Dillon was born in Mt. Vernon, Washington, and is an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Tribe. He and his mom moved from the Northwest to San Francisco when he was 11, and he later relocated to Redlands, California, to attend the University of Redlands.
He graduated in 2013 from the University of Redlands with a self-designed BA in "Community Organizing and Indigenous Realities." He then worked in Indian Country for a number of years before deciding that law school should be his next step.
Shortly after graduating with his BA, he became the director of a small Indian affordable housing development non-profit in Northern California at the United Native Housing Development Corporation (UNHDC). While working at UNHDC, Dillon helped lead a successful advocacy effort in Sacramento through which California tribes gained access to millions of dollars of state affordable housing development funding.
He continued his advocacy work in his next position as the housing director for the Cahto Tribe, realizing that "the law was what was used both to stifle and support positive growth and development in Indian communities."
University of Arizona Law was initially put on Dillon's radar by his mentor at the University of Redlands, Dr. Lawrence Gross, who identified it as one of the top Indian Law programs in the country. Intending to continue living and working in California, however, he didn't apply until after he unexpectedly received a fee-waiver from the UA.
"Shortly after applying and being accepted, I was called by Professor Rob Williams who helped me understand that UA was absolutely my best option because of the Indigenous People's Law and Policy Program."
So far, Dillon is enjoying the challenging but supportive environment in which to learn the law that Arizona Law fosters and has been impressed with the healthy balance between competitiveness and compassion.
"There's a healthy environment here, which encourages everyone to push themselves to do their best while also understanding that our value and future is based on more than just our GPA."
With his family -- his wife Tania and their son Leonardo -- Dillon has also come to appreciate the Sonoran Desert and everything that Tucson offers for families and small children, such as great restaurants, museums, and festivals.
Dillon's main area of interest is Indian Law. He also appreciates the extensive extra-curricular programming put on by IPLP.
"After graduating I will work toward strengthening tribal sovereignty and addressing the systemic barriers which prevent my people from growing and developing positively. For many centuries, tribal communities have been taken advantage of and purposefully excluded which, as a result, has created profound community health problems in terms of diabetes, heart disease, suicide, domestic violence, and addiction. My hope is to continue addressing the issues impacting my community and I am open to whatever opportunities might present themselves so long as I can work to support Native people."
Dillon and his family will move to San Francisco for the upcoming summer so that he can work at Maier Pfeffer Kim Geary & Cohen, an Indian Law firm in Oakland. During the 9-week clerkship, he will work with a number of tribal clients on housing and gaming projects. He also looks forward to the possibility of travelling to the Northwest over the summer so that he can show his son their people's land and river.