Ryan's (he/him) time at AFIRE started as a volunteer and then board member. Prior to joining the staff, he served as a staff member for the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and as the co-chair for the UIC Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Asian Americans. In 2015, Ryan served as the National Conference Coordinator for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, in addition to his duties at UIC.
Previously, Ryan served as a facilitator for the teen writing program Young Asians with Power!, point person for i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, logistics coordinator for Kultura, and executive committee member for the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. In his spare time, Ryan is a writer, storyteller, improviser, and actor.
Evangeline (she/her), also known in the community as Tita Vangie, is a single mother of four due to her husband’s early demise. She is proud to have been able to not only provide her children with the care they needed, but a college education as well.
In the Philippines, Evangeline was a high school teacher and guidance counselor at a catholic school, involved with the campus choir during the Holy mass sponsored by the school, an active Girl Scout Leader, and a chaperon for students at camp events. Here in Chicago, Evangeline was lucky to find friends who are involved in the church.
At present, she is an active member of Mather’s Café Senior’s Choir, performing in different homes for seniors, singing songs of the 40’s, 50’s and so on. After 40 years of widowhood, Evangeline found Bill, her husband, who shares her love for music.
NAI Citizenship Program Manager
Noel (they/he) began their relationship with AFIRE in the summer of 2018 before joining the staff full-time in summer 2023 as AFIRE's NAI (New Americans Initiative) Program Manager. Prior to joining staff, Noel became a Core Leader in 2019, where they subsequently worked with AFIRE to produce & facilitate The Alon Project from 2019-2021.
For about a decade, Noel worked professionally in the arts & entertainment industry. They produced commercial industrials for 5 years in the early 2010s and most recently worked as talent agent for Chicago & Regional Theatre for nearly 5 years.
In their spare time, they're sometimes an over-achieving home cook, often cooking food for community members to taste-test their latest recipe find. They are otherwise a huge fan of pop, dance, instrumental, and classical music, often trying to dance with their two fur babies, Judy (the Shih Tzu) and Potato (the Yorkie).
Marilou Mariko Carrera
Marilou Mariko Carrera (they/siya*/she) is a queer Filipinx-Japanese cultural worker and emerging artist with foundations in healthcare, organizing, and advocacy. They root largely in the creative practices of writing and movement as pathways and practices for personal and collective power, sharing stories, and healing. Marilou Mariko joined AFIRE in 2023 part-time after a short stint as a member/volunteer. They bring their experiences in community engagement, grantmaking, advocacy, & organizing and a desire for intergenerational community spaces.
Their current preoccupations include writing queer stories, Kali martial arts, Butoh, body sovereignty, anti-imperialism, and reading.
*Siya does not translate to English use the way “they” and “she” do, but please know it is a gender-neutral pronoun from the Philippines.
Danielle "L" De Vera (they/them) began their relationship with AFIRE in 2018, quickly becoming a Core Leader in that same year before joining the staff in 2019 as a full-time organizer.
Their work with AFIRE has thus far encompassed the creation & facilitation of a multitude of Healing Justice initiatives – The Alon Project, the annual AFIRE Chicago Bayanihan Show, and most recently, Pan de Mic, a storytelling space where community members converse on topics such as mental health, grief, and current social issues that affect the Chicagoland Filipinx/a/o community and beyond.
Outside of AFIRE, "L" DJs under the stage name DJ Knowhiya. They love spending time outdoors and stoking fires.
Kaya (they/them) is a Filipinx artist, creative, storyteller, and first-gen immigrant. Their ancestral home can be traced back to the Bicolandia region of the Philippines, where the majestic Mayon volcano resides. Their approach to organizing is rooted in community care, compassion, and a commitment to honor the organizing efforts and achievements of our Elders.
In community, they have design-collaborated with Grow-Op Chicago, a community garden advocacy group and seed-starting initiative; organized with Non-Monog Baddies, a queer and POC-centered non-monogamous/polyamorous discussion and support group; and are a founding member of House of Huitlacooch, a QTPOC-centered kink and BDSM arts and organizing collective. Additionally, they are an active farmer volunteer with Cedillo's Fresh Produce, a family-run urban farm based in the Englewood, and OTIS (Only Things In Season) Fresh Farm, a cooperatively-owned farm located in Back of the Yards. In their spare time, Kaya enjoys belting to 80s/90s power ballads, hoarding (dead) plants, catching up on books, looking for the moon every night, and sleeping in.