Hannia Benitez – President
Hannia is foremost a dedicated wife, mother, daughter, and big sister. She is also a youth leader at her church and public servant. She was born in “La Tierra de la Eterna Primavera, Guatemala” (The Land of Eternal Spring) and raised in the “Delightfully Unexpected, Siler City”. She is joyfully satisfied with a warm cup of “café con leche y pan”, some tamales, and shrimp-anything. She looks forward to serving the community that is dear to her heart.
Carlos Sanchez – Vice-President
Carlos was born in Mexico City and has lived in Siler City since 2001. He graduated from Jordan Matthews High School in 2011. He currently works as an interpreter for Chatham County Schools and as a lab assistant at CCCC. He is looking forward to collaborating with El Vínculo again and helping the community.
Anna Schmalz Rodriguez – Treasurer
Anna has been the Family Services Director at Chatham Habitat for Humanity since 2008. She has a BA in Political Science from Marist College in her home state of New York, and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. While in California, she was an Adult ESL instructor and, at CCCC, she spent several semesters teaching beginning and intermediate Spanish. Anna has spent time in Honduras, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. She travels regularly to Mexico to visit her in-laws. Anna lives in Durham with her husband, their daughter and her nephew.
Eleazar Reyna Ocampo – Secretary
Elea is originally from Mexico, and has lived in Siler City since she was 7 years old. As a teenager, she participated in The Hispanic Liaison’s youth group and youth radio show called “Teen Shout”. Elea is bilingual, outgoing and friendly. She lives on a 12-acre farm in Silk Hope where she enjoys gardening, caring for farm animals, planting fruit trees, making medicine with medicinal plants and foraging for wild edible plants. During her free time, she is a pottery maker and plays her native “Son Jarocho” music of Veracruz, Mexico. She is currently pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering at NC State University.
Don worked as an ESL teacher for 8 years with Chatham County Schools. He lives with his wife Nicole and two children on a small farmstead near Goldston. Don has been active for several years in the Chatham Soccer League. Don and his wife are entrepreneurs and own Piedmont Pine Coffins, a local business that makes affordable green burial coffins.
Elizabeth is a bilingual resident of Pittsboro. She is an Adjunct Professor of Law at UNC-Chapel Hill and joined the staff of the UNC Center for Civil Rights in 2010. After graduating from Duke University in 1992, Elizabeth taught Spanish at Southwest Edgecombe High School. In 1998, she earned a J.D. from UNC School of Law and received a fellowship from the National Association for Public Interest Law, which she used to represent low-income workers as a staff attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center. She entered private practice with the firm of Edelstein & Payne in Raleigh. Since 2005, Haddix has had a solo law practice serving low-income workers across the state.
Geovanni is of Mexican descent and has lived in Siler City since he was 4 years’ old. He works as the Teen Court Program Coordinator and Community Service Program Assistant for Chatham Community In Schools. After graduating from Jordan Matthews High School in 2011, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Johnston Scholar. As a 4 year old, Geovanni and his parents participated in The Hispanic Liaison’s Pre-K preparation program. During his college years at UNC, Geovanni served as a mentor, site coordinator, and co-director for the Scholars Latino Initiative. He is a passionate advocate for higher education for underrepresented and underprivileged students.
Jane Allen Wilson
Jane Allen is bilingual, a resident of Siler City, and has lived in Chatham County her entire life. She currently works as the Training Director for the N.C. Victims Assistance Network. She worked for 13 years with Family Violence and Rape Crises Services of Chatham County (FVRC) as a bilingual crisis advocate, court advocacy coordinator, and women’s shelter director. Other past organizations include the N.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and NC Telamon. She has worked as a university ESL teacher and an assistant teacher at a multi-cultural elementary school in the Dominican Republic. In the 1990’s, she was the press representative for the American Dance Festival, worked for U.S. Senator Terry Sanford and was a clerk for the N.C. House Committee on Finance and Public Utilities. She is passionate about public education and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Chatham County Board of Education.
Mike is the Health Promotion and Policy Division Director for the Chatham County Public Health Department, where he has worked since 2012. In this role, he oversees initiatives focused on building healthy and equitable communities where all residents have access to the resources needed to live healthy and fulfilling lives. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Mike came to North Carolina in 2010 to study Health Behavior/Health Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, he worked with a nonprofit organization in northern Nicaragua for three years, where he led health initiatives and taught English. Mike is excited to be a part of El Vínculo’s important work in Siler City and Chatham County.