Introducing our new Executive Director

This past February, shortly after Kathy Gin announced she’d be stepping down from her role, we launched the search for Immigrants Rising’s next Executive Director. A Transition Committee, which included myself and members of our staff and provisional board, hired Axis Talent Partners, an executive search firm with a strong track record of recruiting BIPOC leaders for mission-driven organizations.

We received dozens of impressive applications from around the country and after several rounds of competitive interviews, we limited the pool to a small group of outstanding finalists until a new director was ultimately selected by the provisional board.

Today I’m very pleased to announce the appointment of Iliana G. Perez, Ph.D. as our new Executive Director!

Photos of Dr. Perez speaking at the CSUSB 2023 Stepping into the Future: Empowering Undocumented Students in the Workplace Conference and Immigrants Rising 2019 California Campus Catalyst Fund Convening.

Photo of Abdi Soltani. “After a thorough period of preparation and a rigorous search, I am thrilled that Iliana will be serving as the next Executive Director of Immigrants Rising. The board is excited to work closely with her as the organization enters this new phase.” — Abdi Soltani, Provisional Board Chair & Transition Committee Member

Dr. Perez has served as Immigrants Rising’s Director of Research & Entrepreneurship since 2019 and has been an active member of the IR community since 2012. She brings over a decade of experience as a researcher and advocate for immigrant rights and is an esteemed leader in the field of immigrant entrepreneurship. Under her direction, our entrepreneurship program has transformed from a modest set of resources to a multi-million dollar grant and training initiative.

Dr. Perez holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fresno State, as well as a master’s degree in economics and a Ph.D. in education policy from Claremont Graduate University. An immigrant to the U.S. from Mexico, she grew up in the California Central Valley and was undocumented for 27 years before recently adjusting her status.

Dr. Perez (center) at the Milken Institute 2017 California Summit.

I am delighted to pass the baton to Iliana and to see her bring her passion, talents, and deep knowledge of Immigrants Rising to this role.

“When I met Iliana, she opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial mindset I’d unknowingly developed over the years spent working with my mom at the flea market, and encouraged me to tap into it. To me, she embodies the expansiveness and possibility of our undocumented community. I’m thrilled to continue to shape the future of Immigrants Rising under her leadership.” — Estefanía Hermosillo, SEED Grant & Application Manager Photo of Estefanía Hermosillo

You’ll hear more from Iliana soon. In the meantime, check out some of the latest updates from Immigrants Rising below. For questions about this leadership transition, you can reach out to me at Thank you for all your support along this journey!

In community,

Alejandra Guillen
Deputy Director
Immigrants Rising