Our experienced team of advocates and attorneys bring energy, expertise and dedication to Friends of Farmworkers.


Mana Aliabadi

Paralegal  

Tel: 412-636-2473

Email: maliabadi[at]friendsfw.org

 

 

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.  

 


Kathryn Brown

Supervising Attorney - East

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 190

Email: kbrown[at]friendsfw.org

 

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

Outreach Specialist – Voces 

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 221

Email: abuell[at]friendsfw.org

 

Athena Buell Becerra joined Friends of Farmworkers full-time in May 2017 after working as an intern in our anti-trafficking program. In her new role, Athena participates in outreach and education about harassment and violence in the workplace across Pennsylvania, as well as assists in providing immigration legal aid to survivors of crime and trafficking. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a dual degree in Urban Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies. Alongside her studies, Athena interned at Casa Monarca and the African Cultural Alliance of North America. Before this, she interned at California Rural Legal Services for six months. Athena hopes to use and build on her experience to continue to work for the social and economic justice of all people, especially within our immigrant communities.


Liz M. Chacko

Deputy Director

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 130

Email: lchacko[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.


Seok H. "Daniel" Choi

Staff Attorney

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 180

Email: dchoi[at]friendsfw.org

 

Dan joined Friends of Farmworkers in August 2017.  He spent most of his career as a legal aid attorney, working with low wage immigrant workers.  He handles a mix of employment, consumer, and immigration law cases.  Dan is a former Equal Justice Works fellow and a Returned El Salvador Peace Corps Volunteer.  He is affiliated with several nonprofit advocacy organizations, and currently serves on the board of the National Association of Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC).  Dan is a graduate of New York Law School and Binghamton University.  


Chelsea Edwards

Independence Fellow

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 220

Email: cedwards[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.

 


Paula Govey

Grants and Compliance Manager

 

215-733-0878, ext. 210

Email: pgovey[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.


Vanessa Griffith, JD

215-733-0878, ext. 224

Email: vgriffith[at]friendsfw.org

 

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. 

 


Mathew Lamberti

Supervising Attorney - West

 

Tel: (412) 208-6772

Email: mlamberti[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.


Diana Luna
Supervising Paralegal


Tel:  (215) 733-0878, ext.  120
Email: dluna[at]friendsfw.org

 

Diana joined Friends of Farmworkers full-time in July 2016. She is a recent graduate of Middlebury College, where she majored in Sociology/Anthropology. Diana was awarded the Lank Prize in Sociology and Anthropology for her undergraduate thesis, “Voices from the Margins: Revisiting the Narratives of Undocumented Immigrant Youth within the Immigrant Rights Movement.” In this thesis, she explored how undocumented Latino immigrant youth organizers in certain localities in eastern Pennsylvania think about their undocumented experiences and how they are framing the issue of unauthorized immigration through their narratives. Diana hopes to continue working to ensure that undocumented and immigrant communities are able to lead full and dignified lives. 


Meredith C. Rapkin

Executive Director

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 110

Email: mrapkin[at]friendsfw.org

 

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

General Counsel

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 150

Email: aread[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.

 

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Prebistera (Pennie) Rodriguez

Administrative Support

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878

Email: prodriguez[at]friendsfw.org

 

Pennie joined FOF 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.


Priscilla Ruilova

Paralegal & Office Manager

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 100

Email: pruilova[at]friendsfw.org

 


Vanessa Stine

Staff Attorney

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 140

Email: vstine[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.


Evy Tolentino

Paralegal

 

Tel: (215) 733-0878, ext. 220

Email: etolentino[at]friendsfw.org

 

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.