She retired as a lieutenant colonel from a 25-year career in the United States Army in May 2019, culminating in an assignment running the Army’s gender integration and religious accommodation programs at the Pentagon.
Dr. Mercer was born and raised in northern Nevada. She attended Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and spent a year at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan, as an exchange student. She began her Army career after completing the ROTC scholarship program in 1994 when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and history, receiving her commission through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her Army career included assignments in human resources at Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Okinawa, Japan; Fort Bliss, Texas; Talil, Iraq; and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Dr. Mercer taught at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Philosophy for two assignments.
She earned a master’s degree in English literature from University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2003, and a second master’s degree in strategic planning at the Air Command and Staff College of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in 2008. She earned her doctorate in literary studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 with a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. While at the Pentagon, she completed a Certificate in Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Management through the Institute for Transformational Leadership at Georgetown University in 2019.
Her military awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Operation Iraqi Freedom Campaign Ribbon, Global War on Terror Service Ribbon, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation.
As a scholar, Dr. Mercer specialized in feminist dystopian and utopian writing and 20th century literature. Her publications include the book Toward Utopia (2015); articles such as “Masculine Expansions of Othermothering in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Jazz, and A Mercy” in the Journal for the Motherhood Initiative; “Malkah, Aging, and Jewish Identity in Marge Piercy’s He, She and It” in FemSpec; “Leading Organizational Change: Women and the United States Military Academy” from BiblioScholar; “‘A Way, A Convenience, A Kindness’: Fundamentalism and Ecofeminist Utopia in Sheri S. Tepper’s Raising the Stones” in WisCon Chronicles 8; ““Don’t Forget to Kiss the Mezuzah” in Hip Mama; and “Pamela Sargent,” “Elizabeth Moon,” and “Dystopia” entries in Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Dr. Mercer is the faculty editor for Athena Speaks: Thirty Years of Women’s Writing at West Point. She has presented at numerous national and regional academic conferences and was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi in 2016.