Iliana Perez

Unt 18 Faculty


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Iliana G. Perez, Ph.D. is the newly appointed Executive Director of Immigrants Rising, an organization that empowers undocumented people to achieve their educational and career goals through personal, institutional and policy transformation.

Dr. Perez has pioneered efforts to empower and support undocumented entrepreneurs through resource development, training, and ecosystem building across the U.S. In 2020, Dr. Perez played a significant role in shaping the SEED program—a multi-million dollar initiative aimed at offering entrepreneurship education, financial support, and technical assistance to immigrant entrepreneurs throughout the state of California. In 2021, Dr. Perez successfully secured a $5.4M SEED grant, with the aim of scaling their entrepreneurship endeavors, and subsequently obtained an additional $2M in funding in 2022. Through SEED, Immigrants Rising has offered entrepreneurship training to over 1,700 individuals and has disbursed over $5M in micro grants to more than 1,000 immigrant entrepreneurs.

Dr. Perez immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico with her family to the U.S. at the age of eight. She grew up in the California Central Valley and was undocumented for 27 years before adjusting her status. Iliana holds a B.A. in Mathematics from Fresno State, a M.A. in Economics and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from Claremont Graduate University.

Courses Taught

LBR STDS M166B Research on Immigrant Rights, Labor and Higher Education

LBR STD 188 Data for Immigrant Justice

Research Principles, Methods and Practices


Immigrant entrepreneurs, the occupational and educational attainment of immigrant students, and economics of immigration