The Ziggy's Team
Aside being able to operate solely based on donations, our nonprofit is run by a small but talented and dedicated team that cater to every animal's needs and the future of our nonprofit. Here are some of the team members that dedicate countless hours ensuring that Ziggy's runs as efficiently as possible!
Kristin has been an animal advocate from early in her childhood. She become a vegetarian at the age of 5. Her whole life she wanted a pet pig, but it took until she was 24 to make those dreams a reality when she heard there was a teacup pig in need of a home: Ziggy!
Kristin graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008 with a BSBA with a concentration in marketing. After graduation, she moved to the US Virgin Islands for 6 years where she acquired Ziggy and met her partner, Jay Yontz.
They moved back to the states in 2014, travelled the entire US with Ziggy while volunteering at as many sanctuaries as possible until it was time to figure out how to begin to plant their seeds and create their own safe haven for animals. In 2016, they were approved as a 501c3, purchased Kristin’s dream farm and began rescuing animals. Today she’s living her happiest life surrounded by neglected, abused and special needs rescues.
Vice President & Manager of Operations
Jay began his path towards animal activism abruptly upon meeting Ziggy and Kristin in St. John, Virgin Islands in 2011. Almost instantly he became a proud parent of Ziggy and his entire life and perspective on animal’s changed. Meeting and getting to know Ziggy led Jay to adopting a vegan lifestyle and quickly developed a passion advocating for all farm animals.
With a background in construction and an education in engineering, Jay is responsible for many of the projects and the general maintenance of the farm. He is also heavily involved in the daily operations (animal care, feeding, and administrative duties). While the hard work and long hours on the farm can be exhausting, Jay says he could never choose any other life for himself other than caring for these beautiful creatures.
Secretary and Compliance Manager
Cherie retired from the financial industry back in 2007, as a Manager of Operations and Compliance, to focus on raising her two girls while chasing her philanthropic dreams working with non-profits. She was a weekly volunteer at TWRC (Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center), in Houston TX, where she got her IWRC (International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) certification to care for and treat multiple wildlife species. In between then, Cherie led rescue missions and fostered dogs from high kill shelters. In early 2016 she began a journey at her first farm Sanctuary, in Texas, where she fell deeply in love with the rescue, animal advocacy, and care of farm animals.
After a couple of years, she decided to take a trip to a new sanctuary in, North Carolina, known as Ziggy’s Refuge Farm Sanctuary, where she has been volunteering ever since. Since volunteering at Ziggy’s Cherie has learned the fundamentals of running a farm sanctuary and will be contributing her knowledge of organization, leadership, and day to day operations. Cherie is a founding board member at Ziggy’s Refuge and has been an integral part of the growth and success of the organization.
Rafaela is an animal advocate who started getting actively involved in animal rescues in her early 20’s. She started studying Veterinary Medicine in Rio, Brazil, although moving to the U.S. changed her plans. She graduated in Psychology at Harvard University. Currently working with research, Rafaela is constantly involved with Conservation groups. Being a vegetarian for 12 years and vegan for 5 years, Rafaela is a passionate and dedicated animal rights activist. She joined Ziggy’s Refuge 3 years ago as a volunteer and quickly became a family member.
Rafaela and her husband, Alex, operate financial and statistical consulting services to Fortune 100 companies. We’re so blessed to have their experience and devotion to our organization.
Social Media and Outreach Coordinator
Anna first came to Ziggy’s in the fall of 2019 with a group from Appalachian State University on a weekend service trip. Later that Spring, Anna lost her job, housing situation, and had classes moved online due to COVID-19. Ziggy’s Refuge was also seeking on-site help at the time, the stars aligning perfectly for Anna to live in the tiny house on our property and spend the summer learning the ins and outs of the rescue and animal care. Anna is currently obtaining her Master’s in Public Health and Nutrition from UNC Chapel Hill, about an hour away. She helps run our social media pages, manage outreach efforts, and comes to visit the farm every weekend!