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Department selects Dr. Roberto Montoya as first-ever chief educational equity officer

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DENVER – Aug. 10, 2021: The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) announced today it will hire Dr. Roberto Montoya, of Race Forward— the largest racial justice organization in the country— to take on the new position of chief educational equity officer.

The position supports the Department’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and promotes the vision of a Colorado higher education community that is inclusive and deliberate in erasing the persistent equity gaps in educational attainment across all student demographic categories. The chief educational equity officer serves as a catalyst and advocate for educational equity initiatives and systemic change at Colorado’s institutions of higher education to develop quick and sustaining results that support historically underrepresented and marginalized students.

"Dr. Montoya has deep DEI expertise and demonstrated skill in community and stakeholder engagement in Colorado," said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of CDHE. "We look forward to Dr. Montoya’s leadership in developing and implementing DEI strategies, initiatives, and programs."

During the 2021 legislative session, the Colorado State Senate passed a funding increase for a new chief equity officer position in the 2022 budget.

"Given my work and research in education, I was deeply inspired to see the creation of this role within CDHE this past legislative session. As a young, capable, bright, albeit unruly Chicano from the barrios of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I was the underserved student that so many educational policies and equity programs targeted," said Dr. Montoya. "I have never forgotten what it was like to be this young person needing these necessary supports throughout my academic career. Thus, I have dedicated my life’s work and research to equity and to advocating for education to be an inclusive space for all students to thrive with dignity, and this role allows me to continue this work across the entire state."

Dr. Montoya has worked and researched at all levels of the educational system—he began his career as a diversity recruiter for Colorado Mesa University and traveled across the state and Southwest to recruit students from diverse populations. He worked in enrollment at Regis University, and more recently, at the University of Colorado Denver as an instructor and on various research projects and grants that focused on educational equity and justice in public PK-12 schools, including Mapleton Public Schools, Boulder Valley School District, and Denver Public Schools. He has also worked in the private sector for two different Fortune 500 companies. In these roles, he led dynamic and diverse teams that focused on equity initiatives and advocacy programs. He served as the manager of diversity and engagement for the City and County of Denver at Denver International Airport. In his position at Race Forward, he is the west regional manager for the Government Alliance on Race and Equity. He is responsible for working with, coaching, and guiding mayors, city managers, city councils, and appointed officials in crafting, establishing, implementing, and honing policies, practices, procedures, and legislation that focuses on equity.

Dr. Montoya holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education from University Colorado Denver, a master’s degree in ethnic studies from Regis University, and a bachelor’s degree from Colorado Mesa University. His start date is Aug. 30, 2021.

About the Colorado Department of Higher Education

Working with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education, we support students, advocate and develop policies to maximize higher education opportunities for all. The Department believes every Coloradan should have an education beyond high school to pursue their dreams and improve our communities. Read the CDHE strategic plan Colorado Rises.