Carlos Romero has announced his intention to transition from his role as executive director of Mennonite Education Agency, effective in July. The MEA board of directors accepted his announcement at a March 8-9 meeting with regret and deep appreciation for his passionate commitment to Mennonite education and decades of faithful service to the church and its schools.
Romero has served as executive director since the formation of MEA in 2002, guiding the new agency’s mission to strengthen the life, witness and identity of Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) through education. In recent years, he led the board and schools to enlarge their vision from “schools for Mennonites” to “Mennonite schools for all” in response to the increasing need for a distinctively Anabaptist witness in education.
“Romero’s work has positioned MEA well for future success,” says Richard Thomas, MEA board chair. “During the past few years, Carlos led MEA to make many changes in structure and style of operation, with stakeholder input, creating a dynamic organization that cultivates the soil in which Mennonite schools and educational programs can continue to flourish.”
Thomas says that after the board provided a positive review of Romero’s work, Romero discerned that this is the right time to transition to a new person to lead MEA into the future.
Providing guidance for early childhood through higher education, as well as leadership training in Hispanic congregations, Romero worked with MEA staff during his tenure to support school administrators and staff, organize resource events, provide resources for board development, and communicate a vibrant vision for Mennonite education throughout the church and beyond. He provided guidance to numerous college presidential searches throughout his tenure, most recently working with search committees in a season of transitions during which five of six Mennonite colleges and universities successfully selected new presidents, with a sixth process currently underway.
“I appreciate Carlos’ empathic and hospitable personality that always makes space for grace, especially amid conflict and controversy,” says long-time MEA board member Addie Banks. “It was always a joy to work with Carlos. For those of us on the margins, Carlos’ leadership at MEA meant that we had a seat at the table. He will be greatly missed.”
A significant part of Romero’s work has involved training leaders for intercultural competency. He co-founded Developing Harmony through Diversity, a 1990s initiative of the Mennonite Church for dismantling racism. As a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Diversity Inventory, he has trained boards and more than 1,000 leaders on the importance of working to end racism at the institutional level.
“Carlos has been an inspiration to many, and his work with Racial Ethnic Leadership Education (RELE) has greatly influenced people of color in our denomination,” says Glen Guyton, executive director of MC USA, adding his gratitude for Romero’s pioneering work as director of convention planning for Mennonite Board of Congregational Ministries (MBCM). “We are thankful for his dedication to this church and Anabaptists around the world.”
Prior to his 17 years of ministry with MEA, Carlos served as vice president of student life and dean of students at Goshen (Indiana) College from 1999 to 2002, during which time he and his wife, Celina, led the first group of students in the Study-Service Term program to Cuba. He worked from 1990 to 1999 as denominational minister of youth for MBCM, where he directed Mennonite youth conventions, and attendance grew from 1,800 to more than 6,500. Romero served from 1985 to 1990 as the administrator for Academia Menonita, a Mennonite pre-K to grade 12 school in Summit Hills, San Juan, Puerto Rico, with more than 600 students.
“I’ve been privileged and am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve MC USA through MEA,” Romero said in his remarks to the board. “During these years I have seen many things, experienced many settings, talked to so many people and preached in many pulpits. These are all treasured memories I will carry in my heart. I will always be grateful to have served alongside so many others working toward the goal of strengthening Mennonite education for all.
“I believe it is the right time for this transition, allowing the next leader to take MEA to the next level, building on what has been accomplished and helping the organization continue to serve Mennonite education at all levels as part of the missional calling of MC USA.”
Thomas says the board plans to appoint an interim executive director, followed by the selection of a search committee to seek a new executive director. “The board accepted Romero’s resignation with regret and with thankfulness for his faithful leadership during the past 17 years as well as with blessings for new avenues of leadership and service,” Thomas says.u
Have a comment on this story? Write to the editors. Include your full name, city and state. Selected comments will be edited for publication in print or online.