Rhea Pokala // Co-Chair
Rhea serves as the Co-Chair for NCPIRG at UNC as well as the Campaign Coordinator for the End Hunger & Homelessness Campaign. She is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursuing a major in Public Policy and a minor in Social and Economic Justice with plans to attend law school in the future. Rhea joined NCPIRG in her freshman year as a volunteer with the New Voters Project where she ran voter registration tables. Later, she started the End Hunger & Homelessness Campaign with Co-Chair Savannah Edmisten, where they raised money for a local hunger relief organization. Rhea is excited to continue growing the End Hunger & Homelessness Campaign and work with campus and community partners. Outside of NCPIRG, Rhea enjoys reading mystery novels, biking, and hanging out with friends.
Savannah Edmisten // Co-Chair
Savannah serves as the Co-Chair for NCPIRG at UNC as well as the Campaign Coordinator for the End Hunger & Homelessness Campaign. She is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Political Science and English and Comparative Literature with a minor in Social and Economic Justice. Savannah joined NCPIRG her sophomore year, working with the New Voters Project to increase voter turnout and civic engagement amongst her peers. She is looking forward to increasing voter turnout on campus in the upcoming elections and working with local charities to alleviate local food insecurity. Outside of NCPIRG, Savannah enjoys reading, spending time with friends, and being a member of her club dance team at UNC. In the future, Savannah hopes to do non-profit work and attend law school.
Zahria Williams // Vice Chair
Zahria serves as the Vice Chair for NCPIRG at UNC. She is a senior, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Sports Medicine and Neuroscience. Zahria joined NCPIRG’s End Hunger and Homelessness campaign her junior year, and helped organize a bake sale to raise money for a local charity. She enjoyed the large and direct impact that she was able to have on her community in such a short amount of time. Looking forward, Zahria is excited to continue working on NCPIRG’s goals, growing membership, and increasing the Hunger and Homelessness Campaign’s visibility on UNC’s campus. In her free time, Zahria enjoys reading and crocheting.
Zoe Bright // Treasurer
Zoe serves as the treasurer for NCPIRG at UNC. She is a sophomore studying Political Science and Data Science. She joined NCPIRG to work on the New Voters Project as a freshman to promote a culture of civic engagement at UNC. As we are coming up on a big election year in 2024 she’s looking forward to helping keep her peers informed about how to vote and access voting resources. Outside of PIRG she enjoys playing the Marching Tar Heels and getting to watch and perform at all the games!
Martha Plaehn // New Voter Project Campaign Coordinator
Martha serves as a Campaign Coordinator for the New Voters Project. She is a sophomore studying Political Science. She joined NCPIRG because she was passionate about democracy and voting and a friend told her about the New Voters Project. She loves being involved in nonpartisan voter education efforts because, as John Lewis said, “the vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society.” Martha is excited to continue tabling in the Pit with NVP this year to help voters get registered and learn more about the voting process! Outside of NCPIRG, Martha plays for UNC’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team, and she loves playing frisbee and hanging out with her teammates.
Beth Yates // New Voters Project Campaign Coordinator
Beth serves as a Campaign Coordinator for the New Voters Project. She is a senior studying psychology. Beth joined NCPIRG because she wanted to be a productive member of her community and encourage good citizenship. She is looking forward to helping her fellow students through their voting journey and creating a government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. Outside of NCPIRG, Beth loves to give back to the animal community by volunteering at the local animal shelter and with animal charities on campus. In the future, Beth hopes to have a career in psychological research.
Manny Rin // Organizing Director
Manny oversees NCPIRG’s organizing work on college campuses across North Carolina. Manny got his start organizing in 2009 as a student volunteer with CALPIRG and came on to full time staff after he graduated from University of California Davis. During his time with CALPIRG he recruited and trained hundreds of student activists on college campuses across the state, running projects that have registered thousands of students to vote and campaigns to protect California’s air, water and environment.
Leigh-Anne Cole // President, Board of Directors
Leigh-Anne is President of the Board of Directors for NCPIRG. She coordinated the Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project from 2008 to 2012, which registered more than 300,000 people to vote and made more than 1 million “get-out-the-vote” contacts. As Director of Recruitment for The Public Interest Network, she recruited thousands of candidates to apply to join our network, hundreds of whom have found jobs or careers here, while others have gone on to pursue other public interest positions. Leigh-Anne lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she loves to go hiking with her dog, Aspen, and her daughter, Rosie.
Dan Xie // Political Director
Dan directs the national political strategy and grant fundraising for the Student PIRGs. Dan has managed successful campaigns from coast to coast to cap global warming pollution, fight the high cost of higher education, and make voting more accessible for students. She has recruited and trained hundreds of students and staff on public interest campaigns. Dan lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she is an avid cyclist and climber.