Drum roll please… the 2015 ROP Board Slate!‏

May 19th, 2015

Dear ROPnetters:

Every year we introduce the current slate of those who have stepped forward to serve on the Board of Directors of the ROP. The Board meets throughout the year on weekends, hosted by different human dignity groups who also feed and house us. Our Board of Directors is made up of human dignity group leaders from different areas around the state, critical to an organization run by and for rural Oregonians. Some are new to organizing, others are veterans, and all make a commitment to shape and oversee ROP’s work for the years to come.

Below you will see the slate and biographies of the 2015 Board Slate. At the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session in Woodburn on June 13th each human dignity group will be given a ballot to vote on the Board Slate and many opportunities to meet and think alongside the leadership team in person!

If you have questions or comments please feel welcome to email ROP Board Co-Chairs, Bruce Morris at brucem.bam@gmail.com or Keyla Almazan, sulem4@gmail.com.

Warmly, Cara

2015 Rural Organizing Project Board Slate
In odd number years, odd number seats are up for vote.

Regional Seats

Region 1: Dancer Davis – Douglas County
Region 2: Joe Lewis – Columbia County
Region 3: Darcy Bedortha – Crook County
Region 4: Position to be filled
Region 5: Keyla Almazan – Yamhill County
Region 6: Position to be filled
Region 7: Alex Budd – Josephine County

At-Large Seats

Position 8: Cathy Howell – Salem
Position 9: Hannah Sohl – Jackson County
Position 10: Cristina Hubbard – Lane County
Position 11: Bruce Morris – Bend, Deschutes County
Position 12: Position to be filled
Position 13: Josefina Riggs – Redmond, Deschutes County

Keyla Almazan – Yamhill County
Keyla, born in Mexico, moved with her family to rural Oregon almost 20 years ago, and currently lives in Newberg. Her organizing savvy comes from a long history of organizing, from working with MEChA since high school, to volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, to being a volunteer leader on a project to build a community garden and bridge the gap between Latinos and Anglos in Yamhill County. Keyla first got involved with ROP in 2009 through Newberg Human Dignity where her warmth, passion for organizing, and skill at developing camaraderie with a wide variety of people was clear right away. She was a volunteer co-facilitator of ROP’s first Rural Latino Leadership Summit in February 2011. Keyla was an ROP staff organizer for 1 ½ years until she went back to school at Linfield University to major in communications and is graduating this year. Keyla’s commitment to justice in rural Oregon has led her to Unidos’ executive team. Unidos builds bridges between immigrant and non-immigrant communities and advocates for justice and immigration fairness.

Darcy Bedortha – Crook County
Darcy describes herself as an advocate for the empowerment of young people (all people, really), for meaningful education, social justice and sustainability. She is grateful for having a multitude of experiences and opportunities and is committed to bringing what she has learned back to her community, which sometimes is national, or even global, but always is rooted with her family in Crook County. She is active with many like-minded organizations including Human Dignity Advocates of Crook County, Central Oregon Social Justice Center and Central Oregon Strong Voice and is a community organizer for the Institute for Democratic Education in America. It is not uncommon to find Darcy with several younger folks new to organizing at all kinds of gatherings around Central Oregon.

Alex Budd – Josephine County
Alex first came to Oregon several years ago from Colorado where he grew up playing in the Rocky Mountains and first discovered his passion for organizing to protect the natural world. Alex first met ROP through the Precious Dirt and the Freedom from Pesticides Alliance’s local ordinance campaign. After a living room conversation that asked, “What do you need to still be living in this community 20 years from now?” Alex helped form the Josephine County Racial Justice Working Group of which Alex serves on the leadership team. Josephine County Racial Justice Working Group’s bold organizing over the last 18 months has included multiple racial justice training’s, study groups, movie nights, community strategy sessions, and actions for Black Lives Matter. Alex brings to the ROP Board a deep passion for building a movement for justice at the intersections of issues and boundless energy for innovative organizing.

Dancer Davis – Douglas County
Dancer’s years of hard work in Douglas County advocating for the poor and unhoused prior to the Occupy movement has paved the way for Occupy Roseburg to hold so much space in their community, including an ongoing Feed the ‘Burg potluck that serves between 60 and 125 hungry folks every week for almost 200 consecutive weeks. In 2005, Dancer joined ROP for our famous Walk for Truth, Justice, and Dignity, and hit the road again in 2013 with the March for ONE Oregon Bus Tour through central and eastern Oregon for just immigration reform. Growing up in Oklahoma, Dancer has always lived rural, poor and queer. Early on she connected the dots between class, race and gender. Dancer brings this dynamic clarity and commitment to her role on the ROP Board (and her job as grandma).

