May 4th, 2017
There’s much happening around Oregon and the country right now. All ROP staff are currently in The Dalles supporting Gorge ICE Resistance, a growing local coalition of groups throughout the Columbia Gorge, that are supporting courageous hunger strikers inside of NORCOR, a county jail that is illegally detaining immigrants. We are angered by the news that the Affordable Care Act has been repealed and that there were victory celebrations in the White House rose garden. There’s much to grieve, and so much to fight for. Together we are fighting for inclusive justice and human dignity. It is the ROP network that gives us inspiration, hope, and energy to keep up the good fight for, as Martin Luther King Jr. says, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
It is in that spirit we would like to introduce this year’s ROP Board slate — an incredible crew of local human dignity group organizers from around the state who lead with compassion, thoughtfulness, and — very importantly — humor. At this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session on Saturday, June 3rd in Madras, OR, ROP member groups will elect a slate of ROP Board members to shape the direction of ROP’s work. Is your human dignity group registered to attend yet?
We are looking forward to seeing you in June!
Cara & Jessica
2017 ROP Board Slate
In odd number years, odd number seats are up for vote.
Region 1: Dancer Davis – Douglas County
Region 2: Joe Lewis – Columbia County
Region 3: Lorene Forman – Jefferson County
Region 4: Cathy Howell – Marion County
Region 5: Alex Budd – Josephine County
Region 6: Wix Covey – Baker County
Region 7: Position to be filled
Position 8: Hannah Sohl – Jackson County
Position 9: Bruce Morris – Bend, Deschutes County
Position 10: Position to be filled
Position 11: Josefina Riggs – Redmond, Deschutes County
Position 12: Position to be filled
Position 13: Position to be filled
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 Rural Organizing Against Racism (ROAR) of which Alex serves on the leadership team. ROAR’s bold organizing over the last 2 years months has included multiple racial justice trainings, 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.
Wix Covey – Baker County
Wix has a long history of work committed to peace and justice. When living in Wisconsin, he helped organize the Northwoods Peace Fellowship and was part of the Wisconsin Network of Peace and Justice (WNPJ), with both groups working on immigration issues, racial justice issues, protests against the War in Iraq and fighting against Governor Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. In 2010 he and his partner Alice moved back to Halfway, Oregon. Most recently, Wix brought together dozens of community members in his hometown to found the PanHandle Community Alliance (PCA), formed after the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. PCA promotes a vision of informed communities, democracy, fairness and communities free of violence and hate. Wix also shares his love of Tai Chi Chuan through classes offered to community members.
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 250 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. This year Dancer joined a contingent of rural Oregonians traveling to Standing Rock. 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.
Lorene Forman – Jefferson County
If you don’t catch Lorene at the Jefferson County Library, where she serves as the Youth Services Specialist, then you will likely find her with the youth from the Teen Book Club. Lorene has been leading the way in Jefferson County for years, founding, in 2012, the Teen Book Club that focuses on issues of immigrants, LGBTQ youth, youth of color, and social justice as observed through newly-published, starred-reviewed young adult books as well as classic literature. The Teen Book Club, however, does more than just read! Lorene and a team of youth from the book club attended the 2016 Caucus and Strategy Session in Bend, Oregon. In the months that followed, after meeting other human dignity leaders from around the state, the book club decided they wanted to start their own human dignity group in Jefferson County! This year, with Lorene’s support, they launched their new human dignity group with half the leadership team made up of youth. Lorene leads with humility and kindness coupled with a fierce sense of justice.
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 4,1970. 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 Coalition 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 roadtrips, 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 active with Central Oregon Jobs with Justice and the Social Justice Center in Bend, as well as working 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 USA 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. 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 group 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.