Sam is a 2005 graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz with an independent major in regional development and social justice. For his senior project he conducted research on small, immigrant-run grocery stores operating in low-income neighborhoods in his hometown of San Francisco, and wrote a thesis based on his findings. He has worked as a tutor in local public high schools, as an educational counselor for foster children, and as a facilitator for the National Conference for Community and Justice. Prior to attending community college, Sam worked to organize communities around local environmental justice issues with Greenaction for Environmental Justice. He also volunteers to lead river rafting trips for youth groups, drug and alcohol rehabilitation groups, and others who would not normally have access to the sport of river rafting.
Field placement: Community Farm Alliance
Sam worked with Kentucky farmers and West Louisville community leaders to inject justice into the Kentucky food system. He facilitated a community food assessment in the low-income, African American community of West Louisville. He also developed a business plan for a cooperatively farmer owned local foods distribution center in West Louisville, designed to create wealth both for farmers and community members. For the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference he designed and led a 150 person bus tour showcasing the planned distribution center location and other CFA projects throughout the city of Louisville.
Policy placement: Center for Community Change
Sam worked for immigrant rights with the Center for Community Change. His projects included interviewing youth who are undocumented immigrants and creating a story bank of their challenges as they tried to attend college but were barred from most financial aid because of their legal status.