Meet the Board

President: Monika Soria Caruso

SoriaCarusoMonika joined the Board in the summer of 2013, and served as Vice President until assuming her current role. She discovered the Refuge at an animal law symposium, and made two decisions that day: to become involved with the Refuge, and to enroll in law school.  A vegan since junior high school, she has spent over half her life advocating for animals through shelter work, outreach, policy change and mentorship.

As a Midwest native who swore she’d never leave Chicago, a small acreage in Saxapahaw was all it took to change her mind. She and her family left downtown Chicago in 2008 and traded up for a small subsistence farm and several pet rescue hens. Outside of debating the merits of ‘breakfast’ brownies with her vegan eight-year old, Monika’s interests include animal law and policy change, freelance recipe development, textile crafts and marathon coaching.

Vice President: Jennifer Hadley


Jennifer joined the Board in the fall of 2013 and currently serves as its Vice President; she is also the interim treasurer.   She first learned about Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge at a vegan bake sale in early 2013 where she met other Board members and realized that her background in finance could help support the growth of this non-profit organization.  She became vegan shortly after this and loves living cruelty free.

Having spent a career in corporate finance and always feeling she missed her true calling to work with animals, Jennifer has found a home with Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge. When not working on the Refuge and planning outreach events, Jennifer can be found cooking up new vegan recipes with her two kids and playing with her two German Shepherds, Apollo and Athena. She also loves traveling, taking her kids on adventures, skiing, scuba diving and camping.

 Secretary: Tessa Burmania  tessabio

Tessa joined the Board in Fall 2014 and currently serves as the board secretary.

She found the Refuge during the barn raising campaign. A vegan for ethical reasons, she was excited to have the opportunity to help animals and educate others on the benefits of veganism so close to home.

Tessa enjoys cooking, entertaining in her home and vegetable gardening.

Natacha Estrade

Natacha joined the Board in January 2015. A vegan for over 2 years and a long time vegetarian before that, she recalls questioning the consumption of animals in society at a very young age. Native to Brazil although in the U.S. for the majority of her life, with education in International Business and Project Management, she felt she had skills she could offer to assist in the growth of Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge. She has a deep sense that animal sanctuaries are not only vital to the animals that need to be rescued, but just as much to humans and our growing knowledge of the horrors of animal exploitation, as this is often too dark of a subject that requires some soul healing after exposure to such information. Natacha loves her dogs, spending time outdoors, cooking, discussing the subject of animal rights at length and reading.

Cara Smelter

CaraSmelterCara joined the Board in the fall of 2015.  She has been a vegetarian since 2001 and went vegan in 2013.  You will often find Cara at protests advocating for farm animals, volunteering at the Refuge, or at vegan outreach events.  In addition to her work with the Refuge, Cara is a researcher of late nineteenth century African American history.

Cara resides in the beautiful City of Oaks with her partner Phillip and their beloved cat companion, Tinker.  Cara loves filling her days chilling with Phillip and Tinker, painting and drawing, frequenting independent theaters, and listening to her favorite podcast, Uhh Yeah Dude. 

Dan Turbert

DanTurbert_resizedDan and his wife, Laura, and their daughter, Gracie, recently moved to North Carolina from Connecticut. Dan is excited to help the Refuge in his areas of expertise with leveraging databases and CRMs to help manage the needs of the organization.

Dan stumbled across veganism three years ago after the birth of his daughter. His questions concerning the health benefits of a plant-based diet led to research regarding animal agriculture, opening his heart, and an awareness to the unjust cruelties animals endure for our food choices. After their move to NC, he sought out organizations he could help out and couldn’t be happier to volunteer and serve with Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge.

Dylan Muckerman

Dylan joined the Board in May 2017. He’s been vegan for 4 years and was vegetarian for a few years before that. Shortly after discovering the Refuge, Dylan began volunteering and loves being able to have such a direct impact on animals’ lives. Outside of his work with the Refuge, he is pursuing a PhD in mathematics.

Dylan lives in Carrboro with his two cats Gerd and Mushroom. He loves growing plants, befriending animals, reading books, and learning about anything.