Jen Merrill is an Illinois-based writer, musician, marketing project manager, and gifted family advocate. The mom of two, she homeschooled one twice-exceptional son through high school while happily sending his younger brother off to school every morning. Those days now in the past, she is settling into the somewhat quieter life of an empty-nester. She is a music educator by trade, with degrees in music education and flute performance. Long before she picked up a flute as a child, however, Jen wanted to be a writer, something that didn’t happen until she opened a Blogger account in 2006 and never looked back. Her writing focused mostly on gifted families and advocacy until the pandemic hit and instead of writing she took up staring into space. Her book, “If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?”, struck a nerve with families who suspected Jen was living in their closet. Her second book, on the needs of gifted parents and self-care, is in progress; it is taking significantly longer than anticipated because of the aforementioned staring into space, complicated by living as the gooey center of the sandwich generation. In addition to writing on her long-time blog, Laughing at Chaos, she is the creative editor of the GHF Learners Journey newsletter and has published articles in the Understanding Our Gifted Journal, the 2e Newsletter, the Huffington Post.
Jen has presented at the National Association for Gifted Children conference (2013, 2022), the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children conference (2013), the Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted conference (2016, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2022), and the Illinois Association for Gifted Children Parents’ Day (2017, 2018). She was also the keynote speaker for the Twice-Exceptional Children's Advocacy conference (2016) and the SENG conference (2019).
Jen brings both her acquired wisdom and her experience as a teacher and mentor to her work in the service of parents, teaching them techniques and mentoring them into their own versions of success. Her goal is to support parents of gifted and twice-exceptional kids, because they are the ones doing the heavy lifting and are too often ignored, patronized, and discredited. It is her hope that her sons never have to deal with these issues when they raise their own likely gifted children.