Scott Marlow, Executive Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x210

Scott currently serves as RAFI’s Executive Director. He previously directed the organization’s Farm Sustainability Program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers seeking to increase the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets. His specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management for value-added producers. Scott has served on the steering committee of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, the Organization Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Board of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Board of the North Carolina Farm Transition Network, and currently serves on the NC Agricultural Advancement Consortium and the Advisory Committee of the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. Scott holds a Master’s degree in Crop Science from NC State University and a BA in Political Science from Duke University. Twitter: @ScottRAFI


Farm Sustainability Program

Benny Bunting, RAFI Lead Farm Advocate

Benny Bunting, Lead Farm Advocate

Email: [email protected]
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 per 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 Bunting and to read his full bio.

Joseph Schroeder, Director, Farm Sustainability Program

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (336) 269-5733
Joe Schroeder serves as the Director of the Farm Sustainability Program. He has been with RAFI-USA for five years as a Field Coordinator and then as Director of the Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund (TCRF). Previously, Joe spent a year with SEIU Local 880 as a union organizer in Chicago before moving back to his native Ohio River Valley to organize farmers and food entrepreneurs with Community Farm Alliance. Joe graduated from Earlham College with a BA in Economics in 2004. Twitter: @joeschroeder


James Robinson, Research and Policy Associate

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x209

James manages research projects that focus on conducting risk analyses of sustainable farming practices. James also manages RAFI’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and landowner rights project, which focuses on issues of fairness in mineral rights leasing. Prior to working at RAFI, James was a Graduate Intern for the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture, a Research Assistant for the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly and a Research Assistant for the Center for Teaching Quality. James holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from LaGrange College and a Master of Science degree in Political Science from Florida State University.

Viola GlennIMG_7591-001, Research Coordinator

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x201
Cell: (919) 704-6920

Viola leads our crop insurance policy research. Prior to joining RAFI, she spent nearly a decade as a natural resource and agricultural economist with a background in research, survey design and implementation, outreach and communication, and rural development. She has held research positions at North Carolina State University, various US and international consulting firms and nonprofits, and worked for NC Cooperative Extension. It was her interest in each of these topics and her dedication to practical applied research and the South that led to an interest in sustainable agriculture and her work at RAFI. Viola holds a BA in Economics from Stetson University and an MS in Natural Resources with a concentration in Economics from NCSU. Her research has been published in Agroforestry Systems and presented at the World Agroforestry Congress in 2014. She has served as a Borlaug Global Food Security Fellow and received NCSU’s Arthur W. Cooper Graduate Fellowship for Excellence in Social Science Research.

Jean Willoughby, Project Director, Agricultural Reinvestment Fund

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 621-8453

Jean Willoughby serves as Project Director for the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund, our cost-share grant program for innovative and entrepreneurial farmers. She also currently serves as Co-Project Director of a project funded by the Southern Risk Management Education Center, through which she created a new online resource for farmers, the Resourceful Farmer ( Jean works closely with the Farm Sustainability Program staff on projects related to farmer training programs, farm finance and risk management education, and rural cooperative development. Prior to joining RAFI in 2012, she worked for a national environmental nonprofit. She holds a BA in Sociology from Wesleyan University.

Kavita Koppa, Farm Community Organizer

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 621-0534

Kavita manages RAFI’s Farmer Leadership Network, an initiative that helps farmers effectively serve on committees for agricultural decision-making groups. She also assists the Farm Sustainability Program staff with rural cooperative development in North and South Carolina. In 2014, she oversaw RAFI’s initiatives related to North Carolina’s farmer-veterans and conducted research to better address their specific barriers to success. Prior to joining RAFI in 2013, she managed a beginning farmer program in South Carolina. Kavita is a proud native of South Carolina and is passionate about working with historically underserved farmers in the region. She holds a BA in Geography and Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Annie Segal, Research Assistant VISTA

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396
Annie is RAFI’s research assistant VISTA. She will be researching farming practices and developing systems to catalog existing research and track the impacts of programs at RAFI. She previously worked as a teaching assistant in France and has also worked with non-profits and volunteered with farms and community gardens. Annie attended UNC-Chapel Hill and graduated in 2013 with a BA in French and a Sustainability minor.

staff pic-1

Ben Paynter, Farmer Counselor Network VISTA

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 412-7435
Ben Paynter serves as RAFI’s Farmer Counselor Network VISTA for 2014-2015. He works with the Farm Sustainability team in developing RAFI’s tools and resources for farmers. His interests include cartography, open source GIS, and spatial analysis. Ben worked on several small-scale sustainable farms as a farmhand in the Appalachian mountains. He also took part in a residency program at his university’s student farm for three years. Ben holds a B.S. in Sustainable Development with a concentration in Agroecology from Appalachian State in Boone, NC. He minored in Geography.

