BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ann López, Ph.D.— Executive Director
Dr. Ann López is an emerita professor and has taught courses in biology, environmental science, ecology and botany in the biology department at San José City College for many years. She is an independent researcher whose research addresses the human side of the binational migration circuit from the subsistence and small producer farms of west central Mexico to employment in California’s corporate agribusiness. Dr. López has worked with over 33 farm worker families in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys. She has also studied 22 of their family farms in the west central Mexico countryside, and has received recognition and awards for her work.
Her book entitled The Farmworkers’ Journey summarizes the results, arguments and conclusions of her research and was published by UC Press in June 2007. In 2008 she was also chosen as one of Silicon Valley’s 100 most influential Latinos in the category of Technology, Health and Science by the Mexican American Community Services Agency (MACSA). In March 2008, her book received the Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America from the Society for the Anthropology of North America. In February 2012, Dr. Lopez and her organization won the Social Justice Award at the 32nd Annual Western Regional EcoFarm Conference in Asilomar. She was chosen as a Woman of the Year for 2013 by the National Association of Professional Women. She was awarded the Human Agenda Ecological Sustainability Award in 2014 and the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc., awarded her with the Community Game Changer Award in 2015.
Dr. Lopez’ research findings while interviewing central California farmworker families and their family members in Mexico were fundamentally disturbing and life transforming. As a result, she is actively attempting to create awareness about the Human Rights abuses that are endemic to every juncture of the migrant circuit. She has also initiated many projects on both sides of the border designed to alleviate some of the inordinate suffering experienced daily by migrant farm workers and their family members in Mexico. To this end, she and associates have created a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization on behalf of central California farm workers and their family members living on subsistence farms in Mexico.
Recent Published Articles: López, A.A., 2011. New Questions in the Immigration Debate. Anthropology Now 3(1) pp. 47–53 | López, A.A., 2011. NAFTA and the Campesinas Left Behind. Anthropology Now 3(2) pp. 35-40.
Degrees: Ph.D. in Environmental Studies, UC Santa Cruz, 2002 Dissertation Title: From the Farms of West Central Mexico to California’s Corporate Agribusiness: The Social Transformation of Two Farming Regions.
Post-Doc at UC Berkeley from 2004 to 2006 | M.A. in Environmental Biology, UC Santa Barbara | B.A. in Biology, UC Riverside
Sami Monsur — TREASURER
Sami Monsur is multi-lingual, bi-cultural, and holds a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies. She is a Resource Analyst in the Lurie College of Education at San José State University. She is very active in San José neighborhood projects. She is the past President of the McKinley/Bonita Neighborhood Association and offers her front yard to low-income families to grow organic vegetable for themselves and neighbors. She is also the chair of the board of directors for Garden to Table (G2T). Garden to Table is an organization supporting community in growing produce, providing locally harvested food to those in need, increasing social interactions among community members and developing an educational garden for all ages.
Cynthia Burnham, Advisor
Cynthia Burnham was born and raised in Mexico. She holds an MA in Mathematics from UC Berkeley and teaches community college mathematics with an emphasis on helping Latinos achieve academic success. Cynthia joined the team in 2010 and uses her strong advocacy, background in education, and bilingual skills to promote our projects.
Betsy McCann, Ph.D., Secretary
Betsy earned her Ph.D. in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications from Texas A&M University with an emphasis on international agricultural development and nonprofit leadership. Her dissertation, "The Seven Cs Ethical Model of Communication: Environmental Communication and Indigenous Knowledge Management Strategies in International Agricultural Development" created a program planning and evaluation framework for improving international collaborations and incorporated a case study of her work with the Center for Farmworker Families in Cuquio, Jalisco. Prior to joining the board of directors in 2010, she analyzed the consequences of UNESCO agricultural preservation efforts in Mexico, as well as the agricultural and social implications of post-conflict land distribution and land tenure reform in Guatemala. She designed a curriculum and taught pit composting to indigenous farmers in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, and worked as the Communication Strategist for the Rodale Institute where she focused on connections between agriculture and climate change. A public speaking coach who excels at refining scientific messages for the public, Betsy is currently working to expand the Center's communication and development initiatives. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Josetta (Jo) Owen
Jo was born on the Rio Grande in Texas. She was raised in NY and MA. Having earned a BS in Ed. from MCLA in Massachusetts, she taught 3rd grade children of migrant farm workers at McKinley School in San Jose, CA. She was chosen to be a “master teacher” by San Jose State University while teaching at McKinley.
From 1970 – 1985, she was a full-time mom for her two sons, as her husband’s academic work had them moving from CA to NC, DC and VA. While in DC, she studied theology in the evenings at Georgetown University.
In 1988, she volunteered for a powerful week in “Maria Madre de los Pobres,” a slum of 30,000 in El Salvador in the midst that country’s civil war. She was so deeply moved by the campesinos, she returned for a week, every year, for 14 years, to accompany the poor.
She also observed Tex-Mex border crossings and US gov’t responses with “The Overground Railroad.” Her lifelong passion for justice, especially for Latinos, has led her to join "Center for Farmworker Families". Jo has served on eight boards. Those related to CFF’s work include: “The National Debate for Peace in El Salvador” 1988-1993; “Refugee Voices” 1988-1995; and “Samaritan House,” serving the poor and undocumented of San Mateo County, 2003-2005. Jo received an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from her alma mater in 2010.
Jason Bayless is a diverse activist with a wide range of experience. Jason worked at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in a number of positions including Senior Youth Outreach Specialist, Circus Monitor, and Senior Projects Specialist. He has traveled the country documenting and reporting animal abuse and neglect within the entertainment industry, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the NYC horse drawn carriage industry.
Jason was on the Advisory Board of Food Empowerment Project, a vegan food justice organization. He currently is on the board of Center for Farmworker Families, non-profit organization dedicated to education, advocacy, and support for farmworker families.
Jason Bayless is the U.S. Community Development Specialist with Pachamama Alliance. His focus with Pachamama Alliance is to support volunteers and co-develop resources and trainings that strike at the root of systems and structures that keep us separated from each other and Earth.