Iliana Perez

Director or Research & Entrepreneurship, Immigrants Rising

Iliana G. Perez, Ph.D. is the Director or Research & Entrepreneurship at Immigrants Rising, where she oversees the research and evaluation agenda of the organization, as well as the entrepreneurship programming. Immigrant Rising’s entrepreneurship programming, launched by Dr. Perez in a previous role, encourages all immigrants, regardless of status, to create their own opportunities, earn a living, and thrive through entrepreneurship. Dr. Perez is also a lecturer in the Labor Studies Department at UCLA.

Her research focuses on immigrant entrepreneurs, the occupational and educational attainment of immigrant students, the effects of deportation on the lives of young adults, and economics of immigration. Dr. Perez has shared her story and presented her work to various audiences across the country via keynotes and research presentations at professional conferences, organizations and college campuses. Her personal story, as well as her work have been featured in several media outlets including LA Times, Business Insider, CNN, CNNE, The Huffington Post, Univision, La Opinion, Radio Bilingue and various other journals, blogs and newspapers around the world.

Dr. Perez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico alongside her mother, father and younger brother to the U.S. at the age of eight. She grew up in the California Central Valley and navigated the educational system as an undocumented student for 18 years until she became a DACA recipient in 2013. Dr. Perez holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Fresno State, a M.A. in Economics from Claremont Graduate University and a Ph.D. in Education Policy, Evaluation and Reform, also from Claremont Graduate University.