Just Foods Program

Michael Sligh, Program Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 929-7099

A founding member of RAFI, Michael manages policy, research and education regarding agricultural best practices, agricultural biodiversity, biotechnology, organic identity preservation and a range of food justice and other value-added food labeling, and marketing issues. He has more than 30 year of experience in agricultural practices and policy analysis, including both domestic and international work. Michael holds the following titles: Founding Chair of the National Organic Standards Board (a federal advisory committee to the USDA); Founder of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG); Founder of National Organic Coalition, Founding partner of Agricultural Justice Project, Founding member of Domestic Fair Trade Association. He is also a part-time family farmer and a trained anthropologist. Michael lives, farms and works in North Carolina.

Kelli Dale, Project Coordinator, Breeding for Organic Production Systems (BOPS)

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x211

Kelli Dale currently provides farmers with technical assistance designing and planting their field trials. The field trial design utilizes their equipment making planting, field upkeep, and harvest easier for the farmers while still implementing the replicated and randomized layout that is required for authentic research. Kelli was raised on an organic farm in northeastern North Carolina. Prior to her work at RAFI, 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. She has previous experience at RAFI where she 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.

Come to the Table Program

Francesca Hyatt, Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x214
Cell: (919) 323-7587
Francesca serves as the Director for Come to the Table, a program that engages the faith community in identifying and supporting initiatives that relieve hunger and sustain local agriculture. Prior to coming to RAFI, Francesca worked on both organic and conventional vegetable farms, served as marketer for the New River Organic Growers Cooperative, conducted education and outreach for SEEDS community garden in Durham and worked with ETC Group, advocating for farmers and indigenous people’s rights. Francesca received her BA from Appalachian State University in a self designed major titled “Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems.” She grew up in Germany and Hungary and now proudly calls North Carolina home.

Athan Lindsay, Faith Community Outreach Coordinator

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x205
As Faith Community Outreach Coordinator, Athan brings together people of faith and diverse communities to engage in solutions to hunger and food access that sustain local agriculture. He is the lead organizer for the Come to the Table Conference series. Athan’s extensive career includes more than a decade of experience in utilizing philanthropy as an effective tool for building and transforming communities. He is also committed to helping build skills and expand the knowledge base of concerned citizens interested in broadening civic participation to solve complex community problems. Athan is a founding partner of the Next Generation of African American Philanthropists (NGAAP), a giving circle based in the Triangle region of NC, and the Community Investment Network, a national network of giving circles. He is a 2000 Fellow of the Southeastern Council of Foundations Hull Leadership and the recipient of the Association of Black Foundation Executive’s (ABFE) 2006 Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Award. Athan graduated from Davidson College in 1993 with a BA in History. As a native of Winston-Salem, he currently resides in North Carolina with his wife, Cori.

Salem Neff Staff PhotoSalem Neff, Local Food Access Coordinator

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x206

Salem will be working to increase the ability of North Carolina farmers markets and other direct market farm outlets to serve low-wealth communities and address access to healthy, sustainably raised food. Salem comes to RAFI with experience as a farmers market founder and manager, small business owner and market vendor and local food event organizer. While market manager at the Cobblestone Farmers Market in Winston-Salem, she established their SNAP/EBT and FMNP WIC programs and raised additional incentive funds to increase consumer usage. Salem holds a BA in Anthropology from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Carson Whitmore, Local Food Access Ambassador VISTA

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 259-5169
Carson is an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving as Local Food Access Ambassador. In partnership with the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project in Asheville, North Carolina, she will work to expand and improve SNAP/EBT access at farmer’s markets. Prior to joining RAFI, Carson apprenticed and volunteered at farms and nonprofits in the Southern Appalachians. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies with a focus on policy from Warren Wilson College.



Edna Rodriguez, Development Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x202

Edna is responsible for managing and expanding the organization’s portfolio of institutional and individual donors. 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, Edna served as Business Development Director at NemediaSoft, Senior Program Officer at the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and Director of Educational & Career Services at the Latin American Association in Atlanta, GA. Edna holds a BA in Economics with a Concentration in Latin American Studies from Haverford College. Twitter: @AgPhilanthropy


Elizabeth MacLachlan

Elizabeth MacLachlan, Finance Director

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396 x212

Elizabeth currently serves as RAFI’s Finance Director. Previously, she spent nine years as the first Executive Director at the NC Public Health Foundation developing and growing the organization, and two years serving as a Community Development Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Suriname, South America. She holds a MPH in Nutrition from UNC Chapel Hill, a BS in Biology from Montana State University, and an AA in Rural Resource Management from Sterling College in Vermont.

Hayes Simpson
Hayes Simpson, Communications Coordinator VISTA

Email: [email protected]
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x208
Hayes is an AmeriCorps VISTA member with RAFI, serving as Communications Coordinator to strengthen RAFI’s communications and media relations capacity. She comes to RAFI with a background in journalism, nonprofit communications, and agricultural production. Hayes received her BA in Journalism and Mass Communication from UNC-Chapel Hill and her AAS degree in Sustainable Agriculture from CCCC-Pittsboro. She is interested in southern studies, food sovereignty, local food systems, and nonprofit capacity building.