Edna became RAFI-USA’s Executive Director in 2017, after serving as Development Director and Director of Operations, beginning in 2011. During her time at RAFI-USA, Edna has strategically grown the organization’s capacity by streamlining financial management, increasing and diversifying contributed income, and organizing workflow to enable staff members to effectively function within their own programs as well as in cross-programmatic core teams. Additionally, she is a fervent advocate for equity and justice and was instrumental in launching the Farmers of Color Network. Edna serves on the Boards of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC). Originally from the Dominican Republic, Edna was raised in a global environment, growing up between The Hague, Netherlands, and Santo Domingo. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Edna served as Senior Program Officer at the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and Director of Educational and Career Services at the Latin American Association in Atlanta, GA. Edna holds a B.A. in Economics with a concentration in Latin American Studies from Haverford College.
919.542.1396 ext. 200
Matthew joined RAFI-USA as an administrative assistant in 2021. Previously, he worked as a project facilitator in farm-management software development. Matthew has also worked on several organic farms in the Piedmont area, including a U-Pick blueberry and grape farm in Durham, and as a research technician in plant breeding and genetics programs for crops such as sweet potatoes and Christmas trees. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from NC State University with a minor in Agroecology. In his free time, Matt enjoys gardening, knitting and crocheting, photography, and writing music. He also loves long walks but frequently gets left behind because he is easily distracted by cool bugs.
Senior Development Manager
Susan worked for more than 15 years in administrative, fundraising, and programmatic capacities for the National Farm Worker Ministry. She is committed to self-determination for farmworkers and all those whose labor puts food on our tables every day. She relocated to Raleigh, NC from St. Louis, MO in 2013 and remains a mid-westerner by temperament. Her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale seems barely relevant these many years on.
Come to the Table
David works as a Program Coordinator in the Come to the Table Program. David was born and raised in Shelby, North Carolina and holds a Bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, David worked in a variety of fields including journalism, education, and parish ministry. For fun, David loves cheering on his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels, listening to live music, and hanging out with his wife and two cats.
Carolina Alzate Gouzy
Farmer Outreach Coordinator
Carolina joined RAFI USA in August 2022. She has worked in agroecological projects and network articulation for territorial strengthening as a part of non-governmental organizations that seek a more just and regenerative relationship between the rural and urban worlds. She is a biological engineer, with a Master’s in Agribusiness and Ph.D. in Sustainable Development from Universidade de Brasília, Brazil. She was recently CEO of Low Carbon City, an organization that creates collective solutions to address Climate Change. Her experience is based in Latin American countries where she has lived most of her life and from where she developed her love to dance all kinds of rhythms.
Lead Farmer Advocate
Farm Advocacy Program
Benny is a national leader in advocating for farm families and saving farms that would otherwise be lost to foreclosure. For more than 20 years, family farmers in crisis have turned to Benny for help. He provides farmers with a broad array of advocacy services, including financial counseling, legal referrals, and technical assistance. Benny counsels between 75 and 100 farmers each year and devotes 60 hours to each client, on average. In more than 90% of the cases he works on, Benny helps farmers realize their goals and achieve greater stability. In 2008, Benny was awarded the prestigious Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Personal Service. Click here to view a video about Benny.
Farmers of Color Network
Alisha grew up in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, which is where her love of the outdoors began and the seeds for serving rural communities took root. After completing her coursework at Pennsylvania State University and NC State University in Business Administration and Rural Sociology, Alisha began her career in community development and affordable housing. She has held positions at the Durham Housing Authority (NC), City of Rochester (NY), and Summit County Government (CO). In her free time, Alisha is an avid reader of historical fiction, magical realism, and race relations research. She also enjoys spending time outdoors with her 15-year old dog, Mamacita.
Kelli manages RAFI-USA’s on-farm research, which currently includes primarily corn, soybeans, and pollinator habitat. She also coordinates the research and pilot development of a farmer-led seed improvement collaboration. Kelli serves as RAFI-USA’s representative on the Southern Cover Crops Council and Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund Advisory Committee. Kelli was raised on an organic farm in northeastern North Carolina and now resides in Harnett County with her husband Tommie and two children, Brett and Elyssa. Prior to her work at RAFI-USA, she worked in the crop consulting field, where she gained knowledge of conventionally grown commodity crops. She has managed a contract swine farm, which allowed her to become familiar with the caveats of contract agriculture. Previously at RAFI-USA, Kelli worked as a field technician on the peanut project with Scott Marlow. Kelli holds a degree from North Carolina State University in Agriculture Business Management with a minor in Animal Science.
