Get Ready to Fill Out Your ROP Ballot!

Every year we introduce the current slate of those who have stepped forward to serve on the Board of Directors of theROP. The Board meets throughout the year on weekends, hosted by different human dignity groups each time who also feed and house us.  Our Board of Directors consists of human dignity group leaders from different areas around the state, whose participation is 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 next 2 years.

Below you will see the slate and then bios of the 2013 Board slate.  At the Rural Caucus & Strategy Session in Woodburn on June 8th, each human dignity group will be given a ballot to approve or disapprove and you can meet the leadership circle in person.

If you have questions or comments please feel welcome to email ROP Board Chair, Kathy Paterno at

2013 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: Yesenia Sanchez – St Helens
Region 3: Steve Milligan – Polk County

Region 4: Position to be filled

Region 5Frank Roa – Umatilla & Morrow Counties

Region 6: Kathy Paterno – Powell Butte & Central Oregon
Region 7: Patrick Vroman – Klamath County and SE Oregon

At-Large Seats
Position 8: Rosalie Pedroza – Marion County
Position 9: Keyla Almazan – Yamhill County
Position 10: Cathy Howell – Salem
Position 11Bill Whitaker – La Grande

Position 12: Arlene Amaya – Klamath County

Position 13: Bruce Morris – Deschutes County


Arlene Amaya- Klamath County

Arlene Amaya got involved with ROP at an Occupy Klamath Falls meeting in the fall of 2011.  She representedROP on a labor delegation to Occupy Washington DC, then joined the Latino Advisory Board and helped to planROP’s 2nd annual Rural Latino Leadership Retreat.  Her smarts and passion for social change shine through.  “I appreciate Klamath Falls because we tackle things that can be accomplished locally,” she says about small-town organizing. “To me it’s more realistic – we probably can’t overhaul the entire system at once, but we can make changes by being effective and strategic.”  She is currently pursuing a teaching degree and hopes to go back to rural El Salvador one day, where her parents came from, to give the opportunity of education to those who seek it.


Bill Whitaker- La Grande
Our very own Mad as Hell Doctor, of Social Work, Bill has been a champion of social justice for over 50 years. As a welfare rights organizer in Ohio to co-founding the Wyoming Coalition for WIC, the Maine Coalition For Food Security, and the Idaho Interfaith Coalition on Hunger, Bill’s belief in a better world has led him from the university classroom to the community where he inspires students and fellow organizers to put their passion into action. Bill currently represents Oregon Rural Action on the boards of Rural Organizing Project and Health Care for All Oregon. Bill resides with his wife Cheryl in La Grande, Oregon, where they co-chair the ORA Health Care Reform Action Team.


Bruce Morris – Deschutes County
Bruce is a former corporate lawyer who gave up a lucrative career to better 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.  He brings a unique perspective and considerable skills in legal, legislative, and public policy areas.   He is very passionate about making government accountable to regular people as opposed to well-funded special interests. He has also become a skilled anti-oppression trainer and leader across issues for social justice in Central Oregon.  In 2013, after participating in the March for ONE Oregon Bus Tour, Bruce is one of the key leaders coordinating a community response to the church arson that occurred only hours after a pro-immigrant rights event.  He continues to volunteer with Human Dignity Coalition in Deschutes County.  He is one of many leaders that through their involvement withROP have gone on to become statewide leaders.


Cathy Howell – Salem

Cathy Howell just retired from the AFL-CIO where she has been 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 and visiting El Salvador, where she is a volunteer at the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad.  She is teaching English and helping to organize delegations of international observers for the February 2014 Presidential Election in El Salvador.


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 over 77 consecutive weeks. Seven years ago, Dancer joined ROP for our famous Walk for Truth, Justice, and Dignity, and hit the road again last March 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.)


Frank Roa – Morrow & Umatilla Counties
Frank decided to return to his rural roots and family in the small Eastern Oregon town of Irrigon (population 1,702) as he faced disability at a young age. It was a good time to go home. As an HIV-positive Latino, gay male in poor and rural America, he knew that if he wanted services, he was going to have to set them up. This became the start of Umatilla Morrow Alternatives – a vision turned organization that was soon featured in the front page of the area’s largest paper.


