The Rural Organizing Project (ROP) has a dream team of paid staff to support the network of over 70 human dignity groups across the state, including building and supportings statewide campaigns and collective action as directed by local groups.
Cara Shufelt, Co-Director
Cara has an infectious passion for organizing. Since Cara’s early years in her home state of Michigan, she has been drawing people together to make the world a better place. As a student at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon, she organized over 10% of the student body to attend the direct action of the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999 where she saw the power of solidarity and democratic decision making first hand. Cara joined the Rural Organizing Project in 2002 as an organizer and immediately fell in love with a life criss-crossing Oregon meeting with folks in living rooms across the state, having conversations on how we build power and make change in our communities across rural Oregon. In 2008, Cara took a brief leave from ROP that provided her the opportunity to work closely with student organizers and study other models of movement building. Cara returned to ROP and now serves as Co-Director while continuing to be an active part of the organizing team. Send Cara an email at email@example.com.
Jess Campbell, Co-Director
Jess has over 15 years of rural organizing experience and has been involved with the Rural Organizing Project since 2005. Jess was raised in the rural West by a working class family with a strong sense of fairness. Jess came into organizing without realizing it, rallying with her peers to successfully take on corporate advertising in their high school, which led to ongoing student campaigns on immigrant rights and interrupting the poverty draft. Before joining ROP staff, Jess helped start up several community gardens at Cottage Grove-area elementary schools during the height of the 2008-9 recession, helped organize a unified community response to the tragic firebombing of a Corvallis mosque, and founded and coordinated an art exchange between students in Oregon and Gaza. While on staff at ROP, Jess has worked with some of the most rural communities in Oregon to fight for the commons from post offices to libraries, to organize and counterorganize in frontline communities reeling from vigilante and state violence and white nationalist organizing, and to advance experimental campaigns at the intersections of racial, economic, gender, and climate justice. While Jess is truly an organizer at heart, mobilizations of paramilitaries in 2014 led her to produce research and analysis on Oregon’s far right organizing, a role she continues to play today. Jess is a co-author of Up in Arms: A Guide to Oregon’s Patriot Movement. Send Jess an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace Warner, Organizer
Grace lives in Josephine County and joined Rural Organizing Project in 2016. After graduating from the University of Oregon in 2011 with a journalism degree, she dedicated her time to organizing in defense of threatened forests, watersheds, and communities downstream. From 2013-2015 she worked with Coast Range Forest Watch, a volunteer-run community organization in Coos Bay, to build community support for public lands. In 2015 she co-founded a climate justice organization called Southern Oregon Rising Tide and joined a statewide coalition in opposing a proposed 232-mile fracked gas pipeline that would cut across over 400 waterways in rural Southern Oregon. In fall of 2015 she coordinated media for Hike the Pipe, a month-long walk on the proposed pipeline route. In culmination of Hike the Pipe, she worked with local community groups and statewide organizations to rally hundreds of people against the pipeline in Coos County. Grace grew up in Central California, spending summer vacations hiking and camping in Western Oregon and the Sierra Nevadas. Grace is thrilled to take all of the long highways and backroads while fighting for justice in rural Oregon! Send Grace an email at email@example.com.
Hannah Harrod, Organizer
Hannah joined Rural Organizing Project in 2016 to help send a contingent of rural Oregonians to Standing Rock. Working with ROP felt like a homecoming, and she joined the team as an organizer in 2017. Born and raised (mostly) in Douglas County, Hannah’s commitment to rural organizing comes from her deep knowledge of the incredible resilience and courage of rural communities. Hannah has worked for the last decade as an organizer and educator around economic, racial, and environmental justice and LGBTQ+ issues. She first began organizing around foreclosure defense and housing security in her neighborhood. She was moved by watching her neighbors reclaim foreclosed homes and take care of each other in such a tangible and courageous way, and it secured her commitment to offering her time and energy toward building communities that support the well-being of everyone in them. She is passionate about supporting group process, and brings her skills as a facilitator to the work that she does. She currently lives in Benton County and when she isn’t organizing, she can usually be found instigating dance parties or at the ceramic studio elbow-deep in clay. Send Hannah an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathy Howell, Coordinator, Fellowship Program
Cathy joined the ROP staff this year to take on the responsibility to develop the first year of ROP’s organizer fellowship program. Cathy served on the board of ROP for several years and has also been volunteering at the Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad in El Salvador teaching English, studying Spanish, and helping coordinate international delegations to observe the Salvadoran election process. She worked at the AFL-CIO as a field organizer in the southern region and leadership development coordinator in the national office for over a decade, and before that spent twenty years in social justice work as a community and issue organizer in Oregon and in the southern US. 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, and is excited about ROP’s new fellowship to bring more people into organizing work and help them gain the skills to become effective organizers. When she is not working, Cathy loves going to outdoor events and concerts in Marion and Polk counties in the summer, shopping at farmer’s markets, traveling just about anywhere, watching independent films and British detective shows, and listening to books at the gym. Send Cathy an email at email@example.com.
Emma Ronai-Durning, Intern
Emma is interning with Rural Organizing Project for a series of projects, including documenting support systems and rapid response networks being created to support undocumented Oregonians so that local organizers can reflect on best practices and make connections with their peers across the state. Born and raised in Salem, Emma is currently a senior at Middlebury College in Vermont. She started organizing as a first year, focusing mostly on climate justice issues through a campus-based fossil fuel divestment campaign, fighting the Vermont Fracked Gas Pipeline, and pushing world leaders to take more radical action at the Paris Climate Talks. Later her focus shifted and she participated in performance activism against campus rape culture, cofounded “Wonder Bread: White Students for Racial Justice” with some of her classmates, and helped shut down a lecture by white nationalist Charles Murray. Planning to move back West after college, Emma is excited for a chance to start digging in to rural Oregon and supporting the incredible people working across the state she calls home. Send Emma an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VOLUNTEERS also serve critical roles in making the work of the ROP happen. Nearly all of ROP’s member groups are volunteer managed and led, meaning ROP works with hundreds volunteers to make the work happen at the local level. Around the state office, the staff is strongly supported by dedicated volunteers that provide computer support, data entry, event coordination and maintenance of our office-home. ROP works with dozens of volunteers who give between two to twenty hours a month. If you’re interested in helping keep ROP’s work rolling along, email email@example.com with what kind of skills and interests you have. We’d love to have you join our team!