Mercedes Quesada-Embid, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Environmental Policy and Advocacy

Shuford Science Building
  • Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Advocacy
  • Ph.D., Antioch University New England
  • M.A., Salisbury University
  • B.S., Salisbury University
  • B.A., Salisbury University

Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid is Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Advocacy at Catawba College. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, a Master’s in History, and two Bachelor’s degrees: one in Spanish Language and Culture and the other in the Biological Sciences. Her professional and personal background help to keep her attuned to the search for whole picture solutions for the pressing challenges of our world today. She is the faculty member in the ENV Department who most directly links the social and natural sciences within a sustainability lens in her coursework.

She is a transdisciplinary scholar with research and teaching interests spanning the social and natural sciences, always with a clear concern for ecological integrity, equitable political-economies, and the building of truly democratic societies through strong community capacity. Dr. Quesada-Embid believes that the youth carry a wisdom that society must be willing to tap into, in order for change to truly take hold. She believes that service, experiential learning, and critical inquiry are key elements to successful knowledge acquisition and is intent on cultivating an academic experience in the classroom that is impactful, influential and inspirational to students’ daily lives.  Thus, her varied courses taught gravitate toward and explore an array of eco-egalitarian concerns, including, the significant role of social movements and indigenous science as they enhance local resilience and global sustainability efforts.

Dr. Quesada-Embid believes that inclusive policy and purposeful advocacy work can foster viable pathways toward cultural, economic, and ecological justice. She has a strong desire to empower a hope-and-agency-rich impact on the injustices prevalent in our communities and larger societal and institutional frameworks. She believes that in our globalized world, sustainability has become the work of our time; thus, an understanding of the relationship among environmental racism, food justice, and systemic oppressions; in particular, the need for effective policy-making imbued with an integrated climate justice ethic, centers deeply in her work.

She is founder and co-chair of the Equity, Diversity, Justice and Inclusion (EDJI) Task Force at Catawba College. This Task Force won AASHE's inaugural Racial Equity and Sustainability Collaborations award in 2021, an amazing honor. She serves as chair of the NAACP’s Environmental Justice and Climate Program Committee of the Salisbury-Rowan NC Chapter. She serves as an Advisory Board Member to the GALS NC Program, ensuring that the sustainability science and outdoor recreational experiences are accessible to female-identifying youth from underrepresented communities. She also serves on the board of Happy Roots, a nature-as-therapy and food-security-through-community-gardens nonprofit, and is a board member of the Center for Faith and the Arts in Salisbury. She is also an instructor of the Unanue Program, emphasizing mentorship and early college access to Latinx high school students in Rowan County. Lastly, she serves on the Board of the Reimagining America Project, focused on systemic change through truth, reconciliation and atonement to put an end to white supremacy: her work is as a commissioner on the Environmental Justice committee. She is an active member of many national and international scholarly associations relevant to the broad fields of environmental studies and sustainability.

Dr. Quesada-Embid is certified by a variety of equity literacy and racial justice organizations and leads trainings on EDJI-related initiatives within Catawba College, as well as in the community. She teaches courses within the Environment and Sustainability Department incorporating equity, solidarity, and anti-oppression work into the core of the curriculum. Through her campus initiatives, coursework, research, community engagement and advocacy, she fosters direct partnerships with local, regional and international individuals excited to make a positive change in our world.
Dr. Mercedes now lives in Salisbury with her partner of 20 years and her two children. You can usually find her on campus organizing speaker events and sustainability activities for students. She enjoys playing table-top games with her family, reading excellent non-fiction, hiking and rock climbing in beautiful nature, and taking the time to make her little ones smile and laugh. If you get connected with her, you may be fortunate to join one of her international field experiences exploring Ecological Entrepreneurship in Spain or Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. Reach out and learn more about her work at Catawba in the Environmental Policy and Advocacy concentration!