Welcome to the team Meredith, Monica, and Sasha!

As thousands of rural community leaders are taking action right now to keep their communities as safe as possible during the pandemic, we are thrilled to share that ROP is expanding our staff team of brilliant, experienced, dedicated, passionate people focused on building the rural movement for human dignity and justice! Many of you have already worked with our newest staffers, hearing their voices on Coronavirus Rural Strategy Sessions, on our monthly podcast Rural Roots Rising, and on phone calls to human dignity group leaders across Oregon. Read on to learn more about them and their work, and, if you feel so inspired, drop them an email welcoming them to the ROP family!

Sasha Blankenship, Organizer
Sasha joined the Rural Organizing Project staff full-time in January 2020. Prior to working with ROP, she was an organizer for five years in her home state of Kentucky. In her previous position, she worked with communities to build local infrastructure in response to racialized violence, advocated for a clear and fair budgeting system, worked to improve the rights of and protections for LGBTQIA+ communities, and responded to other needs as they arose in the communities she worked with. Send Sasha an email at sasha@rop.org.

“After several years of admiring ROP’s work from afar it feels amazing to be a part of the important organizing being done in rural Oregon,” says Sasha. “The leaders in human dignity groups that I’ve already started getting to know have been some of the most passionate, dedicated, skilled and kind people I’ve ever met, and I count myself fortunate to work alongside them!”

Monica Beemer, Development Director
Monica (she/her) joined ROP in February as the Development Director to lead fundraising initiatives to sustain our organizing across Oregon for the long haul. Monica is from both urban (Portland) and rural (Newport) Oregon, where Monica grew up and stays connected to her family and community. For the past 10 years, she has worked to fight the criminalization of poverty and homelessness, serving on the board and then as the Development Director for the Western Regional Advocacy Project. She also served as the Executive Director of Sisters of the Road in Portland for 12 years and was Station Co-Manager at KBOO Community Radio. Send Monica an email at monica@rop.org.

“I’ve been so grateful to be involved in social movements working on radical — going to the root — positive social change for the past 15 years,” says Monica. “I cannot imagine a better place to do this than working with all the fantastic groups and people who are a part of the Rural Organizing Project!”

Meredith Martin Moats, Culture and Media Organizer
Meredith is a folklorist, oral historian, and caregiver living in her home state of Arkansas. She is dedicated to working with individual people and organizations to bring people together across vast differences to build more loving communities. She works with the McElroy House: Organization for Cultural Resources in central Arkansas, is the director of an adult literacy advocacy organization, and runs a tiny farm and flower business with her family. Meredith has been working with ROP since November 2019 wearing many hats, from working on the production of Rural Roots Rising and the incubation of the Rural Media Center, developing plans for our 30+ years of county-by-county community organizing archives, and jumping in to build and lead strategy sessions on feeding our communities during a pandemic. Send Meredith an email at meredith@rop.org.

“I love how ROP brings diverse groups of people together from so many different rural areas. I believe deeply that rural and small town areas have resources and skills that are essential for work that both honors and challenges our ancestors and weaves together a loving future for our children. I am so excited to be learning from everyone here!”