Congratulations, Merilee!


NCL is honoring a LifeSmarts legend this month: after years of helping countless students and educators around the country, Missouri LifeSmarts State Coordinator Merilee Thoenen is retiring!

In addition to building one of the largest programs in the country, Merilee was recognized in 2014 as National Coordinator of the Year. As her teams and coaches can attest, her dedication to the LifeSmarts program is unparalleled.

Please join us in celebrating Merilee’s great accomplishments as we wish her, her husband Jim, and their family the best, from all of us at LifeSmarts!

Read what people have had to say about Merilee’s career in consumer services and as a LifeSmarts volunteer:

The Missouri Department of Consumer Services

The Department would like to wish Merilee Thoenen well on her upcoming retirement. Merilee works in the Office of College and Career Readiness and handles numerous duties, including serving as Missouri’s LifeSmarts Coordinator. Merilee was a teacher in Chamois and Linn before coming to the Department almost 10 years ago. She was always willing to go above and beyond to help everyone in the office, and our children around the state. Congratulations! 

LifeSmarts Program Director Lisa Hertzberg

We wish every state had someone like Merilee. She has given so much of her time, energy, and herself to make the program in Missouri one of our strongest. She truly cares about LifeSmarts, and—even moreso—she cares about the young people and educators the program reaches. She has been a great role model for new coordinators, and has shown LifeSmarts staff new ways to implement the program as well. Her retirement is well deserved, but we will miss her!  Happily, she has already committed to joining us next year in Denver for our 22nd national championship!

LifeSmarts coaches

Merilee is so positive. She loves this curriculum and encourages us to use it. She is always keeping us on our toes about what is going on at LifeSmarts. If I have a question, she will find the answer and get right back to me either by email or text. She is always available to help us and we know that she is happy to do it.

I have known Merilee for several years through competing at state LifeSmarts competitions. Her can-do attitude has encouraged me to push my kids to be successful with this program. I am so thankful for her and her smile, which has led my kids to a lot of opportunities that they wouldn’t have had otherwise!! Thank you Merilee!! And thank you LifeSmarts!!

Merilee is one of those unsung heroes. She does this work out of sheer enjoyment as much as out of duty.