Our experienced team of advocates and attorneys bring energy, expertise and dedication to Friends of Farmworkers.
Mana joined Friends of Farmworkers in August 2017. She recently completed an M.A. in Immigration Management from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. While in Europe, she gained both theoretical and practical experience as she studied the current so-called migrant “crisis.” She volunteered as a Farsi language translator and supply distribution coordinator at Oinofyta refugee camp located outside of Athens, Greece. In 2015, she graduated with a B.A. in Law and Society from American University in Washington DC. Throughout her career, Mana has continued to work in diverse fields including social justice organizing, journalism, research and social work. She is thrilled to be a part of the Friends of Farmworkers team and put her skills work in order to improve the lives of low wage immigrant workers in Pennsylvania and beyond.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 180
Alia joined us in April 2018. Her work focuses on wage theft and employment-related issues faced by immigrant workers in Pennsylvania. She graduated Order of the Coif from American University Washington College of Law and received the Dean’s Award for Professional Responsibility for her work in the Immigrant Justice Clinic. Alia’s work prior to and during law school was dedicated to criminal justice reform, immigrants’ rights, and gender justice. After graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Hilda G. Tagle in the Southern District of Texas. Prior to joining Friends of Farmworkers, Alia was a law fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Miami, Florida, where she litigated and advocated on behalf of incarcerated people in Florida prisons and immigration detention centers.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 226
Nancy joined Friends of Farmworkers in March 2018. She serves as the Medical Legal Partnership staff attorney at the Puentes de Salud medical clinic in Philadelphia three times a week, where she provides legal on-site consultations. Nancy graduated cum laude from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. She received a dual degree in Sociology and Spanish, with minors in Latin American Studies and Ethnic Studies. She received her law degree from Delaware Law School-Widener University in May 2016. During law school, Nancy worked at immigration law firms where she assisted attorneys with a wide range of immigration cases and served as an interpreter. As an immigrant of Mexico, from a family of low-income farm workers, and a first generation attorney, Nancy hopes to provide legal services to the most vulnerable communities. She is a member of the Chester County Bar Association.
Supervising Attorney - East
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 190
Ms. Brown joined Friends of Farmworkers in 2013 as an Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow. Her fellowship project focused on resolving the immigration-related legal barriers that often prevent workers from asserting their workplace rights. Ms. Brown continues that work today, representing victims of labor trafficking and other workplace crimes in their applications for immigration relief and in civil legal claims against the traffickers. She received her J.D. from the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in 2013. Before attending law school Ms. Brown worked as an immigration representative at the Nationalities Service Center. She received her M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. from Kenyon College.
Athena Buell Becerra
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 221
Athena Buell Becerra initially joined FOF as a team member of the Voces de Trabajadoras/Voices of Women at Work project, a legal social work collaboration funded by the Department of Justice Office of Violence against Women that provided free legal, mental health, and victim support services to Latinx immigrants who have experienced sexual harassment or violence in the workplace. This work included training first responders and other service providers on offering culturally and linguistically competent services to immigrant survivors.
Athena continues that work today, through an anti-trafficking project funded by the DOJ Office for Victims of Crime, supporting victims of labor trafficking and other workplace crimes in their applications for immigration relief and civil litigation. Athena graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Urban Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies. She has experience working with non-profit organizations in the provision of legal and other services to immigrant communities in California and Pennsylvania, including California Rural Legal Assistance – Salinas and African Cultural Alliance of North America.
Liz M. Chacko
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 130
Liz has been an attorney at Friends of Farmworkers since 2006. She is a member of several bar associations, including the South Asian Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild. In 2010, she was appointed to the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission’s Advisory Committee on Human Trafficking. Liz is also a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition. She received her law degree from Boston College Law School in 2003, where she served as a writer and on the editorial board of the Boston College Third World Law Journal. Liz received her bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from New York University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 220
Chelsea recently joined Friends of Farmworkers as an Independence Foundation Public Interest Fellow. Her project provides support and representation to women working in the restaurant industry. She graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2015, and during her time there she was a Toll Public Interest Scholar, served with Penn's Transnational Legal Clinic and Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, and interned with Human Rights Watch, Nationalities Service Center and Friends of Farmworkers. She then served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gerald McHugh in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and to the Honorable Cheryl Krause in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Before law school, Chelsea worked in case management at both a transitional home for women with HIV and their children in Washington, DC, and at an organization serving families involved in the Philadelphia foster care system. She also holds a BA in Journalism and International Studies from Emory University.
