Southern Vision Alliance Staff


Elena_EverettElena Everett (Director, SVA)

Elena is the Executive Director of the Southern Vision Alliance.  She has a background in community media, organizing, and program management with community-based organizations and non-profits in the US South.

Elena began organizing at NC State University, where she was active in anti-war and labor solidarity campaigns. She was elected state Chair of the NC Green Party from 2003-2007, which at the age of 23, made her the youngest state Party chair in the country.  She then went to work as a Program Associate at the Institute for Southern Studies.  At ISS she contributed research, writing, and project management support to several publications, including “One Year After Katrina: The State of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,” and “Social Justice Organizing in the US South: A Southern Scan Research Project.” From 2005-2010 Elena was part of the media collective, Independent Voices, which produced a monthly public access program for five years.  During that time, she taught youth documentary summer camps for The People’s Channel, Chapel Hill’s public access television station.

Elena was the Instant Run-off Voting Program Director at FairVote NC from 2007-2008, supporting two city-based IRV pilot programs.  While in that role, she was simultaneously enrolled in a Masters program in Public Administration and Non-Profit Management at NC State University. In the summer of 2008, she was the first staff member to join Anita Earls at the newly formed Southern Coalition for Social Justice, where she worked as the communications director from 2008-2010.  There, she helped low-income communities and communities of color across the region develop organizing and media plans to fight for justice and equity.

In May 2010 she left SCSJ to found the Youth Organizing Institute, a leadership development and base-building project created in response to threats by a newly elected school board majority. Seeing a need for more entry points to organizing for young people, Elena helped to found Ignite NC in fall 2013 and served as the operations director for its NC Vote Defenders program for three years.  She became the Executive Director of the newly established Southern Vision Alliance in August 2014.  Elena currently serves as the Board Treasurer of Blueprint NC. She loves working with young people and helping them realize and actualize their potential as revolutionary game-changers.

alissaAlissa Ellis (Deputy Director, SVA)

Alissa is the Deputy Director at SVA. She completed both her BA (Political Science) and JD at UNC Chapel Hill. While at UNC Law, she led multiple student organizations and focused on providing legal support as a student practitioner in the Juvenile Justice Clinic, criminal record expunction clinics with NC Legal Aid, eugenics compensation clinics with the UNC Law Center for Civil Rights, and providing over 200 pro bono hours of support to low-income people. She was also a student representative to the Juvenile Defense section of the NC Advocates for Justice. After law school, Alissa worked as the first Deputy Director of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill, NC supporting their multiple areas of program work in affordable housing, civil rights education, and youth leadership development through supporting internal operations, fundraising, and compliance. She currently serves an advisory board member of the Durham Solidarity Center (Durham), a leader of the Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools (Chapel Hill-Carrboro), and as a co-chair of the Town of Chapel Hill’s Justice in Action Committee.

feliciaFelicia Arriaga (Operations Director/CFO, SVA)

Felicia is a bilingual latinx organizer in Durham NC. Originally from Western, North Carolina Felicia completed her undergraduate degree and Masters degree from Duke University in Sociology. Felicia is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Duke University. Her dissertation highlights how federal immigration enforcement programs are implemented through local law enforcement in the new immigrant destination of North Carolina. Before joining the Southern Vision Alliance, Felicia worked for Student Action with Farmworkers, building community campaigns through the Adelante Education Coalition. Felicia is a member of the City of Durham Human Relations Commission, on the board of the Durham Solidarity Center, and a involved with the Latino Migration Project at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Loan_headshotLoan Tran (Co-Director, Youth Organizing Institute | Director of Special Projects, SVA)

Loan Tran is a queer, bilingual writer and educator of color based Durham, NC.  Loan has worked on issues of migrant justice, LGBTQ liberation, economic and racial justice and for an end to all interpersonal violence. While in High school, they co-managed the “Drop the i-word” Campaign in Charlotte, NC to challenge media representation of undocumented immigrants and organized as a part of the March On Wall Street South Coalition that mobilized thousands to protest corrupt politics and corporate greed.

