John Mejia Joins ACLU of Utah as New Legal Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2012
The ACLU of Utah is pleased to announce the hiring of John Mejia as our new Legal Director, as we bid a fond farewell to our Interim Legal Director, Joe Cohn. John has been training and getting up to speed with Joe’s able assistance. John begins as full time Legal Director today.
“We are thrilled to welcome John to the ACLU of Utah as Legal Director,” said Karen McCreary, Executive Director of the ACLU of Utah. “Because he grew up here, John knows and cares about Utah, and his educational and professional background will make him a great fit to lead our growing legal program.”
“I am excited to serve as Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah,” John said. “Throughout my career, public service has been of utmost importance to me, so this is my dream job. I have always believed that the ACLU and the ACLU of Utah serve a vital function of protecting the civil rights of everyone, from the most powerful to the least among us. I look forward to being able to work to advance civil rights here in my hometown of Salt Lake and throughout Utah.”
Under Joe’s leadership, our legal program has continued to flourish over the past five months. In addition to keeping our litigation moving forward without interruption, Joe spearheaded the ACLU of Utah’s efforts to protect the rights of protestors, successfully called for an independent investigation into the conduct of the Roosevelt Police Department officers who pepper sprayed Haka dancers, and has been on the forefront of campaigns to protect the rights of LGBT students. Joe is returning to his home in Philadelphia to head the legislative policy department of FIRE, a national civil rights organization focusing on university campuses. Joe will also remain of counsel to the ACLU of Utah. “It has been a tremendous privilege for me to work with the ACLU of Utah to advance the cause of civil rights for all people in Utah,” Joe commented.
We look forward to a bright future with John as Legal Director. John grew up in Salt Lake City and attended Brown University, where he majored in English and American Literature. At Brown, John served as president of the Latin American Student Organization. After graduating from Brown, John worked for one year as a supervisor of intake volunteers at Utah Legal Services with a grant from AmeriCorps. John then attended the University of Chicago Law School, where he graduated with honors in 2003. In law school, was honored with the Tony Patiño Fellowship, a merit based scholarship awarded to law students based on demonstrated leadership, public service and achievement. For four years after law school, John was a litigation attorney in the insurance group at the law firm of Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago, Illinois. During his time at Sidley, John was actively involved in serving the community, including teaching constitutional law to elementary school children and coaching high school mock trial teams.
In 2008, John returned to Salt Lake to serve in the federal courts as a law clerk. John and his wife decided that it was important for them and their two young children to be closer to their family here. John is actively licensed as an attorney in Illinois, and his application for admission by motion to the Utah State Bar is currently pending.