According to a 2005 survey, 53% of farmworkers are undocumented (without legal authorization), 25% are United States citizens, and 21% are legal permanent residents.
Board & Staff
Operations Manager | Email
Patty Adams is delighted to join the talented and committed group of people on the SAF staff and looks forward to offering some of her gifts into the mix, including the skills in organizing, facilitating, interpreting/translating, and organizational development and capacity-building that she has gained in more than 10 years of organizing, social movement, and non-profit work. Outside of SAF, Patty spends her time offering donation-based yoga and bodywork to the Durham community and experimenting in healthy and tasty vegan cuisine.
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.
Raúl Granados Gámez
Migrant Youth Director | Email
Raúl Granados Gámez was born and raised in Unión de San Antonio, Jalisco México and moved to California in 1997 to learn English and better his education. He comes from a farmworking family and is the first one of his family to graduate from a university. He attended California State University Long Beach where he obtained degrees in Theatre Arts and Translation and Interpretation Studies. In 2003 Raúl was an Into the Fields intern and part of the Levante Theatre Group, and in 2008 was the first Into the Fields Program Assistant and co-director of the theatre group. As the Migrant Youth Director he is developing a theatre piece focused on the issues of education affecting many students across the country.
Program Director | Email
Laxmi Haynes co-coordinates SAF's Into the Fields Internship & Sowing Seeds for Change fellowship programs, and co-directs the SAF Theater Group. In 2001, after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, she participated in the Into the Fields program as a legal outreach intern in South Carolina. She currently serves on the board of Toxic Free NC and is a member of the NC Farmworker Health Program Advisory Board.
Yazmin Garcia Rico
National Organizer | 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 as the new National Organizer at the end of 2012.
Assistant 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 has studied documentary photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine and at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies. As the Assistant Director, Joanna works on SAF publications and the documentary program.
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
Nereida Arguijo– AM Fiestas
Victor Canales– Legal Aid of NC, Farmworker Unit
Angeline Echeverria– El Pueblo Inc.
Ronald Garcia-Fogarty – Democracy NC
Mercedes Hernandez-Pelletier – NC Division of Public Health
Nayely Pérez-Huerta – Southeast Immigrant Rights Network
Courtney Reid-Eaton – Center for Documentary Studies
Andrea Robinson Kells – McGuire Woods, LLP
Jose Morales– Strand Development
Leanne Simon– Center for Documentary Studies and Zomppa
Patrick Stawski– Duke Library
Irving Zavaleta– Self Help Credit Union