Cathy Howell – Marion County
Cathy Howell retired from the AFL-CIO in 2011 where she was a field organizer and leadership development coordinator since 1997. Before joining the AFL-CIO, she spent over 20 years as a community and issue organizer in Oregon and in the southern USA. She grew up in a small Quaker State Refinery town in western Pennsylvania, and now lives in Salem in Marion County. She is passionate about social and economic justice and organizing people to fight for fairness. Cathy is looking forward to spending time post-retirement building and strengthening the human dignity organizing in Marion County. She divides her time between Salem and El Salvador, where she is a volunteer at the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad. She teaches English to Salvadorans working in social movements and helped organize delegations of international observers for the February 2014 Presidential Election and the 2015 Congressional and Mayoral elections in El Salvador. She is studying Spanish in an effort to strengthen her ability to work more effectively in Marion County and El Salvador.

Cristina Hubbard – Lane County
Cristina was one of the founding members of Forest Web of Cottage Grove, a grassroots environmental group working on preserving old-growth forests in Oregon. She has continued as the Executive Director of Forest Web since 2007, networking with other environmental groups to protect both state and federal forestland from clear-cut logging, as well as championing wolf recovery and critical habitat for other endangered animals. With Community Rights of Lane County, she is working on an initiative to ban aerial herbicide spraying in Lane County. Cristina has led several local campaigns and projects, including helping to coordinate an emergency response to an ice storm that left many in the county without power for over a week, and as a community organizer for Friends of Main Street, a watchdog group working to ensure local elected officials genuinely engage with, and are accountable to, Cottage Grove residents, even those who live outside of city limits. In her free time, Cristina participates in a local writers’ group and tries to find precious moments to work on her own writing. Her latest adventure involves a wolf field study program in Yellowstone.

Joe Lewis – Columbia County
Joe’s politicization happened suddenly when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State on May 4th, 1970. Joe was shot that day. He returns each year to the Kent State commemoration and gives talks about that day to local civic clubs and schools. Serving 15 years on the Scappoose School Board, 33 years at the City of Scappoose public works department and helping raise 7 children, Joe has always been committed to engaging his community in justice and opportunity. Joe is one of the many members of Columbia County Citizens for Human Dignity (CCCHD) that is touched, shaped and inspired by ROP Founder Marcy Westerling and helps carry on a vision of human dignity organizing through CCCHD and as a regular volunteer at the ROP office. Sometimes you might even catch him in the car with a ROP staff person, joining road trips, meeting his peers and counterparts in other counties around the state.

Bruce Morris – Deschutes County

Bruce has been involved with ROP since 2002, shortly after giving up a lucrative career as a corporate lawyer to live his values. He has lived at various income levels working at jobs ranging from delivering food to food pantries, Director of the Human Dignity Coalition in Bend, and a paralegal at a law firm representing injured and disabled people and workers. Bruce is a bold leader and trainer across issues for social justice in Central Oregon. In 2013, after participating in the March for ONE Oregon Bus Tour, Bruce was one of the key leaders who coordinated a community response to the church arson that occurred only hours after a pro-immigrant rights event. He is currently coordinator for Central Oregon Jobs with Justice and the Social Justice Center in Bend, as well as working part time for Central Oregon Community radio station, KPOV.

Josefina Riggs – Redmond, Deschutes County
Born in Caracas, Venezuela, Josefina and her son Zydlei moved to the US in 1998. Josefina met ROP through the March for ONE Oregon in March of 2013, which she recalls as her first experience in the US in an organization fighting for the benefit of the entire community. Over the last several years, Josefina has been involved with Causa Central Oregon, Recursos, and other local community and social justice groups. She has been involved in the fight for immigration reform, to end wage theft, and other programs and activities that benefit the wider community. Through Josefina, ROP will be lucky enough to have a Causa Board Member also serve as a ROP Board Member. Josefina brings heart, commitment and inspiration to all of her justice work.

Hannah Sohl – Jackson County
Hannah Sohl grew up in Jackson County where she became concerned about the impacts that climate change were having on the people, the economy, and the ecosystems of Southern Oregon, and around the world. Hannah started organizing with others in southern Oregon, co-founding Rogue Climate, a youth-led community organization based in Jackson County in 2013. ROP first met Hannah at the Caucus in Woodburn that same year! From leading living room conversations to massive collaborative art projects at the Capitol, Hannah has led Rogue Climate to become a recognized and respected group leading and inspiring the movement for climate justice in Southern Oregon and across the state. In the ROP community, Hannah has found mentorship and fellow change makers. She loves the way that ROP supports and believes in people across the state.

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