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Community Organizing Has Always Looked Good!

A new class of WILD (Western Institute for Organizing and Leadership Development).

WILD group

An article in the Fashion and Style section of The New York Times in April was titled “Community Organizing Never Looked So Good." Here at Western States Center, we disagree: in fact it’s looked good for a long time.

This spring, The Center kicked off our WILD (Western Institute for Organizing and Leadership Development) Class of 2009-10 with 17 new recruits from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. The Center's first year-long leadership development class began in 1993, and since then more than 115 graduates have gone on to lives as community organizers across the country. Past graduates include Jen Ray, Chief Operating Officer at NARAL Pro-Choice America and Eric Ward, National Field Director of the Center for New Community.

I didn't realize how much I needed a weekend like this to feel united with a community of people doing social justice work.
- Jen Lleras.

The participants of this class currently work on many social and racial justice issues, including youth issues, immigration, rural, LGBTQ issues, and protection of the environment. This diverse class gathered for a four-day training outside of Portland to hone their skills on areas such as community organizing, facilitation, and popular education.

I was not expecting the diversity in experiences! Having the opportunity to work and learn from others' experiences across the spectrum of progressive movements was critical to see how our work is intimately surprised me to see how we all serve an equally critical role in the larger movement.
- EJ Juarez

EJ Juarez, who lives in Yakima, WA, and works for Central Washington Progress, is new to that job but has worked on political campaigns before.  At age 24, EJ is one of the youngest members of WILD. EJ's perspective - living and organizing in a rural community with few other social justice organizations - added depth to our conversations and reminded us how much can be done even with few resources.


During those four days participants also had opportunities to share stories, build relationships and network. They walked away feeling a sense of standing on common ground with one another.

The WILD class of 2009 - 2010 is:

Roberta Hunte, Oregon Tradeswomen Inc.
Jennifer Lleras, Oregon Student Association
Cristina Palacios, Community Alliance of Tenants
Mak Porotesano, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon
Frank Roa, Umatilla Morrow Alternatives
Abel “Gordo” Valladares, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste  (PCUN)
Jackie Yepes, Salem-Keizer Coalition for Equality

Dax Chizum, Idaho Human Rights Education Center
Finnegan Greer, Idaho Equality
Lisa Levings, Snake River Alliance
Maria Moreno, Mujeres Unidas de Idaho

Jennifer Brower, Nonprofit Assistance Center
EJ Juarez, Central Washington Progress
Susie Levy, CASA Latina

Jennifer Horvath, ACLU of Wyoming

Megan Myskewitz, Montana Women Vote

Tiffany McClain, ACLU of Alaska

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