Loan was a featured speaker at the Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HKonJ)/Moral March and has had their writing and commentary featured on Black Girl Dangerous, Waging Non-Violence, {Young}ist, New York Times and The Advocate, among others. Following the passage of HB2, Loan became a spokesperson and leader in the repeal effort. They served in the leadership body of the QTPOCC (Queer and Trans People of Color Collective) that called for actions at the governor’s mansion, and across the state. Loan was one of four people who participated in civil disobedience after the passage of the bill.

Loan is a former board member of G.L.S.E.N. and current board member at the Highlander Research and Education Center.  They also serve on the boards the Emergent Fund, a new effort to new LGBT initiatives.  In 2016, Loan helped to create the HB2 Queer Mobilization Fund to move resources for resistance to HB2 led by queer and trans people of color They are the Director of the Youth Organizing Institute and the Communications Director for the Southern Vision alliance. Loan is an expert in organizational development, and popular education-style trainings. Loan envisions a movement for liberation and justice to be one that leaves no one behind so one day we can all be our authentic selves, lead full lives and be free.

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Juan Miranda (Bilingual Project Coordinator, SVA)

Juan Miranda is the bilingual project coordinator at SVA. He is a bilingual researcher, labor, and community organizer based in Greensboro, North Carolina. Originally from Ecuador, he has a passion for the long and deep radical history of multiracial resistance in the U.S. South. He graduated from UNC Greensboro with a B.A. in Sociology and a masters in Public Health Education. Over the past decade, he has been involved in many sections of the movement from anti-war and international solidarity work, to national campaigns for immigrant rights and racial justice, to local efforts against gentrification and education accessibility.  As a student, he helped lead efforts against the expansion of the university into a working class neighborhood and helped establish the North Carolina Student Power Union, which mobilized youth and students from campuses and communities across the state to fight back against Art Pope’s agenda for public higher education. Most recently, Juan was a lead organizer with the Fight for $15, the movement of low-wage workers fighting for a living wage and union rights.


AJ Williams (Finance Associate, SVA)
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Alele J. Williams (“AJ”), is an advocate for entrepreneurship, budding filmmaker and creative individual who has made contributions through organizing work within the trans/POC community in North Carolina. AJ was instrumental in leading the efforts around the Do No Harm campaign with the goal being to eliminate the religious harm done within the Black Church community to LGBTQIA folk.

As an organizer at the Freedom Center for Social Justice, he led the Trans Employment Job Readiness Program, and orchestrated the Transgender Faith and Action Network Retreat. The Retreat brought together national thought leaders to gather in a safe space to discuss the most pressing issues in the trans community. Participants included Diego Sanchez, Policy Advisor at PFLAG, and Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama as the first Transgender White House staff member. AJ also led organizing efforts for the Yes, You Can Go Campaign during the harmful North Carolina statewide legislation passed known as HB2 as an Organizer for The Freedom Center for Social Justice, by encouraging business owners to stand in solidarity with the trans community.


AJ also produced the short mini-documentary “Quiet As It’s Kept” on the secret lives of LGBTQ elders, in association with SAGE USA which premiered at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte, NC.


AJ is also a member of Charlotte NC’s Trans and Queer People of Color Coalition, and served as a member on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s selection committee for the NC Queer Youth Fund, and a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. He was also featured in the Many Voices resource publication, And God Loves Each One: A Black Church Guide to Sexual Orientation.

AJ is also the founder of The Black Coffee Entrepreneur ( blog, which is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship, business ownership, investing and economic empowerment for People of Color of the “millennial” generation. He is also a recipient of Social Impact Leadership and Global Entrepreneurship Certificate from UC Berkeley Haas’ Philanthropy University.


A self-defined amalgam of creativity and technical ability, he would like to contribute to the world by promoting authenticity of spirit, and designing a reality that nurtures everyone’s individual experience.