Board of directors
mitch wolgamott (chair, 2018 - 2020)
Mitch has been a member of ORA for several years and is a former ORA Board member and Board Chair. After a couple of year hiatus due to family health issues he is ready to serve ORA on the Board of Directors again. He experience includes about 30 years in environmental work. Most of that in State of Oregon government (Department of Environmental Quality). He served several years in management ending as acting Administrator of DEQ Eastern Region. He lives on a ten acre wood lot near Summerville, OR with his McNab Boarder Collie, Mollie.
william whitaker (vice chair, 2018 - 2020)
Bill began his life-long involvement in social justice work as a community organizer at South Side Settlement, an interracial progressive social agency in Columbus, Ohio. He went on to help organize the Ohio Steering Committee for Adequate Welfare and the Ohio Walk for Decent Welfare. Bill taught community organization and social welfare policy practice with an emphasis on rural communities for 30 years. While teaching, he organized the Wyoming Coalition for WIC, conducted a state-wide study of childhood hunger in Maine, organized the Maine Coalition for Food Security, chaired the State of Maine Blue Ribbon Commission on Childhood Hunger, helped organize the Idaho Interfaith Roundtable Against Hunger, and was president of the board of United Vision for Idaho. He is a past board member of the Rural Organizing Project. Bill is a past chair of the ORA board and served for a year as ORA's volunteer executive director. Bill chairs the ORA Finance, Fundraising and Membership Committee and writes many of ORA's grant applications. He is co-chair of the Personnel Committee. Bill is a satisfied participant in Medicare and Social Security. His passions include his family and grandchildren Fiona and Max, gardening, Oregon Rural Action local food and energy initiatives, hunger and food policy, climate change/global warming, politics and healthcare reform. Bill lives in La Grande with his wife Cheryl.
norm cimon (Treasurer, 2018 - 2020)
Norm was 2014 board chair for the Western Organization of Resource Councils and a founding member of Oregon Rural Action. He has worked in the private sector, for the EPA, and for the US Forest Service and is currently self-employed as a systems analyst. Norm is passionate about clean energy and a strong advocate for distributed generation of locally produced renewable power. His interests extend to the interior forests of North American, and to the water resources they host. He is a member of the local model watershed board, and a core member of Oregon Rural Action’s Energy Team which hosted the SolWest Renewable Energy and Sustainability Fair.
cori brewster (director at-large, 2017 - 2019)
Cori has been involved with ORA since 1999, as a member of the initial steering committee and as a founding member of the Snake River Chapter. She has served numerous terms on the Board of Directors: as Board Secretary; Vice Chair; and as a member of the personnel and convention committees, and on other committes. Her academic dissertation was grounded in community assessment work with ORA, seeking to better understand barriers to organizing across race and class lines in Malheur County, Oregon, in the mid-2000s. She serves on the ORA Board because of her deep investment in the success and long-term sustainability of the organization, and her strong belief in the community organizing model on which it is based.
devan noblit (director at-large, 2017 - 2019)
Devan was born and raised in a small rural community in Eastern Oregon. Growing up in a small farming and ranching community she became aware of agriculture policy, the implementation of unsustainable farming practices and the effect which it had on her local community and wanted to see a change. She became involved with Oregon Rural Action in the fall of 2013 as she prepared for her internship as the Alternative Energy intern. She worked on SolWest and communications during her time at ORA. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies. Her research has focused on the microbiological effects of pollutants in local water systems. She has presented her research on ‘Water Quality in the Upper Grande Ronde River’ and ‘Characterization of Coliform DNA’ at local and national symposiums. Devan spent time in her youth working as a wildlife conservationist. She is passionate about sustainable food production and energy systems, rhetoric of social movements, resource management, health care reform and community organizing. She is a member of ORA’s Communications Committee, Executive Committee, and Annual Meeting Planning Committee.
samuel garcia (director at-large, 2017 - 2019)
Sam finds it important to take part in the infrastructure of any community that his family resides in. He has worked with many organizations in rural and urban areas. He understands the need for rural areas to more directly influence state and local policies. While working as District Executive for Boy Scouts of America, he attended numerous networking events in the Portland area and volunteered with many state organizations. He is familiar with the disconnect that sometimes occurs between urban Oregon and rural Oregon. He believes that with his personal and professional skill sets, he can make a significant positive impact on Oregon Rural Action.
KristiN anderson Ostrom - EXECUTIVE Director
Kristin Anderson Ostrom became Executive Director of Oregon Rural Action in February 2019. She comes to ORA after more than two decades of rural organizing and public policy in the Midwest, primarily Nebraska. Ostrom was born in Illinois and grew up in Nebraska near the beginning of the historic Oregon Trail. She earned her JD at the Creighton University School of Law, and is a certified mediator under the Nebraska Supreme Court. During her career she has lobbied at the federal, state and local levels, led issue and electoral campaigns, developed diverse coalitions and earned media to advance policy and organizational change. She has worked for established national and state organizations such as the American Bar Association, ACLU Nebraska, Nebraska Justice Center and developed an award-winning community campaign, One Fremont One Future, that was led by a coalition of recent immigrants and citizens opposing anti-immigrant laws in Fremont, Nebraska.
mAX WILLIAM dENNING - cOMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Max Denning joins Oregon Rural Action as a Community Organizer with strong Oregon roots. Denning was born and raised in the diverse working class Northeast Portland neighborhood of Parkrose. A graduate of Ithaca College in upstate New York, Max studied politics and journalism, and wrote for the award-winning student newspaper The Ithacan. In 2016, Denning won the national Society of Professional Journalists award for his reporting on racially charged incidents at the college. Most recently, Denning worked as a news reporter for the The La Grande Observer, where he covered local and statewide issues, including a series on the urban-rural divide in Oregon.