New Hire/Promotion

Merck Appoints Cristal N. Downing as Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Kenilworth-based Merck announced that Cristal N. Downing has been appointed chief communications & public affairs officer, a newly created role, effective August 16. Downing will become a member of Merck’s executive team and lead the development, advancement and execution of the company’s communications and public affairs strategy.

“Cristal is a transformational leader with a well-established track record of achievement,” said Rob Davis, CEO and president, Merck. “Cristal’s experience, business acumen, leadership capabilities and integrity will be invaluable as we drive productive conversations and strategic impact with a broad range of stakeholders, double down on our promising pipeline and work to accelerate delivery of our vital innovations to the world.”

“I am honored to become Merck’s chief communications & public affairs officer, and I look forward to collaborating with Rob and all our colleagues to foster relevant, impactful and equitable engagement both within the company and externally across broader environments,” Downing said. “Over the last 18 months, the world has especially come to understand and better appreciate the importance of biopharmaceutical innovation and the promise and power of cutting-edge science. I am deeply proud to help lead a company that is relentlessly committed to delivering on that promise by addressing some of the most significant global health needs.”

Most recently, Downing was vice president, Communications & Public Affairs, Medical Devices, at Johnson & Johnson. Prior to that, Downing held the role of vice president, Global Finance Communications at Johnson & Johnson, where she partnered with the chief financial officer to develop, integrate and implement a broad range of public affairs and communications strategies that supported the CFO and CEO strategic platforms.

Downing also co-led the development and implementation of the company’s “Our Race to Health Equity” platform – Johnson & Johnson’s Racial & Social Justice strategy. Downing has more than 20 years of leadership capabilities and expertise working in dynamic and complex organizations, including American Express, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

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