Board & Staff

SAF Staff

Victor Canales Gamiño
Youth Organizing Director | Email
Pronouns: he, him, his

Victor was born in Guanajuato, Mexico.  At the age of eight, he migrated to Mountain Home, Idaho to join his family. He grew up working in agriculture to augment the family income. In 2013 he was accepted into SAF’s Into the Fields summer internship and was placed with Legal Aid of North Carolina's Farmworker Unit in Raleigh, NC where he served as an outreach intern. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 2013 and immediately returned to work as a Paralegal with Legal Aid of NC and served on SAF’s Board of Directors. In the summer of 2014 Victor returned to the University of Idaho where he worked as the College Assistance Migrant Program Recruitment Specialist for five years. He has remained committed to SAF’s mission and has supported SAF with recruitment, interviews and coordinating actions for National Farmworker Awareness Week. Victor is very excited to continue his journey to empower farmworker youth by coordinating SAF's Levante Leadership Institute.  

Maria Lopez Gonzalez
Program Coordinator | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Maria Lopez Gonzalez grew up in the small town of White Oak, NC, surrounded by hog farms and fields of blueberries, corn, wheat, and cotton. While in high school and her freshman year of college she developed a passion for social justice. In the summer of 2017 she participated in SAF's Into the Fields program as the legislative intern for New Frame, LLC where her interest in politics and her love for advocacy grew. The following fall she began SAF's Solidaridad internship where she got to work with the Levante Leadership Institute. Maria holds many titles, including college student, immigrant, and proud Mexican woman, and is excited to add SAF Program Coordinator to the list.

Romina Muni
Operations Manager | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Romina is native Argentinean who moved to North Carolina in 2015. Back home, she studied Visual Arts at the National University of the Arts, and Labor Relations at the University of Buenos Aires. She has always had a passion for workers’ rights and labor movements, and is excited to complement her experience in this field with a greater understanding of the U.S. farmworker movement. In addition to her operations work with SAF, Romina also collaborates as a translator for a number of non-profits across the South, sells her artwork at local markets, and is studying programming with Code the Dream, where she is involved in building apps focused on giving back to the community.

Victoria Nwankudu
Grassroots Organizer | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

As a child, Victoria passed corn, tobacco, and wheat fields riding from her hometown of Florence, SC to her mother's jobs in Hartsville, Timmonsville, and Johnsonville. Still, she was a newcomer to the farmworker movement as a SAF Into the Fields intern in 2018. Victoria returns to SAF as a Grassroots Organizer. After multiple international experiences, she is now dedicated to unveiling the injustices occurring in her own corner of the world.


Sandra Rodriguez
Assistant Director | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Sandra was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, where she started her nonprofit work.  She first came to U.S. to study environmental science and moved to North Carolina in 1998. Since then she has been involved in issues relating to environmental protection, access to education for Latino students, and immigration issues. Sandra worked for Triangle Community Foundation for 10 years, connecting organizations with opportunities and resources to achieve social change. She has known SAF since she first moved to North Carolina and is excited to bring her experience to the farmworker movement. As Assistant Director, she helps manage the organization’s finances and policies, works on fundraising, and coordinates the Solidaridad internship.

Joanna Welborn
Communications Arts Director | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

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 Arts Director, where she coordinates SAF's alumni program, communications, and documentary work.

Melinda Wiggins
Executive Director | Email
Pronouns: she, her, hers

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.

Ramon Zepeda
Program Director | Email
Pronouns: he, him, his

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

Daisy Almonte – Graduate Student, Harvard University
Yessie Bustos – Graduate Student Services Coordinator, Our Lady of the Lake University
Marian Fragola – Director, Program Planning and Outreach, NC State University Libraries
Norma Garcia Ortiz – Clinical Specialist Research Sr., PPD Inc.
Eduardo Hernandez – Graduate Student, UNC-Chapel Hill, Gillings School of Global Public Health
Jennifer Jackson – Executive Director, Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women
Tony Macias – Freelance Interpreter/Translator/Language Justice Consultant
Xaris Martinez – Assistant to the Director, Center for Documentary Studies
Jaslina Paintal – BSPH Nutrition, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Christopher Paul – Assistant Professor and MPA Program Director, North Carolina Central University
Maria Perry – Managing Attorney at Perry Legal Services, PLLC
Jessica Rodriguez – Outreach Coordinator, Vecinos Farmworker Health Program
Yeimi Tomas – Research Assistant, Collaborative Studies Coordinating Center, UNC-CH