EXETER — Exeter Region Cooperative School District (ERCSD) has named Andres Mejia, of the Seacoast area, as the new director of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) for the school district. Mejia, who has more than a decade of experience in the field, began on August 2.
“The work around diversity, equity, inclusion and justice is critically important and is helping us create an educational community where every student, educator, parent, guardian and community member feels like they belong,” said SAU 16 Superintendent Dr. David Ryan. “Andres has significant experience through his role at NH Listens and has gained a deep understanding of this work through education and the time he has spent with different schools across the state to build and strengthen relationships in our communities.”
In his new role, Mejia will advise and train the senior leadership team and be responsible for guiding efforts and creating opportunities to define, assess and promote diversity, equity, inclusion and justice; educational employment opportunities; and cultural proficiency across the school district, school board and the SAU 16 central office. He will work closely with the various stakeholders and is responsible for prioritizing and operationalizing DEIJ initiatives, especially those dealing with curriculum, cultural competency of the organization, faculty and staff recruitment and retention and professional learning. Building off its long-standing commitment to diversity, ERCSD is believed to be the first school district in New Hampshire to have a full-time DEIJ director.
“When I first got involved in DEIJ work eleven years ago, it was for survival,” said Mejia. “DEIJ work quickly became my passion, and I aimed to make this work the focus of my career. Now, I enjoy working with people from across the state to make NH a place where everyone can feel like they are heard, seen and belong. I am ready for this new journey and looking forward to working alongside all in the ERCSD community.”
Mejia has spent the last four years working as a program manager with NH Listens, a civic engagement initiative of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). NH Listens helps communities talk, listen and act together so communities can work for everyone.
“The Exeter community is getting such a caring, smart and engaging leader in Andres,” said Michele Holt-Shannon, director of NH Listens at the Carsey School. “Andres has been living and working in New Hampshire and he connects with all kinds of people and works from the heart. Anyone who takes the time to get to know him will learn what an honest, forthright and genuine person he is.”
Prior to his time with NH Listens, Meija worked at UNH as a social justice educator, Connect program director and an admissions counselor. He is a member of the board of directors for the Black Lives Matter Seacoast Chapter; an advisory board member for NH Endowment for Health, Race and Equity; Men of Strength, Diversity, Education and Family advisor serving as a mentor for male students of color on campus at UNH and a MLK (named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) Leadership Summit facilitator for its annual three-day social justice conference at UNH.
Even in his new role, Mejia will remain a NH Listens Fellow and provide strategic guidance in school and with youth-based projects. He received his Master of Arts degree in Community Development Policy and Practice from the Carsey School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work, both from UNH.
The Exeter Region Cooperative School District includes Exeter High School, Cooperative Middle School, Seacoast School of Technology and Exeter Adult Education.