Scott Marlow, Executive Director
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
Edna Rodriguez, Operations Director
Tel: (919) 542-1396, x202
Edna currently serves as our Operations Director. She previously served as our Development Director. She is primarily responsible for providing high-level oversight to our staff and managing 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.
Jean Willoughby, Program Communications Manager & Project Director
Tel: (919) 621-8453
Jean serves as our Communications Manager and as the Project Director of the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund, our cost-share grant program for innovative and entrepreneurial farmers. In 2014, she initiated our Growing Innovation project, a multi-media online archive of entrepreneurial and innovative food and farm projects that draws from the grant program’s twenty-year history. Jean works with our staff on a variety of communications and development projects, from managing communications for our partnership with Burt’s Bees, to serving as a writer and producer for our feature-length documentary on farmers and the poultry industry, Under Contract, to developing tools and resources for farmers, farmers’ markets, and cooperatives. Jean holds a BA in Sociology from Wesleyan University.
Benny Bunting, Lead Farm Advocate, Farm Advocacy
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 and to read his full bio.
Sally Lee, Program Director, Contract Agriculture Reform
Tel: (919) 323-7587
Sally works directly with poultry farmers and manages RAFI’s Contract Agriculture Reform program. She recently completed a joint master in Agricultural Economics and International Rural Development, assessing farmer risk in American poultry production contracts while at the University of Humboldt in Berlin. She has a background in social justice, including working at RAFI previously for four years with the Agricultural Justice Project, a social justice certification program for farms and businesses. She also worked as the Social Justice Consultant for Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in contributing to the development of the Sustainability Assessments for Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) indicators, which are used globally as a framework for policy development and business assessment.
Tyler Whitley, Contract Agriculture Case Manager, Contract Agriculture Reform
Tel: (919) 621-0534
Tyler works directly with contract livestock and poultry farmers as an advocate with a background in agricultural development and finance. He provides support and resources to individual farmers, organizes workshops, and works alongside our Lead Farm Advocate, Benny Bunting. He also contributes to RAFI’s policy based initiatives to level the playing field for contract farmers. Before transitioning to the nonprofit sector, Tyler worked in finance at a national bank providing mortgage refinancing. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health, he was drawn to the issues of food security and agricultural sustainability. Tyler worked with Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Cambodia helping rural farmers improve their livelihoods and production. Most recently, he returned to the U.S. from Haiti, where he worked with smallholder farmers to form farmer associations to address the community’s needs. Tyler holds a BS in Biology from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and a MPH from Tulane University.
If you are a contract livestock farmer in need of assistance, please contact Tyler at the email or phone number above.
Ben Paynter, Project Coordinator, Agricultural Reinvestment Fund
Tel: (919) 259-5169
Ben serves as Project Coordinator for the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund. He provides technical assistance and support to farmer grantees involved in the program. Ben also contributes to the Growing Innovation project, RAFI’s multi-media archive of farmer-driven innovation. Ben has worked with RAFI since 2014, starting first as a volunteer on the Growing Innovation project. In 2015, he continued to work with RAFI as an assistant to the Farm Sustainability program as an Americorps VISTA. Before working with RAFI, Ben spent time working on small scale, diversified farming operations in the Appalachian Mountains as well as in the service industry as a cook. He holds a BS in Sustainable Development, with a concentration in Agroecology as well as a minor in Geography, from Appalachian State University.
Michael Sligh, Program Director, Just Foods Program
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)
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.
Margaret Krome-Lukens, Project Manager, Beyond Hunger Relief Program
Margaret manages the Beyond Hunger Relief Project, which exists to identify, develop and expand sustainable solutions to food insecurity that also work to strengthen just and sustainable agriculture. Prior to joining RAFI, she worked as a farm hand and manager on farms in the Triangle, and most recently ran the SNAP/EBT program at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. She holds a BA in International Studies from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.
Tahz Walker, Project Director, Come to the Table Project
Tel: (919) 548-6825
Tahz serves as 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. He has spent the last 14 years working on small organic farms, and community-based food projects in North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky. Tahz has witnessed a dramatic shift in cultural food traditions as well as access to healthy food choices in many urban and rural communities that he has lived in. This has fueled his ongoing commitment to food sovereignty and agroecology.
Lisa Misch, Project Coordinator, Fresh Bucks Program
Tel: (919) 270-8100
Lisa coordinates the Fresh Bucks Program, which seeks to understand the potential for and limitations of using SNAP/EBT-based incentive programs at farmers markets as a means of increasing food access among rural, low-income communities in North Carolina. Prior to joining RAFI, Lisa served as the AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer at the College of Menominee Nation in Keshena, WI where she managed the Tribe’s farmers market. Lisa has previous experience managing a farmers market in La Crosse, WI and working on small, sustainable farms in the Midwest and internationally. She holds a BA in Environmental Studies from St. Olaf College.