Denver Film on Tuesday named Mile High City civic and business veteran James Mejia as its new CEO and president after a 15-month stretch without a permanent leader.
Mejia, a Denver native who was selected after a nationwide search, will begin his new role at the state’s largest nonprofit film organization on Aug. 10.
“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,” Mejia said in a press statement.
Mejia has 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; and president/COO of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Denver Film officials said.
In addition, he worked as the founding president and CEO of the Denver Preschool Program, as well as project manager for the $425 million bond project to build the Denver Justice Center. Meija also ran for mayor of Denver in 2011, where he finished third out of 10 candidates.
“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, in a statement. “Our board was unanimous in approving his appointment and we’re excited to welcome him to our Denver Film family in the weeks ahead.”
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Mejia does not, however, seem to have much (if any) experience in film, instead spending the last 25 years of his career on complex civic and commercial projects. His announcement as CEO ends more than a year of uncertainty at Denver Film, which programs and produces the Denver Film Festival and Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, as well as running the arthouse Sie FilmCenter on East Colfax Avenue.
Last year, Denver Film artistic director Brit Withey died in a single-car accident in southern Colorado, followed weeks later by the resignation of then-CEO Andrew Rodgers. Staffers such as Britta Erickson, who directs the Denver Film Festival, stepped in as interim CEO for a time.
“From his work behind the scenes to playing a leading role, James is a highly respected and proven collaborator and leader in our community,” Erickson said in a press statement.
As CEO, Mejia will direct Denver Film’s overall operations, program delivery, outreach efforts and fundraising, as well as planning for the future — such as recruiting younger, more diverse members, given that Denver Film’s membership base skews heavily older and white.
“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 Museum, the Botanic Gardens and the Museum of Nature and Science,” Mejia said.
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