Anya Dillard is an activist, social entrepreneur, and creative change agent who was an exceptionally active community builder long before she came to college. She founded a charity at the age of five to provide clothes, undergarments, toys, musical instruments to young children with severe physical and neurological disabilities. She would go on to found a nonprofit that encourages youth to pursue activism, get involved in community service, and raise awareness of social issues through creating though-provoking works of art. From this platform, she organized the largest civil rights demonstration in her hometown’s history, galvanizing more than 3,000 people to join together in common purpose. As a member of Rutgers-Newark’s Honors Living-Learning Community and its Honors College, she has organized members of the campus community to stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones to police violence and to advocate for legislative reform locally and statewide. Anya is a once-in-a-generation leader who embodies the values, ideals, and abiding principles of lifelong learning, equity, social justice, imagination, and community engagement and is able to inspire others to take action to make a difference.
I’m an activist, social entrepreneur, and creative change-agent who’s been involved in socio-political change-making since I was 12, but my journey as a woman of service began when I was just 5 years old. Back in 2008, I started my very first charity initiative that has since raised thousands of dollars annually to provide clothes, undergarments, toys, musical instruments, and more to children (ages newborn to 18) suffering from severe physical and neurological disabilities throughout the tristate area. In 2018, I founded The Next Gen Come Up - a 501(c)3 non-profit that encourages youth to pursue activism, get involved in community service, and raise awareness through creating thought-provoking works of art. In my community, I’m best known for contributing to the largest civil rights demonstration in my town’s history (garnering an audience of 3,000+ people), delivering a speech that gained over 26,000 views, helping to organize my town’s first-ever Juneteenth celebration, and being elected president of the first all-female, all POC, Student Council cabinet in my high school’s history. I’ve also helped to organize countless outreach efforts fighting for victims of gun violence and school shootings, raising money to eradicate period poverty, and advocating for climate change awareness.