Grants and Compliance Manager
215-733-0878, ext. 210
Paula joined Friends of Farmworkers in September 2016 as our Grants and Compliance Manager. She has worked for social service organizations throughout Pennsylvania managing both Federal and State grants and creating compliance systems to ensure that quality services are being provided to clients. She has also volunteered with various anti-human trafficking organizations, such as Women At Risk and the Not For Sale campaign, to raise awareness and empower victims of trafficking. Paula received her B.S. from Messiah College in 2007 majoring in International Business with a concentration in Economic Development.
215-733-0878, ext. 100
Ian joined Friends of Farmworkers in February 2018. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 2016, where he completed a major in philosophy and a minor in biology. While at Swarthmore , he spent five months studying Spanish language and literature in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduation, Ian worked as an Americorps VISTA fellow at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where he helped to coordinate a joint project of the library and the School District of Philadelphia. Following his time in Americorps, Ian worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm in Philadelphia, where his work focused on family-based immigration.
215-733-0878, ext. 224
Vanessa joined Friends of Farmworkers in September of 2017. She recently graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where she participated in the law school’s Immigration Law Clinic. Upon graduation from Pitt Law, Vanessa was awarded the Pro Bono Service Recognition Award and the School of Law Community Service Award. During law school, she served as the Executive Editor for The Pittsburgh Journal of Technology Law & Policy, a board member for Moot Court, and as a legal writing teaching assistant. Prior to law school, Vanessa volunteered in Santa Marta, Colombia for a grassroots nonprofit, Fundación Mariposas Amarillas, where she worked for five months as their Social Projects Coordinator. Her work focused on providing health, educational, and recreational services to women and children in an isolated neighborhood in Santa Marta. Vanessa has a B.S. from SUNY College at Oneonta where she dual majored in Political Science and International Studies. In 2012 she spent a semester studying in Chile.
215-733-0878, ext. 227
Lisa Hurlbutt is an immigration staff attorney, primarily assisting victims of workplace crime and labor trafficking in Philadelphia. She came to Friends of Farmworkers in May 2018 from Temple University Beasley School of Law, where she served as Director of Public Interest Programs in the Office of Career Services for five years. From 2006 to 2013, she practiced immigration law as an Independence Foundation Fellow and a staff attorney at HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) Pennsylvania. In 2009-10, Lisa also co-taught and supervised law students in the Transnational Legal Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After law school, she clerked for (now retired) Judge Phyllis W. Beck of the Pennsylvania Superior Court. She received her JD from Boston College Law School cum laude and is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.
215-733-0878, ext. 228
Lerae joined Justice at Work in May 2018 as an attorney focused on wage theft and employment-related issues in western and central PA. Prior to joining JAW, she practiced civil legal aid in Massachusetts as a medical-legal attorney for families at Boston Children’s Hospital and, from 2014 to 2017, as a humanitarian immigration attorney with Central West Justice Center in Worcester. She graduated from Harvard Law School where she was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, the nation’s first student-run legal services clinic. She received the Exemplary Clinical Student Award and the Betty Allebach Award for her two years of work representing low-income individuals in family, housing, and employment matters. Lerae is originally from Michigan, where she graduated from Calvin College with a B.A. in Political Science with specialties in Spanish, Journalism and Gender Studies.
Supervising Attorney - West
Tel: (412) 208-6772
Matthew Lamberti is a staff attorney for immigrant communities in the western part of the state, including Pittsburgh and Erie. He was previously a managing attorney, working on detention and removal issues and the Legal Orientation Program, at the Pennsylvania Immigration Resource Center (PIRC). He was also a staff attorney with PIRC from 2010-2013, defending low-income migrants in asylum, U visa, and criminal removal cases in the York Immigration Court. Matt has experience as a legal service provider for low-income immigrants in Baton Rouge, LA, and Indianapolis, IN. He attended CUNY School of Law and participated in its immigrants' rights clinic. While at CUNY, Matthew received fellowships from the Public Interest Lawyers Association and the Columbian Lawyers Association of New York, enabling him to do pro bono legal service in South Africa and to study Spanish in Peru. He has a BA in English and Philosophy from Notre Dame, and an MA in English and Irish literature from Boston College.
