Agriculture is consistently ranked as one of the three most dangerous occupations in the United States.
Board & Staff
Advocacy and Organizing Director | Email
As a Palestinian-American, Nadeen Bir has always been passionate about social justice issues. She was first exposed to farmworker issues as an undergraduate at the College of Charleston, SC. Nadeen has worked to improve living and working conditions for farmworkers with SAF through various outlets- she was an intern in 2002, a board member in 2003, then as the internship coordinator in 2003 and 2004. For almost 5 years, Nadeen worked with El Centro Hispano in Durham, NC as the Director of Youth Programs to improve the lives of Latinos in Durham through education, organizing, and services. In 2009, Nadeen returned to the SAF team as Advocacy and Organizing Director with the goal of involving more students and community members in the struggle for farmworker justice.
Assistant Director | Email
Laxmi Haynes has worked with SAF since participating as an Into the Fields intern in 2001. For over 8 years she co-coordinated SAF's Into the Fields Internship & Sowing Seeds for Change fellowship programs. As Assistant Director she helps manage the organizations finances and policies, coordinates the Solidaridad internship and co-directs the SAF Theater Group. She is from Durham, has a BA in Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has served on the boards of Toxic Free NC and the NC Farmworker Health Program.
Program Coordinator | Email
Jazmin Posas was born and raised in a family of northern California farmworkers who migrated from Michoacán, Mexico. Growing up and while working a few seasons in packing sheds she was exposed to the hardships that undocumented friends faced and to the stories of injustice at the workplace, gaining a passion for social justice and farmworker rights. While attending California State University of Sacramento she participated in the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and was an Into the Fields Program intern, serving at Legal Aid of North Carolina. After being motivated by the internship experience with SAF she returned and worked as an outreach assistant with CAMP program in Sacramento and then as a Program Associate for the AmeriCorps State Department in CaliforniaVolunteers. In 2014 Jazmin joined SAF as the Into the Fields Program Coordinator.
Yazmin Garcia Rico
Youth Director | Email
Yazmin Garcia Rico was born and raised in Veracruz, Mexico. She immigrated to Burlington, NC in 2002 to join her mother who had come to the U.S. two years before. Yazmin set her sights on a college education early on and worked hard during high school in hopes for a fair chance. She was determined to go to college despite her undocumented status and graduated from Guilford College in May 2011. Yazmin wanted to be more than just a student and became an active campus leader; she coordinated an after school tutorial program for middle school Latino students, organized Soy un Lider Conference at Guilford College, and served as the president of Hispanos Unidos de Guilford (HUG), through which she organized several events to bring awareness about farmworker issues and celebrate the accomplishments of Cesar Chavez. Yazmin participated in SAF’s Into the Fields internship program as a rising sophomore in 2008, working at Prospect Hill Community Health Center, where she learned about health issues and working conditions farmworkers are exposed to by working in the fields. After applying to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Yazmin was approved and joined SAF at the end of 2012. She coordinates the Levante Leadership Institute and National Farmworker Awareness Week as SAF's Youth Director.
Financial Manager | Email
Cris Rivera is excited to finally join the SAF staff after years of volunteer and board service. As a former auditor and nonprofit consultant, overseeing the general accounting and finances of a stable social justice organization is a dream come true. Born in Manila, Cris was raised in Southern Maryland and came to NC twenty plus years ago to attend Duke. When not producing financial statements, Cris passes the time making quirky online videos, playing the mandolin, participating in wonky policy discussions, and serving as ad hoc parish chef for First Presbyterian Church of Durham.
Communications & Outreach Director | Email
Joanna Welborn was born and raised in the foothills of Western North Carolina. While studying Sociology and Spanish at Appalachian State University, she participated in the Into the Fields Internship in 1996. She studied documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine and at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies and continues to do documentary and fine art photography. Joanna served as SAF's Assistant Director for 5 years before moving into the position of Communications & Outreach Director, where she coordinates SAF's alumni program, public outreach and presentations, communications, and documentary work.
Executive Director | Email
Melinda Wiggins has served as the Executive Director of Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) since 1996. Before that time, she coordinated SAF's Into the Fields summer internship program for several years. She got involved with the farmworker movement as a SAF intern with the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry during the summer of 1993. Melinda is active with many immigrant and farmworker rights coalitions, including the Adelante Education Coalition, Farmworker Advocacy Network, and Farmworker Ministry Committee, as well as several social justice groups such as Zomppa and the Wincall Residency Program. Melinda is the granddaughter of sharecroppers who grew up in a rural farming community in the Mississippi Delta. She moved to North Carolina in 1992 to pursue a Masters of Theological Studies at Duke University.
Program Director | Email
Ramon Zepeda joined SAF as the Youth Organizer at the end 2011. Ramon was born in a small farming town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. At the age of 10 he moved to Los Angeles, CA to join his family and lived there until migrating to North Carolina in 2002. Ramon participated in SAF’s Levante youth program when he was a senior at Hoke County High School and helped to start an AIM Club for migrant students. In 2005, while studying Sociology at UNC-Pembroke, he participated in SAF’s Into the Fields Internship Program, working at the Western North Carolina Workers’ Center, where he was exposed to the struggles that workers face when they try to organize for better working conditions, dignity, and respect on the job. After graduating college in 2008, Ramon joined the labor movement as a union organizer and worked on campaigns such as the Justice at Smithfield Campaign, in solidarity with workers in a North Carolina pork processing plant, and a Wage Theft Campaign, in solidarity with day laborers in Washington DC. In addition, Ramon has served on SAF’s board of directors and has participated in alumni focus groups.
SAF Board of Directors
Guadalupe Arce-Jimenez– NCSU student
Nereida Arguijo– AM Fiestas
Coby Jansen Austin– Orange County Health Department
Angela Cheung– Campbell University student
Angeline Echeverria– El Pueblo Inc.
Lucero Galvan– Quintiles
Ronald Garcia-Fogarty – Witness for Peace
Nayely Pérez-Huerta – Southeast Immigrant Rights Network
Andrea Robinson Kells – McGuire Woods, LLP
Jose Morales– Staybridge Suites
Leanne Simon– Center for Documentary Studies and Zomppa
Patrick Stawski– Duke Library
Irving Zavaleta– Self Help Credit Union