MEET OUR FOUNDING BOARD MEMBERS
Our founding board members make 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 Board 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 the former Deputy Director of Policy & Alignment at Blueprint NC where she supported 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.
lliana 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 former People's Power Director at Poder NC Action and the current Executive Director of El Pueblo.
Was born and raised in North Carolina. There are 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).
La-Mine is a mom, advocate, and lifelong learner. For nearly 20 years, La-Mine has worked to advocate for programs and policies that support children and families. La-Mine's professional journey began in New York while working to support youth in foster care and young parents transitioning into independent living at SC-O Family Services. Working at SC-O, helped fuel La-Mine's interest in working to ensure that families and youth have a voice in the solutions to the challenges that they face. A New York native La-Mine relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina in January 2004. Since moving to Raleigh, NC, much of La-Mine's work has focused on working to improve systems and policies that impact children and families. Prior to joining NC Child, La-Mine was the Professional Education Coordinator at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina where she oversaw the development, coordination, and implementation of PCNAC’s Professional Education program. Currently, La-Mine works to engage parents, youth, and community members in advocating for pro-child and pro-equity policies in North Carolina in her current role as the Assistant Director of Community Engagement at NC Child.
She is the proud parent of four children; three of whom have graduated from a Wake County Public School. As a mother who has had to navigate the public school system to ensure that the unique needs of each child are met, La-Mine understands the importance of school support in shaping a child's future. In addition to advocating professionally, she has been involved in education advocacy efforts through serving on school PTAs, School Improvement Teams, and working with various education advocacy organizations. La-Mine is a graduate of NC State University where she earned a BSW and MSW degrees. La-Mine lives in Fuquay-Varina with her husband Joe, daughter Lillian, and Cockapoo. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, and attending community events with her family.
Lauren Fox is the Senior Director of Policy at the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Her work involves leading research, policy analysis, and advocacy efforts to support an equitable system of public education in North Carolina, with a particular focus on adequate and equitable school funding; teacher recruitment, retention, and support; and racial equity. She also serves as co-chair of the Color of Education Guiding Committee. Lauren grew up in Charlotte, NC, and is a proud graduate of Charlotte- Mecklenburg public schools. She attended the University of North Carolina, Asheville, where she worked as the lead education researcher with The State of Black Asheville project. Prior to returning to North Carolina, Lauren lived for ten years in New York City, where she earned her Ph.D. in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. In New York, she worked as a researcher for the Public Good and the Center for Understand Race and Education, where her work focused on school segregation/integration and school choice. She also provided research and policy consulting for the Ford Foundation, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
M. Alex Evans
M. Alex Evans currently works as a staff attorney on Disability Rights North Carolina’s education team. He completed his PhD in Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he researched issues surrounding the history of education justice, racism, punishment, and schools, with a particular focus on Wake County public schools. He is a proud double graduate of North Carolina Central University. First graduating with a Bachelors in Music/Ethnomusicology and then a Law degree with an interest in civil rights and education law. He loves enjoying live music jam sessions both as a listener and participant, and as a native of Fuquay-Varina, NC he loves supporting all NCCU & UNC sports. Weekend Netflix and YouTube binges just might be one of his most favorite guilty pleasures by far, followed closely by eating good food and losing track of time while coolin it with those he loves most.