MEET OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
The leadership team makes decisions in partnership with staff on behalf of the group, honors EJA’s democratic process, upholds our principles of unity, and serves as media and public spokespersons. The Leadership Team provides the visioning and direction for EJA’s work and helps with strategic thinking and planning.
Rukiya Dillahunt retired from the Wake County Public Schools as an administrator in 2010. Rukiya has devoted her entire professional life as an advocate for parents, school personnel and the educational rights of students. Rukiya is an active member in the North Carolina Association of Educators- Wake County Retired Teachers. She served as President of the Wake -North Carolina Association of Educators local for 3 years. Rukiya is a member of Black Workers for Justice and the Fertile Ground. She serves on the Board of the North Carolina Peace Action and the advisory board of the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union. Since her retirement from Wake County Public Schools, Rukiya has been actively involved in the struggle against the School to Prison Pipeline.
Ivanna Gonzalez is a first-generation immigrant from Caracas, Venezuela raised in Miami. She began organizing alongside campus workers as a student at UNC‐Chapel Hill where she got her degree in political science and public policy. She is Deputy Director of Policy & Alignment at Blueprint NC where she supports partners in testing Blueprint's racial equity and collective impact organizing principles through issue‐based campaigns and pilot projects, including police accountability and redistricting reform. Ivanna was previously a college outreach coordinator for the Common Cause NC HBCU Student Action Alliance. She sits on the boards of Democracy NC and the Ignite NC Action Fund.
Iliana Santillan was born in Mexico City to a Chilango (CDMX) father and a Purepecha (Michoacán) mother. She moved to the United States in the 90s and spent her teenage years in Washington State. Iliana loves the warm weather and the South in general, so she made the decision to leave the West Coast and move to North Carolina in 2003. Iliana worked as an ESL Instructional Assistant and developed a passion for teaching and education, she got her teaching degree from Meredith College in 2008 and taught ESL in Sanford and Apex for about 10 years. Her passion and determination to do more for her community lead her to NCSU where she got her Masters in Family Life and Youth Development in 2015. Iliana transitioned from being a teacher to becoming a well-known community organizer. She worked at El Pueblo for 4 years, her work consisted of working with youth and adult community leaders to push for drivers licenses and in-state tuition. Iliana also served as NC Director Juntos, an NC State University's program with the mission to help Latino students achieve high school graduation and attend higher education. Currently, Iliana is the People's Power Director at Poder NC Action.
Was born and raised in North Carolina. There a many things Teia loves about North Carolina including sweet tea, Bojangles’ and college basketball. Teia mostly loves getting to see all of the state while assisting Carolina Common Enterprise (CCE)'s clients. "From the beauty of the mountains in the west, to the beaches along the coast — North Carolina is ultimately a great place to call home" Teia said. In her role as Associate Director at Carolina Common Enterprise Teia provides technical assistance and training in developing cooperative economies across the state. Teia also works to advance the cooperative ecosystem in North and South Carolina and oversees the internship program to train future cooperative developers across the country. Her previous work includes experience in business development and work with nonprofits, particularly in the areas of regulatory compliance, media production, promotions, and public relations. Tei holds a Juris Doctor and MBA from North Carolina Central University, a B.S. in Communications from Morgan State University, and a CooperationWorks training (The Art and Science of Cooperative Development training program).