Danica Dilligard was born in Panama but grew up in Brooklyn and went to high school in Manhattan. She currently sits on the LAA board and is a partner at EY. She is the mother to three and a “Gigi” of two beautiful grandbabies.
Why support the LAA?
Danica: The LAA is so multifaceted that I was instantly drawn to [the organization], but I love the advocacy piece out of anything else at the LAA! Also, the support of minority-owned business is close to my heart. I lead a lot of efforts through EY’s entrepreneurship program, including the Entrepreneur Access Network which is geared around Black and Latinos who want to start their own businesses. Anything that supports women and Latinas navigate through the process of starting their own business has been one of my passions.
Danica’s passions and EY’s social responsibility focus areas fully align with the LAA’s new strategic planning: Workforce development & job placement and entrepreneurship and business resources. Two of EY’s social responsibility focus areas are supporting the next-generation workforce and working with impact entrepreneurs.
What is your connection to Atlanta?
Danica grew through the firm for the most part and interestingly enough, she moved to Atlanta after EY offered her a unique position where she would focus on quality efforts all around Latin America. All the way from Mexico to Argentina. With this role, she says “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of both sides of my heritage. My Black heritage and Latin heritage.” Not only was she required to learn one culture, but there were also multiple cultures she needed to learn which made her new role a full-on adventure.
Although she grew up more connected to her Black heritage due to the color of her skin, she takes pride in her Latin heritage equally.
Although she misses New York, she loves the south and Atlanta. One of the most pleasant surprises after moving was the strong Latin community in Atlanta. Through her internal relationships, she’s been exposed to the different nonprofit organizations around Atlanta, including the LAA. In years past, some EY professionals had volunteered for the Compañeros Awards Luncheon and with that, she was able to go to her first LAA event and see EY’s presence.
Danica is very involved with several organizations around Atlanta, but she says “there is something about the LAA that always spoke to me” so after she met our CEO Santiago Marquez, she expressed her interest in being a part of the LAA board. After a couple of years of persistence, Danica is now an integral part of the LAA board.
As an Afro-Latina, what does it mean to support organizations like the LAA?
Danica: I am in a unique situation to be able to have an affinity to both (Black and Latino heritage). To show that representation and show individuals that we can be successful, we can navigate, that we can build a sense of community and bond through multiple organizations is everything.
When you are an Afro-Latina, you tend to have an identity crisis because you associate with one more than the other. But having the ability to integrate both and be a part of both rich cultures is extremely beneficial. It shows that it’s possible to be both.
Do you have an example of something you’ve seen at the LAA that reminded you of why you support us?
One of Danica’s favorite memories with the LAA was when the Latin Fever Host Committee got together at the LAA to plan out the fundraising efforts for the ball. This gathering was possible thanks to all the help from the Avanzando Juntas program small businesses. “Seeing this first hand was such a rich experience!” and it reminded her of why she loves the LAA and why she supports its mission.