Meet the Team
Our non-profit animal refuge is run by a small team of dedicated people who cater to every animal's individual needs. These incredible people invest countless hours into ensuring that Ziggy's runs as efficiently as possible!
Kristin graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2008, then moved to the US Virgin Islands, where she met and fell in love with Ziggy The Piggy and her partner Jay. An animal advocate since childhood, Kristin became a vegetarian at the age of five and dreamt of one day having a pig. When she was 24, that dream became a reality when she heard there was a teacup pig in need of a home. Ziggy moved in with Kristin, and the rest is history!
After six years in the Virgin Islands, Kristen and Jay moved back to the US in 2014 and traveled the entire US with Ziggy while volunteering at as many animal sanctuaries as possible. Eventually, they decided it was time to create their own safe haven for animals. In 2016 they purchased Kristin’s dream farm, were approved as a 501c3 and started rescuing animals. Today Kristin is living her happiest life surrounded by neglected, abused, and disabled rescues who finally have the happiness and love they’ve always deserved.
In 2011, Jay became an animal activist after meeting Ziggy and Kristin. His role in their lives quickly changed his entire perspective on animals and animal rights. He started living a vegan lifestyle and discovered a passion for farm animal advocacy.
Jay’s background in engineering and construction complements his responsibilities for the multitude of projects and daily maintenance on the farm. He also directs daily operations, including animal care, feeding, and administrative duties. While the hard work and long hours can be exhausting, Jay would never choose any other life for himself than the one where he gets to care for these beautiful creatures every single day.
Social Media and Outreach Coordinator
Anna Wagner, MPH, RD
Anna first visited 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 in-person classes 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 rescue and animal care.
Throughout the years, Anna has continued to devote time to the wellbeing of Ziggy’s animals and the organization while working on her Master’s at UNC Chapel Hill, about an hour away. She helps run our social media pages, manages outreach efforts, and comes to visit the farm every weekend!
Board Member and Veterinary Coordinator
Dr. Jan Hawkins, DVM, DACVS
Dr. Hawkins is the Large Animal Surgery section head and a professor at Purdue University, as well as the president elect of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). A graduate of NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Hawkins is esteemed in the field of large animal surgery, and is a tireless advocate to advancing veterinary medicine to be more compassionate, effective, and innovative in the treatment of farm animals. Dr. Susan Hawkins is an equally passionate vet and animal lover who has also been integral to the care of our animals here at Ziggy's. We are so blessed to have his expertise and compassion as a driving force in our organization!
Secretary / Compliance Manager
Cherie retired in 2007 from a career in finance as an Operations and Compliance Manager. It was time to focus on raising her two girls while chasing her philanthropic dreams of working with non-profit organizations.
Cherie became a weekly volunteer at TWRC (Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center), in Houston TX, and earned her IWRC (International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) certification to care for and treat multiple wildlife species. During this time, Cherie also led rescue missions and fostered dogs from high-kill shelters. In early 2016, Cherie fell deeply in love with animal rescue work, animal advocacy, and caring for farm animals. These passions eventually led her to visit Ziggy's Refuge in North Carolina, where she's been volunteering ever since!
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 with a degree in Psychology at Harvard University.
Rafaela is involved with Conservation groups and research projects. Being a vegetarian for 12 years and vegan for five years, Rafaela is a passionate and dedicated animal rights activist. She joined Ziggy’s Refuge three 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.
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