The board of directors of Denver Film announced recently that James Mejia has been appointed chief executive officer of the non-profit cultural institution that produces the award-winning Denver Film Festival, the popular summertime series Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre and provides year-round film programming and education at the Sie FilmCenter. Selected after a comprehensive national search that attracted strong applicants from across the United States, the Denver native will begin serving in his new role on Aug. 10.
Over the course of his 25-year career in Denver, Mejia’s accomplishments and community focus have positioned him as one of the city’s most recognized and respected business and civic leaders. As CEO, he will be responsible for directing Denver Film’s overall operations, program delivery, outreach efforts and fundraising. In addition, Mejia will help guide the vision for Denver Film and build upon the organization’s 42-year history of community and industry impact.
He comes to the organization following nine years of operating his own business and political consulting firm, as well as the past three years serving as managing partner of Pan American Business where he helped diverse organizations access new markets across Colorado.
“After some very high profile and significant challenges and successes in my career, I’ve had the opportunity to spend the better part of the past decade running a business where I’ve enjoyed premium flexibility of my time to raise my kids and bring our family to a point that I can now jump back into the fray of running one of our city’s major cultural institutions,” said Mejia who is the father of three children. “I’ve watched and admired Denver Film’s impact on this community for decades and I’m excited to bring my skills and experiences to a team of talented professionals as we help grow and expand this organization in the decades to come. When the diverse cultural patrons of our community look at their annual memberships and charitable commitments, I want Denver Film at the top of their list, right up there with the Denver Zoo, Art Musuem, the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Nature and Science.”
Earlier in his career, Mejia 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/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.
Mejia has also served as manager for the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation; Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade; Executive Director for the Agency for Human Rights and Community Relations; as well as President/COO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His 2011 Mayoral run ended with Mejia in third place among the 10 candidates in what was Denver’s closest Mayoral race in history.
“James impressed our search committee, our board and our staff the way he has impressed our business, political and cultural communities throughout his career,” said Kevin Teng, chair of the Denver Film Board of Directors and the CEO search committee. “He defines commitment and dedication and his accomplishments and proven reputation, as well as his vision for how Denver Film and its programs can expand to impact even larger, diverse audiences, pushed him to the forefront of what was a very competitive field of candidates. Our board was unanimous in approving his appointment and we’re excited to welcome him to our Denver Film family in the weeks ahead.”
A lifelong volunteer and community servant, Mejia was the first Latino elected citywide to serve a four-year role as At-Large Member of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education. In addition, he has received numerous honors for his service and leadership on board and committees for some of the region’s most prominent organizations, foundations and charitable causes.
“From his work behind the scenes to playing a leading role, James is a highly respected and proven collaborator and leader in our community that delivers an understanding, appreciation and vision for Denver Film and the opportunities we have to help further define our city’s cultural influence,” said Denver Film Festival Director Britta Erickson.
The ninth of 13 children born to educators David and Ophelia Mejia, he graduated from Denver’s East High School before going on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame, a Master’s in Business Administration from Arizona State University, where he was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma national honor society, and a Master’s 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.