Full Name
Jacob Merkle
Job Title
Speaker Bio

I co-founded Rhizome with 90 young people out of the desire to build community, spend my time meaningfully, and hold space for emerging leaders to realize their potential. We are student-led, as students vote to approve nominees to our Board, decide on unified actions we take, and vote to determine our goals, vision, and overall changes to our system design. In 2021, I completed an MPhil in Sociology from Cambridge, where my dissertation focused on language used by history’s most persuasive nonviolent movements to activate people's identities into action. People like Ella Baker, Dolores Huerta, Diane Nash, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr. expressed that the deepest meaning of their work was found in how it transformed the identities of those who joined them. My research offered a personal, practical blueprint for sustainable organizing, and focused on how leaders connected civic identity to topics of reconciliation, death, god, time, freedom, and responsibility. Today, Rhizome's mission is to activate young people's identities into action and help youth treat civic service as the work of a lifetime. Easily confused by simple things, our Organizers and Fellows like to call me out for tilting at windmills, asking winding questions, and smiling at walls. I live in Seattle and my comfort zone is dad jokes, oatmeal, and the occasional tall tale.

Jacob Merkle