Farmers of Color Network
Sabine works as a Grants Coordinator for the Farmers of Color Network. She was born in Portland, Oregon, and lived for eight years in Brooklyn, New York before moving recently to New Orleans, Louisiana. She has a degree in Political Science, Spanish, and Latin American Studies from Seattle University and has worked as a tenant organizer, preschool teacher, and in non-profit operations. She spent five years in New York doing grassroots grantmaking supporting neighborhood community organizing projects and is incredibly excited to bring that experience and passion to the Farmers of Color Network. She is a biker, cook, oral historian, amateur welder and printmaker, and aunt.
Beth Hauptle has been in nonprofit marketing and communications for more than 35 years, primarily in Washington, DC, and Baltimore. She helped launch the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) program and was with the organization for five years prior to its reorganization into A Greener World. At AWA Beth enjoyed getting to know farmers and educating consumers about the benefits of pasture-based farming. Beth has a B.A. from Seton Hill University and an M.A. in Arts Management from American University. Beth lives in Durham with her Corgi/Jack Russell Gracie and loves to go to the South Durham Farmers Market on Saturday mornings to gather goods for her canning adventures.
Climate and Equity Policy Manager
Humon is constantly learning about his place in the food system and how he can contribute his knowledge to make it equitable. His interest in making and sharing good food, knowing its origin and ingredients is rooted in his Iranian heritage — and childhood allergies. While working as a farmhand at ECO City Farms during the day and volunteering for Prince George’s Food Equity Council at night, his interest became a passion to work at the intersection of agriculture and food justice. His experience includes working for the Vermont Farm Bureau, selling pickles in the DMV, and writing articles published in Food & Power. He has a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Vermont. He was born and raised in Maryland. In his spare time, he works in his small garden and spends time with friends and family.
B. Ray Jeffers
Farm and Outreach Specialist
Ray was born and raised in Person County, NC, where he also operates the family’s century farm purchased by his great grandfather in 1919. Previously Ray served for 12 years as an elected Person County Commissioner (2008-2020), was President of N.C. Association of County Commissioners in 2014, and was an executive board member of the National Association of Counties. Ray continues to serve on several local and state boards promoting agriculture and rural communities. Ray attended Piedmont Community College and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.
Challenging Corporate Power
Aaron is the Program Manager for the Challenging Corporate Power Program at RAFI-USA, working to end trends of concentration and extraction in the meat industry and build resilient community-rooted animal agriculture economies. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, he worked as a program designer and evaluator for several youth asset-building nonprofits in Durham, NC. Originally from Illinois, Aaron grew up spending his summers on his grandfather’s hog and dairy farm, and later working as a farmhand on his uncle’s hog farm. These formative experiences shaped Aaron’s passion for fighting for more ecologically just food systems. He enjoys elaborate cooking projects, photography, and having fun with his partner and daughter.
Come to the Table Intern
Maggie is an intern for Come to the Table for the summer of 2022. She is a Duke Divinity Student seeking a Masters of Divinity with a concentration in Food, Faith, and Environmental Justice. She is from High Point, NC, and received a B.A. in Religion and English from Mercer University in Macon, GA. In her free time, Maggie enjoys reading, keeping up with science fiction TV shows, and exploring the great outdoors.
919.542.1396 ext. 207
Margaret is RAFI-USA’s Policy Director, working to ensure that the experiences and needs of farmers and community stakeholders are heard by policy-makers. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, she worked as a farmhand and manager on various farms in the Triangle and ran the SNAP/EBT program at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Margaret is an impulse-buyer of flowering plants, Aikido nerd, mama to one of the world’s exceptional dogs, and a nap enthusiast.
Agricultural Conservation and Market Access Coordinator
Jaimie McGirt has spent her entire living and working life in North Carolina. Her upbringing around the salt marshes and barrier islands of NC fostered an early sense of ecological stewardship but after studying Community, Regional, Global Development at Appalachian State University, she shifted her attention to local food systems and rural community organizing in Western NC. Along the way, Jaimie has instructed backpacking and kayaking, served two volunteer terms of AmeriCorps, and steered a community-wide “listening project” through the hills and hollers of the NC High Country. Prior to joining RAFI in 2022, Jaimie relocated to the NC Triangle with her family in order to work across NC, supporting rural faith and food-related partnerships that bolster small farms and local economies. Having set new roots in Southern Alamance Co, Jaimie loves spending evenings in the garden with her husband and two young boys, and relishes the rare time she gets alone with a cup of coffee.
