who adds capacity and value to every team he is a part of.
Prior to founding Mangrove Strategies, he served as a teacher, school district leader, and school leader in Baltimore City Public Schools, where he helped lead his school to be the most improved K-8 in Baltimore City. You can read about J.D.'s work in these roles here.
Merrill cares deeply about public service and has worked with a number of local and national candidates and causes including Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson's first campaign in 2010 and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott's first campaign in 2011.
In 2022, Merrill volunteered with World Central Kitchen in response to Hurricane Ian and was quickly hired as an emergency response contractor, conducting scouting, community outreach, and leading operations and logistics for three food distribution sites in southwest Florida.
In 2018, Merrill ran for the Maryland State Senate, knocking on over 50,000 doors, raising more than $220,000 from more than 1,200 contributors, and earning the endorsement of the Baltimore Sun, 21 community leaders, and 7 elected officials on his way to earning 38.7% of the vote.
Now, Merrill prefers working behind the scenes, helping clients and their causes get things done.
J.D. started his career as a Teach For America corps member, teaching high school social studies at Baltimore City College, the same high school he graduated from (City Forever!). He earned his B.A. in Educational Policy Studies from Davidson College and an M.S. in Educational Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
J.D. enjoys working out, swimming, playing pickleball, biking, kayaking, exploring nature, picking up trash, and volunteering. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Reach out to J.D. to explore working together.
Julia Ellis is an experienced American and international educator and writer who is passionate about helping schools tell their stories in compelling ways.
Julia began her career teaching English in Yangsan, South Korea and has since taught multiple subjects and grade-levels in Baltimore City Public Schools and Albemarle County Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia. She has mentored new teachers, led instructional teams, and collaborated with school leaders to implement equity audits, develop after-school programming, implement virtual and hybrid learning, launch new technologies, and conduct community outreach.
Julia’s work outside of the classroom has included writing policy memos for local government, writing for an ed tech company, and developing social media strategy and content for a municipal agency.
Julia graduated from Davidson College with a B.A. in Religious Studies and went on to earn her M.S. in Education from Johns Hopkins University School of Education.
She enjoys cooking, sewing, camping, and exploring her home city of Baltimore, Maryland where she lives with her husband Sawyer and dog Jeb.