Maine College of Art & Design Introduces New Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Leader Mercedes Garcia Orozco 

Garcia will work directly with students as Assistant Director of Student Life

PORTLAND, ME January 10, 2023Maine College of Art & Design (MECA&D) today announced its appointment of Mercedes Garcia Orozco (she/her) to the role of Assistant Director of Student Life with a focus on Diversity, Equity, and Belonging, effective Monday, January 9, 2023. In her newly-created role, Garcia will build upon the College’s strategic goal of developing the culture of social justice and racial equity described in the school’s Strategic Plan: Envisioning Our Future 2027.

Garcia comes to Maine College of Art & Design from her work at Charlestown High School in the Boston Public School district, where more than 65 percent of the student body she served spoke Spanish as a first language. In her position as Family Liaison, Garcia was responsible for supporting all families from Charlestown High School and representing their voices in the school’s decision making.

"From our first conversation, Mercedes was interested in the idea of belonging and how to create a welcome, affirming experience for Maine College of Art & Design students,” recalled Melvin D. Adams III, Dean of Student Life for the College. “She is a passionate educator dedicated to supporting and guiding students to achieve their college goals, navigating conversations that empower, and lifting up student voices and experiences in our work.”

In addition to building trust and creating new opportunities for student and family engagement during her three-year tenure at Charlestown High School, Garcia gained deep experience at Charlestown that she will draw from in her role at Maine College of Art & Design as she helps new college students navigate the transition into higher education. In other positions, Garcia guided first generation high school students in the college application process at The Steppingstone Foundation, prepared students with career skills at Cristo Rey High School, and developed positive growth for students at City Year Boston, Bridge Boston Charter School, and Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex (WSWHE) BOCES.

“My personal experience in education, and my work in various social service agencies, have only strengthened my belief in the power of education,” said Garcia. “Growing up in an immigrant family with a single mother, and in predominantly white institutions, I was constantly in spaces where I had to create my own path and push myself to the table to make my voice heard. As a member of the Maine College of Art & Design community, I will bring an open mindset, cultural humility, and kindness in my work as I actively engage in diversity, equity, and belonging efforts that help students feel comfortable and safe in their environment.”

Garcia holds a Master of Social Work, with a concentration on children, youth, and families from Boston College School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Skidmore College.

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For 140 years, Maine College of Art & Design has activated students of all pursuits to make art, make an impact, and inspire change. Located in Portland's thriving Arts District, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, 24-hour-a-day studios, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a community-based Artists at Work program—making the College the right place for students who want to make their mark and be seen. Maine College of Art & Design offers BFA Majors and Minors, Graduate Programs, Continuing Studies, Pre-College, and includes the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Follow us at @mecaart.