Director of Farmer Outreach and Technical Assistance
In addition to serving as the Chair of RAFI-USA’s Direct Service team, Lisa works across RAFI-USA’s programs to ensure farmers receive quality information and technical assistance that supports access to marketing opportunities and federal programs that strengthen overall farm viability. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Lisa served as the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI. Lisa has also worked on small farms in the Midwest and internationally. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College. Outside of RAFI-USA, Lisa spends her time singing, trying out new recipes, and reading.
Director of Operations
Michelle serves as RAFI-USA’s Director of Operations. Michelle began at RAFI-USA in 2017 with the Come to the Table program before moving to her current role in 2022. She earned a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School and a Master of Social Work from the UNC-CH School of Social Work. In her free time, Michelle spends time with her partner and their three dogs, and attempts DIY home improvement projects.
Intern – Challenging Corporate Power, Farmer Outreach
Joe is a current NCSU student studying Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Joe worked as a photojournalist for various publications in Greenville and Asheville, NC as well as serving briefly as the official photographer of the NC State Fair. Joe was driven to join RAFI-USA through a passion for economic, social, and ecological issues in our food system. Joe lives with his wife and two cats and enjoys making music and film, as well as reading philosophy and obsessively tending his garden.
Come to the Table Program Director
Justine serves alongside the Come to the Table team as the Program Director. Prior to her time at RAFI-USA, Justine has worked at the intersection of social justice, food ministries, and local agriculture for over five years. She seeks to serve faith communities and non-profits throughout rural North Carolina by providing resources, tools, and peer connections to increase their capacity. Justine holds a Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School. She lives in southern Alamance County with her husband Andrew, their daughters Dorothy and Edith, and their dog Bowie. When she’s not working, she’s usually making pies or spending time with her family outside.
Farm and Faith Partnerships Project Manager
Come to the Table
Jarred serves as the Farm and Faith Partnerships Project Manager, part of the Come to the Table Program. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Jarred worked as a staff pastor at a congregation in Raleigh, helping to organize and lead several racial justice-based initiatives and programs. He holds a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School and as a World Vision Fellow, coordinated awareness campaigns, focusing on migrant farmworker issues. Jarred enjoys playing and watching basketball, cooking Italian food, and spending time with his dog.
Tracey Ellis Wiggins
Tracey serves as RAFI-USA’s bookkeeper, supporting the team by maintaining and processing finances. She is an experienced nonprofit manager, fundraiser, and bookkeeper, and for the past 15 years has been dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve. During her career, Tracey helped to improve and provide health care benefits to employees of East Tennessee companies and supported the libraries of Knox County, Tennessee. She holds a B.S. in Mass Communications from Barton College, with concentrations in Broadcast Video, Journalism, and Public Relations. She also received a paralegal certificate from the UT Knoxville Professional Development Program. When not at work, Tracey enjoys time with family and friends, mostly outdoors!
Expanding Farmers Market Access
Angel works as the Nutrition Incentives Program Coordinator assisting farmers markets to expand food access programs striving to make local foods more accessible. Originally from Kentucky, Angel moved to North Carolina in 2015 to complete her Master of Divinity with a concentration in Food & Ecology at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. Since graduating, Angel has worked on various small-scale vegetable farms. For fun, Angel enjoys running, reading fiction, gardening, and spending time outside with her dog.
Otis Wright, Jr.
Farmer Resources Coordinator
Otis, a native of Tallulah, LA, serves as the CEO of AG-ECO, a consultant company that assists non-profit organizations and businesses whose mission is to give farmers technical assistance. Otis recently served as a tech specialist for The Hinds County Soil and Water Conservation which is an affiliate of USDA/NRCS. In this position, he assists farmers with conservation plans and other assistance through NRCS. Before moving to Jackson, MS, Otis’s career started shortly after earning a B.S. in Ag-Economics from Alcorn State University in May 2006. Following graduation, he returned home to manage his local farmers market for two years through Americorp. In October 2008 he was hired by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives as an Agri-Business Specialist for the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives where he held that position for five years. During this term Otis worked extensively in Mississippi and Louisiana providing technical assistance to individual farmers and cooperatives.
Otis is the former Farm Manager for the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation under the Arts & Culture Program. He also served as Director of Tougaloo College Farm Aid which is a USDA 2501 outreach and advocacy program for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. As director, he managed the direction of the program, and its outreach and advocacy services in seven counties in the Mississippi Delta.