The Crucible welcomes new Executive Director Susan Mernit, who for many years has led tech, community and arts organizations and initiatives in the Bay Area, Board President Warren Breslau has announced. Mernit’s appointment culminates a national search and she replaces Interim Executive Director Alex Zwissler. Mernit’s experience and leadership roles have bridged the tech industry including AOL, Netscape, and Yahoo! and innovative, community nonprofit entrepreneurship, including Oakland-based tech inclusion nonprofit Hack the Hood, and her earlier local media project, Oakland Local. As Mernit joins The Crucible at the end of July, she will become a member of Hack the Hood’s Board of Directors, stepping down as CEO.
“After a thorough, three-month search, we are thrilled to welcome Susan Mernit as our next Executive Director,” said Breslau. “Her vast and successful experience both in the private sector leading divisions of companies like Netscape, AOL, and Yahoo!, as well as founding and running nonprofits like Hack the Hood and Oakland Local will be invaluable for The Crucible. She is completely committed to Oakland and exactly the person we need to take us into the future.”
“Susan’s vast experience is inspiring, and I really like that she founded a nonprofit organization that serves the Oakland community,” said Crucible founder Michael Sturtz. “With the 20th anniversary of The Crucible approaching in 2019, Susan’s arrival is timed nicely to lead The Crucible into its next 20 years.”
“The Crucible is one of the most inspiring and original arts communities in the world,” said Mernit. “This is a wonderful time to help deepen their connections to Oakland, to youth and to local artists and makers, while we celebrate and maintain The Crucible’s amazing creative community. To work with such a vibrant and passionate group of staff, faculty and creators is an honor; I am excited to collaborate with everyone to build on what The Crucible community has already accomplished.”
About Susan Mernit
Susan Mernit is co-founder and current CEO of Hack the Hood, a Bay Area nonprofit organization that works to address the needs of low-income young people of color, ages 16 to 25, by empowering them to pursue jobs in tech in the Bay Area and across the region. Its 168-hour intensive “Bootcamp” builds a powerful and effective roadway to mid- and high-skills jobs with advanced training for in-demand tech careers through a direct service and train-the-trainer model. Mernit co-founded Hack the Hood while running Oakland Local, an impactful hyperlocal news site, and while working as a consultant for The Knight Foundation’s Community Impact Challenge program.
A former VP at America Online and Netscape, and a former Yahoo! Senior Director, Mernit has spent her life working at the intersection of media, tech, and the arts. She has consulted for a number of organizations, including Public Radio International, Salon.com and TechSoup Global. She led a 2008 Tech Stars company start-up and worked with Jeff Jarvis to launch The Yuckiest Site on the Internet, one of the first youth websites, later acquired by Discovery Communications. In her earliest days, she was a teaching artist for Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York, a published writer and small-press bookmaker, and a proud counselor at Buck’s Rock Work Camp.
A skilled trainer and speaker, Mernit has taught workshops on social media, news, and strategy for The Poynter Institute, the Knight Foundation, and the Knight Digital Media Center at USC/Annenberg School of Journalism. She was a Carlos McClatchy Fellow at Stanford University School of Journalism and is a longtime Oakland resident.