Oregon Rural Action members share leadership by taking turns in positions of responsibility. One of the most visible of these is the board of directors, the members of which assume legal and financial responsibility for the organization and assist with policy, budgeting, planning, and fundraising, among other tasks vital to the organization.
If you would be interested in joining the board, please read the board criteria document and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Board Members
Cori Brewster (Chair, 2015-2017)
Read Cori's bio...
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.
Anna Maria Dill (Vice Chair, 2015-2017)
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Anna Maria has lived and worked in rural communities of the western United States since 1980. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she and her husband, Dwight, moved to La Grande in 1987 where they raised their two sons, and where Anna Maria spent 28 years serving as the Learning Center Director for Eastern Oregon University. Her interest in ensuring access to quality public education and providing universal health care for all Oregonians are two of the driving forces that drew Anna Maria to Oregon Rural Action. Fostering social justice and economic sustainability for the communities of rural Oregon are values that she shares with the organization.
Devan Noblit (Secretary, 2015-2017)
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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.
Norm Cimon (Treasurer, 2016-2018)
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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.
Juanita Lassiter (Director At-Large, 2016-2018)
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Juanita was born in Texas and is the oldest of 14 children. She has been married 40 years to an Ontario, Oregon native and has 4 children. Her dad was a farmer and she has enjoyed gardening her entire life. Juanita has extensive volunteer experience. For example, she is a court appointed children’s advocate, board member of the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce, and an active volunteer for Help Them to Hope, local food pantries, Toys for Tots, Make a Wish Foundation, and Children’s Miracle Network. She is part of the Snake River Chapter Representation.
Bill Whitaker ( Director at Large, 2016-2018)
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Bill began his life-long involvement in community efforts 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 board member of the Rural Organizing Project and within ORA serves as its chair as well as sitting on its Personnel and Executive Committees. 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, and healthcare reform. Bill lives in La Grande with his wife Cheryl.
Clyde Clark (Blue Mountain Chapter Representative, 2016-2017)
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Clyde was born and raised in Wallowa County. He served in the Navy and has resided in La Grande for over a decade. Having deep roots in Northeast Oregon, he gained a great respect for the land and people around him. He cares about social and environmental justice and believes that people are able to use lands but they need to remain intact for use of future generations. Clyde has been involved in multiple food and toy drives in the past, has served as secretary of the Union County LGBTQ+ Community Group (and formerly PFLAG) and has been involved in ORA for years.
Bridget Thamert (Director At-Large, 2016-2018)
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Bridget and her family moved to La Grande, Oregon in 2004 from Massachusetts. She received an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts form Bristol Community College, Fall River, MA in 2000.
Bridget has always had a passion for helping others. She became a member of ORA in 2008, while advocating for an alliance between EOU’s Headstart program and the Community Garden in La Grande, so that children could be introduced and educated about nature and the environment; and their families could supplement their food stamp benefits during the summer months with fresh produce that they helped to cultivate and grow.
In 2014, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology/Sociology with a concentration in sociological research. At present she works, for Union County as a resource coordinator/family advocate – assisting families to navigate the system of community resources, agencies, and organizations.
Bridget cares deeply about rural poverty and hunger and the unique obstacles that exist in a rural community as opposed to an urban community when attempting to access services. She is interested in the connection between social and environmental justice issues, immigration reform, and the dismantling of the global racist agenda. As a member of the ORA board and chair of the executive committee of the Blue Mountain Chapter of ORA, she hopes to spread awareness about these issues and help to empower others to action.
Ann Bushakra (BMC Board Representative, 2016-2017)
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Ann was raised in the Central Valley in California. Her first memory of community service is going door-to-door collecting for the March of Dimes with her mother. Ann has always believed in giving back to her community and throughout the years has volunteered in programs such as literacy, bringing the arts to low income areas, facilitating communication classes, and teaching music. She has worked on many political campaigns and environmental issues, and worked with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, as well as working
professionally in the commercial printing and healthcare industries. Ann retired and moved to La Grande in 2014 and joined ORA shortly after. Currently she serves on ORA’s Social Justice Team and coordinates the Grow a Row Campaign for the La Grande Community Garden in addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the Blue Mountain Chapter and representing the chapter on the ORA board.
Byron Shock (SRC Board Representative, 2016-2018)
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The newest member of the ORA board of directors, Byron Shock serves on the Executive Committee of the Snake River Chapter in Malheur County, where he is working with fellow members to grow the chapter and strengthen member capacity to engage local issues. Byron has contributed key technical analysis to successful public policy campaigns in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed food safety rules for fresh produce, which would effectively have barred the use of existing surface water sources to grow onions, the
principal cash crop in Malheur County. In response to the campaigns, FDA adopted altered rules that protect both food safety and Malheur County’s rural economy. Byron holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University.