Murphy Harpst



Michael Scott Merritt 

President & Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Merritt earned his Masters in Counseling and Human Development from the University of Georgia and is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Masters Addiction Counselor by trade.  He has dedicated the past 23-years of his life to working with youth and families in need of intensive services.

After beginning his career as therapist at the Devereux Georgia Treatment Network, Mr. Merritt developed a reputation for being a strong advocate for clients and families and was then promoted to the Director of Campus Operations.  He increased both internal and external customer service and the number of programs offered on campus.  The census went from a low of 85 to 104.  Significantly reducing the use of seclusion and restraints by increasing the resources available to staff, he was promoted to Campus Administrator. 

Mr. Merritt eventually left Devereux to become Universal Health Services first “CEO In-Training Executive.”  In this position, he served as the Chief-Operating-Officer of the Peachford Behavioral Health Hospital, the state’s largest private psychiatric hospital.  Although an excellent opportunity, it reminded Scott of his desire to serve youth and their families. As a result, Mr. Merritt became the Executive Director of the KidsPeace National Centers of Georgia in 2004 while the facility was still under construction. 

At KidsPeace, Mr. Merritt achieved an average utilization rate of 97%, receiving the Joint Commissions Gold Seal of Approval in 2012 and 2015. He participated in a $2.2 million Capital Campaign that supported the construction of a gymnasium, swimming pool, additional classrooms, library, computer lab and training room.  Knowing that a client’s progress academically while in residential is one of the strongest indicators of success after discharge, he is very proud of the fact that KidsPeace Georgia’s school was recognized by the State for “Excellence in the Education of Students with Disabilities" in 2008 & 2009 and a Reward School in 2014 and nationally recognized by the US News & World Report 2015 Best High Schools.


Department Contacts

Brian P. Scales, Vice President of Development

Danny Langley, Director of Environment of Care 

Karen Gibson, Director of Residential Services

Niesha Turner, Clinical Director

Melvin Travis, Director of Human Resources

Marvin Williams, Headmaster, York Academy

Arleen Wallace, Director of Specialized Foster Care

Kitty Longshore, Controller

Karen Robinson, Director of Nursing

Sarah Bunn, Admissions Coordinator

Pam Kramer, Community Engagement

Scott Fuller, Development and Stewartship Officer

JoAnn Wright, Dietary Services Manager




All Murphy-Harpst children and teenagers are in temporary custody of the  State of Georgia.