WORC is a regional network of grassroots community organizations that include 10,000 members and 35 local chapters. WORC helps its member groups succeed by providing training and coordinating issue work.
Our community organizations are:
- Dakota Resource Council (North Dakota)
- Dakota Rural Action (South Dakota)
- Idaho Organization of Resource Councils
- Northern Plains Resource Council (Montana)
- Oregon Rural Action
- Powder River Basin Resource Council (Wyoming)
- Western Colorado Congress
- Western Native Voice (Montana)
WORC’s mission is to advance the vision of a democratic, sustainable, and just society through community action. WORC is committed to building sustainable environmental and economic communities that balance economic growth with the health of people and stewardship of their land, water, and air resources.
A 16-member Board of Directors governs WORC. Each member group elects two representatives to the WORC board of directors. The long-range plans and annual operating plans of the member organizations determine the overall direction of WORC. The board sets WORC's policies, directs its operations, develops its agenda and programs, and hires staff to implement its decisions. Board members are also leaders in their member organizations. The board meets twice a year.
Beginning in the 1970's, we focused on coalmine reclamation and natural resource tax policy. We won model reclamation and coal leasing laws and progressive tax structures.
In the early 1980’s, we challenged national energy policies and helped table the synthetic fuels corporation. In the mid-1980’s, we confronted the farm lending practices of the banks and federal government. We won credit reforms at the state and national levels.
In the 1990’s, WORC tackled concentration of economic power in a few agribusiness corporations, especially in meatpacking and grain trading. We also addressed hard rock mining reform, sprawl, electric industry deregulation, and factory farms.
In the new century, we launched programs for safe food, responsible coalbed methane development, and a sound energy policy.
Based in Billings, Montana, WORC has field offices in Montrose, Colorado, and Washington, DC. You can contact the staff during business hours, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
WORC announces transition of Executive Director Patrick Sweeney
WORC announced July 8 that Patrick Sweeney will transition from his position as the organization’s Executive Director on January 1, 2015 and phase out his employment at WORC over three years.
Sweeney will serve as a part-time senior advisor and focus on special projects, WORC’s civic engagement and voter participation programs and consulting on fundraising with the new executive director, the directors of the seven member organizations, and WORC’s development staff.
At its June Board meeting, WORC’s Board of Directors adopted a leadership transition plan that names John Smillie as the new Executive Director effective January 1, 2015. Smillie currently serves as WORC’s Campaign Director. A graduate of Stanford University, Smillie was an organizer and research coordinator for the Northern Plains from 1979 to 1986 and has been with WORC since 1986.
The Board promoted Kevin Williams to be Director of Organizing and Campaigns, also effective January 1, 2015. Williams earned a Master of Science Degree in Forest Resources from the University of Idaho. Williams joined the WORC staff in 1995 and is currently WORC’s Organizing Director. From 1984 to 1994, he served on the staff of the Western Colorado Congress, the last eight years as Staff Director. Western Colorado Congress, also one of WORC’s member groups, is an alliance for community action empowering people to protect and enhance their quality of life.
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