Kathy Paterno – Powell Butte
Kathy has lived in Powell Butte, Crook County for the last three decades with her husband of 42 years, Phil. They work together for justice and peace in Central Oregon and are among the founding leadership for the Human Dignity Advocates, Crook County’s revitalized human dignity group. Kathy’s political awakening happened after 9/11 when, “GW asked us to cheer up and go shopping, and then went on to manipulate our nation’s sorrow into a cause for war. He turned me into an activist – a raging granny!” Kathy was a member of the Central Oregon Seven, arrested for refusing to leave Congressman Greg Walden’s office until he listened to the testimony of his constituents following the People’s Co$t of War Townhall.  She has continued to bring her activism to many other local and statewide issues including Occupy Congressional District 2 and the March for One Oregon Bus Tour for immigration reform.


Keyla Almazan – Yamhill County

Keyla, originally from Mexico, moved with her family to The Dalles 16 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 the ROP in 2009 through Newberg Human Dignity, where her warmth, her passion for organizing and her skill at developing camaraderie with a wide variety of people was clear right away.  She was a volunteer co-facilitator of ROP’s 1st Rural Latino Leadership Summit in February 2011 and now serves on the ROP Latino Advisory Board (LAB).  The ROP Board is lucky to welcome this gem of an activist – who served as ROP staff for 1 ½ years.  A desire to go back to school meant she could no longer do organizing day to day as a staff person, but her commitment to continue to pursue justice in rural Oregon as a dedicated volunteer with the ROP Board and LAB.


Patrick Vroman- Klamath Falls

The ROP first met Patrick when he was just getting his activist feet wet with the Klamath Basin Peace Forum, challenging the war in Iraq. Since then Patrick has made a name for himself in his home county by helping to launch the Klamath Basin Lambdas, and always seeking opportunities to build relationships across the community to strengthen their local organizing for justice.


Rosalie Pedroza- Turner
When you meet Rosalie, odds are that she’ll be proudly wearing the purple and yellow of her union, SEIU 503, where she formerly served on the board and is now retired. Along with working part time for the US Census in Marion County, she serves on the board of Health Care for All-Oregon and is working to get single payer health care in Oregon.  Rosalie brings her passion for democracy into the public through her strong support for economic & immigration fairness and global justice, which has led her from rural home in Turner to Venezuela and Columbia as a fair-trade delegate and Chiapas Mexico where she learned the plight of the indigenous Zapatistas fighting to maintain their lands. In her own words, Rosalie has “found ways to reach out to her neighbors as never before, and organize around issues, not just parties, so we can begin to open people’s eyes to the extremes we are facing.”


Steve Milligan- Monmouth
Steve came to Oregon nearly 22 years ago by way of Texas and California seeking opportunities all along the way to organize for democracy and justice.  Steve currently makes his home in the city of Monmouth, where he has served as a City Councilor since 2003. Steve has worked in database management and in the printing industry, owned a natural food store, and manufactured herbal remedies. Steve is now going back to school to get accounting and tax preparer certificates.  He is dedicated to finding common ground among diverse community members, and looking for opportunities to build a stronger local economy. He is active with ROP human dignity group Polk Café Commons. Steve has also served on the ROP board for the past 6 years, currently as treasurer.


Yesenia Sanchez- Columbia County
Yesenia has two loves of her life: music and social justice. She is the co-founder of the Latino Advisory Board atROP, former president of Latinos Unidos para Un Futuro Mejor in Columbia County (LUFM), Pastoral Council member and currently working for a non-profit agency assisting low-income households. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and first became involved with ROP when measure 5-190 passed in Columbia County in 2009. After helping organize the Procession for Dignity and Respect she fell in love with grassroots organizing and decided that working with Latino communities was her passion. Because of her background in Ethnic Studies and student organizing with MEChA, she believes in collective liberation, as all struggles are interconnected, and deeply believes in Assata Shakur’s words:  “It is our duty to fight, it is our duty to win. We must love each other and respect each other. We’ve got nothing to lose but our chains”