Metropolitan State University of Denver welcomes James Mejía as its new chief strategy officer. In his new role, Mejía will oversee the coordinated implementation of the University’s strategic plan and support University leadership in assessing programs, partnerships and projects by guiding strategic, inclusive and data-informed decision-making processes.
In addition, he will manage government, corporate and association partnerships and will serve as the University’s primary liaison with the Auraria Higher Education Center Strategic Planning Team. In consultation with the MSU Denver Government Affairs team, he will further engage with external stakeholders to promote city, state and federal legislative strategies that support MSU Denver’s strategic objectives. He will begin his new role with MSU Denver on Tuesday.
“I am very excited to work with the MSU Denver family to implement our strategic plan and reach our goals as a community,” Mejía said. “One of the strategic-plan pillars that especially resonates with me is the first: Student Access, Service and Achievement. I think of this goal as central to the framework of why we are all at MSU Denver. To “attract, prepare and graduate students equipped to succeed in the 21st century” is critical in creating a University atmosphere where students, faculty and staff want to be — an atmosphere that helps create the best place in the state to study and work!”
Mejía is the founder and CEO of Mejía Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in education, organizational management and government relations.
Earlier in his career, Mejía was recruited by former Denver Mayors John Hickenlooper and Wellington Webb to lead and manage some of the city’s most important, complex and challenging agencies and capital projects. He served as the founding president and CEO of the nationally recognized Denver Preschool Program as well as project manager for the $425 million bond project to build the Denver Justice Center.
Mejía also served in Webb’s Cabinet as manager of the Department of Parks and Recreation; deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade; and executive director for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations; and was president and COO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His 2011 mayoral run ended with Mejía in third place among the 10 candidates in what was Denver’s closest mayoral race in history.
A lifelong volunteer and community servant, Mejía was the first Latino elected citywide to serve a four-year role as at-large member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. His contributions led to being named 2009 Community Leader of the Year by 9News and the Denver Chamber Leadership Foundation.
Additionally, Mejía was named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow through the German Marshall Fund and was twice invited to participate in the International Career Advancement Program at the Aspen Institute. He was also a Gates Family Foundation Fellow at Harvard University’s program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government.
“James embodies so many of the values we encourage in our students,” said President Janine Davidson, Ph.D. “His tenacity and personal commitment to education and public service make him a wonderful fit for this role and for MSU Denver. His ideas, experience and ability to build strong and equitable relationships across organizations and sectors will help put MSU Denver at the forefront of important conversations and really showcase the institution as an anchor, partner and changemaker.”
The ninth of 13 children born to educators David and Ophelia Mejía, Mejía is highly invested in his community. He graduated from Denver’s East High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s degree in Business Administration from Arizona State University (where he was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma national honor society) and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, where he studied policy issues at the municipal, state and federal levels. He has eagerly and passionately applied his education and experience to improving the city and state.
“One aspect of the MSU Denver story that I find crucial to share with the Denver community is that over 70% of our graduates stay in the metro Denver area and contribute to our economy and community,” Mejía said. “Our economic, social and political leaders should constantly be reminded that any collaboration with MSU Denver is an investment in the economic well-being of our city and our state.”
In his free time, Mejía is an avid ice-hockey and tennis player, a 73-time marathon finisher and a self-described terrible skier. He is father to three daughters, two just starting university and an eighth-grader who is “a beast on the soccer pitch.”
“In our home, my three girls and I remind each other of our four household rules: First, always try your best; second, there is always an opportunity to learn something new; third, be a community player and bring something valuable to your team, work group or community; and finally, have fun,” Mejía said. “We apply those rules whether we are playing sports, going to school or working. I look forward to applying our home rules at MSU Denver!”