Meredith C. Rapkin
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 110
Meredith began her advocacy for low-income immigrant communities as an Independence Foundation Public Interest Law Fellow in 2004, a fellowship that allowed her to work at HIAS and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia specializing in cases involving immigrant victims of interpersonal violence. After the conclusion of that fellowship, Meredith remained at HIAS and continued assisting immigrant women who were survivors of domestic violence under a larger grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. Meredith later spent two years as a Clinical Teaching Fellow at the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic at the Villanova University School of Law, where she used her Spanish language and litigation skills to oversee law students charged with the representation of farmworkers in both employment and immigration matters. She also serves as a consulting attorney to the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia. Meredith received her J.D. from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, where she was the Executive Editor of the Political and Civil Rights Law Review. Upon graduation in 2004, Meredith received a prize in International Law.
Arthur N. Read
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 150
Mr. Read has served as general counsel for Friends of Farmworkers, Inc. since 1982. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and from New York University School of Law in 1976. A frequent lecturer and author on workers' rights, Mr. Read is well-known for his representation of workers. In Vlasic Farms, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (2001), he won the right to organize for workers in Pennsylvania's mushroom industry. His collective bargaining agreements for the Kaolin Workers Union are the only such contracts in the mushroom industry. His lawsuits under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Relations Act have resulted in injunctive relief that has served as a model for compliance. Mr. Read has also been an advocate for those with limited English proficiency, including serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee on Racial and Gender Bias, which contributed to a law mandating certified court interpreters.
Prebistera (Pennie) Rodriguez
Tel: (215) 733-0878
Pennie joined us in March of 2007 as our administrative assistant and notary public. Pennie is an instrumental part of the staff, keeping us all organized and on task. She does not want us to say too much about her here, but we will say this: we would be lost without her. While Pennie "retired" in January of 2014, she continues to help us keep the office running by working part-time with us.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 120
Priscilla joined Friends of Farmworkers in September of 2017. She is a 2017 graduate of Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations and minoring in Law & Society. Priscilla has always had a passion for working to protect human rights. Working for the Prisoner Express Program in Ithaca, NY and being the Project Manager of an anti-trafficking student organization, International Justice Mission-Cornell, fueled her passion for social justice work. She also benefited from working as a translator for the Cornell Law School Clinic and learned about the effect of globalization and multinational corporations on today’s workforce when she studied abroad at University College Dublin. As a low-income, first generation college graduate, Priscilla desires to work in support of workers and communities of color and is excited to continue her journey at Friends of Farmworkers.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 140
Vanessa Stine graduated Order of the Coif from Villanova Law School in 2014. She joined Friends of Farmworkers in the fall of 2014 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. Her fellowship project provides direct representation, advocacy, and community education to low-income consumers who have been victims of predatory and fraudulent immigration services in Pennsylvania. During law school, Vanessa spent both her summers at Friends of Farmworkers, one as a Peggy Browning Fund Fellow. She also interned at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) of Pennsylvania, participated for three semesters in the Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic at Villanova, and started the Notario Fraud Project, which documents victims’ stories about immigration fraud and helps victims fight back. Vanessa was awarded the Super Lawyers Pro Bono Award for her extensive work combating notario fraud and we are thrilled to have her with us at FOF as an Equal Justice Works fellow, enabling us to help victims of these fraudulent schemes seek justice.
Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 225
Evy joined Friends of Farmworkers in July, 2017. She is a recent graduate of Rowan University. Evy was chosen as the recipient for Rowan's 2017 Sociology Medallion Award, an award for the student who best demonstrates how social forces shape our experiences, opportunities, and social realities. As a part of her studies, Evy was also an intern at the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC) and participated in various PICC campaigns, including Shut Down Berks and ICE Out of Schools. As a child of immigrants, Evy feels strongly connected to the cause of immigrant justice and looks forward to engaging in this work for years to come.