Founder & President
Anya Dillard is a 19-year-old activist, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, content creator, and aspiring filmmaker. She is also the founder of The Next Gen Come Up – a 501(c)3 nonprofit that encourages young people to explore activism, pursue community service, and raise awareness through creative expression.
In her community, Anya is best known for helping to organize the largest civil rights protests in West Orange history (garnering an audience of over 3,000 people), co-organizing her town’s first-ever Juneteenth Celebration, contributing to her high school's first climate strike walkout, and being appointed as president of the first all-female all POC Student Council cabinet in her high school’s history. Most recently, Anya partnered with The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation and co-founded the Youth Never Let Up Coalition – a collective of Gen Z organizers that are collectively working with the Till family to organize actions demanding justice for Emmett Till and push for Carolyn Bryant Donham to face federal charges for her involvement in Till’s lynching.
Throughout her high school career, she helped to organize countless protests demanding justice for victims of gun violence and school shootings, demanding changes to exclusionary dress code policies, and advocating for climate change awareness. During the fall of 2019, Anya created the “#MyRedStripe” – an annual social media image activism campaign geared towards raising awareness and money for period poverty and eradicating period shame in schools.
Following the massive Black Lives Matter protest she and her peers organized in 2020, Anya continued organizing Black Lives Matter rallies in partnership with other elected officials and town leaders including former Congressional candidate Akil Khalfani, and West Orange’s first black town councilwoman, Tammy Williams. She also sat in on meetings with her town’s mayor and helped to edit ordinances pertaining to antibias training of law enforcement officials, racial discrimination in schools, and economic disparities between predominantly black/Latinx elementary schools and predominantly white elementary schools. While Anya’s career as an activist goes back half a decade, her journey as a woman of service goes back even further. When Anya was just 5 years old, she started her first charity initiative – an annual holiday gift-giving program for the long-term care pediatric division of Rutland Nursing Home at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.
Since its creation, Anya’s Holiday Gift Giving Charity has raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide blankets, clothes, undergarments, toys, musical instruments, and more to children (ages newborn to 18) suffering from severe physical and neurological disabilities. Today, Anya hosts and actively raises money for dozens of other mutual aid efforts, including the back-to-school supply and coat drives that she hosts annually for the children of Sierra House – a group home shelter in East Orange, NJ that caters to single mothers escaping homelessness and domestic violence. In addition to her work in communities across America, Anya has also contributed to countless efforts in countries all over the world including Guyana, Ghana, Jamaica, and India.
As a result of her many accomplishments and extensive advocacy work, Anya has been featured by countless networks and media publications including The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, Instagram, Red Table Talk, REVOLT TV, Elle, Seventeen, Afropunk, and Glamour Magazines. She was also honored as a part of McDonald’s Future 22 and Ulta Beauty’s Muse 100, receiving dozens of other social justice and community engagement awards including the Conversationalist Human Rights Award, and the 2021 New Jersey Association of Student Councils’ Student Leader of the Year Award to name a few. When she isn’t organizing, giving back to communities in need, or creating content to amplify POC representation, Anya works as a youth mentor and public speaker. She has served as a keynote speaker at dozens of political forums including The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative University event (hosted in partnership with Howard University). She has also spoken at schools all over the world — from middle schools in California and New York to universities all the way in the UK — teaching other young people how to pursue activism and become leaders in their own life paths.
As a student herself, Anya didn't just excel in the classroom. She was also involved in some of the most competitive leadership programs in the country, graduating from The BLACK GIRLS ROCK (BLACK GIRLS Lead) Conference — a leadership program created by DJ Beverly Bond in partnership with BET, Girls With Impact — a virtual entrepreneurship program powered by Harvard Business School (2020), and The Young Diplomats Program at Hampton University (2019). Anya graduated from West Orange High School with honors in June of 2021 — after receiving 5 leadership and community service awards — and is now a student of the Rutgers University Newark Honors College and Honors Living Learning Community (HLLC), double majoring in Journalism and Video Production with a minor in Social Justice. Anya, who is currently a part-time strategist for Freedom March NYC, Newman Civic Fellow, and NNSC Reporting Fellow, has goals of becoming a media mogul and “creative change agent” that utilizes her visionary talent and understanding of intersectionality to heighten the prevalence of empowering characters of color in film, television, and media.