The Exeter Region Cooperative School District is believed to be the first district in New Hampshire to hire a full-time director of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
The district this week announced the appointment of Seacoast resident Andres Mejia to the newly created position.
Mejia began his new role Monday.
The Exeter Region Cooperative School District includes Exeter High School, Cooperative Middle School, Seacoast School of Technology and Exeter Adult Education.
According to school officials, 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.”
Mejia will also focus on educational employment opportunities and cultural proficiency across the school district, school board and the School Administrative Unit 16 central office, the district said.
“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. 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,” SAU 16 Superintendent David Ryan said in a press release.
For the last four years, Mejia has served as a program manager with New Hampshire Listens, a civic engagement initiative of the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
Meija has also worked at UNH as a social justice educator, Connect program director and an admissions counselor. He’s a member of the board of directors for the Seacoast chapter of Black Lives Matter, an advisory board member for N.H. Endowment for Health, Race and Equity, a Men of Strength, Diversity, Education and Family adviser serving as a mentor for male students of color on campus at UNH, and a MLK Leadership Summit facilitator for its annual social justice conference at UNH.
“When I first got involved in DEIJ work 11 years ago, it was for survival. 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 New Hampshire 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 (Exeter Region Cooperative School District) community,” Mejia said.