Deb Love, Executive Director

Deb Love began organizing in the fifth grade, where she wrangled a team of students into designing and building a nature trail behind their elementary school. Her love for people and place sustained her 23-year career at The Trust for Public Land. Deb spent the last six years at Resources Legacy Fund, supporting rural and tribal communities as RLF’s Intermountain West Director. Deb is excited to bring her passion for connecting and supporting communities and leaders to the growing WORC network. Deb has a B.S. in Organizational Management from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and an M.S. in Resource Management from Antioch University. Deb most recently received a certificate in Leadership Coaching from Harvard University and remains, faithfully, a lifelong learner.

Sara Kendall, Program Director


Sara is a graduate of Middlebury College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies. As Program Director, Sara coordinates WORC’s regional issue campaigns, as well as our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work. She has represented WORC in Washington, D.C., since 1994, monitoring Washington policy decisions that affect WORC’s members, activating our organizations and leaders, and leading issue campaigns. Sara has written and edited many WORC publications, including Uncertain Fortune, Law and Order in the Oil and Gas Fields, and Model Oil and Gas Laws, Regulations and Ordinances.

Kerri Nelson Wolenetz, Finance Director


Kerri joined the WORC staff in May 2002 as a college research intern on food safety and GM crop issues. She stayed on staff after graduation in 2003, to become WORC’s Development Director and coordinate joint fundraising for the WORC network. Today, Kerri provides administrative, HR, bookkeeping and financial management support to WORC and its fiscal projects and administers the grantmaking programs of WORC Education Project and its fiscal projects. Kerri is a graduate of Rocky Mountain College with a B.A. in English and Writing and of Montana State University with a B.S. in Accounting

Briana Kerstein Bergeron, Program Director


Briana joined the WORC staff in her current position in February 2020. Until 2016, she was the Campaign Director for the Western Coalfield Alliance, a coalition which included WORC, Northern Plains, Powder River Basin Resource Council, and other regional and national partners. Prior to returning to her hometown of Billings, Montana, Briana spent 7 years in New Orleans working with the Gulf Restoration Network. Briana assists with grant writing, compiling grant reports, and general external fundraising support. She is a graduate of Colorado College with a B.A. in Womens’ Studies.  

Leah Berry, Political Director


Leah Berry joined the WORC team in January 2020 leading the Grassroots Democracy Program and working closely with rural and Native voter projects across the region. She was born and raised in rural Central Montana and has a Bachelors of Arts in History and Political Science from Montana State University Billings. She began her start in political organizing with the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and joined the WORC network in 2016 when she was the Canvass Director for Northern Plains Resource Council and Montana Rural Voters. Most recently Leah worked to build power in Indigenous communities as Field Director and Development Director with Western Native Voice. Leah also serves on Forward Montana’s Board of Directors and is chair of the Forward Montana Voter Fund. 

Sydney Ausen, Leadership and Capacity Director

Sydney joined the WORC team in 2023. She grew up in Billings, Montana, and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in political science. Before coming to WORC, Sydney spent seven years at Northern Plains Resource Council first as a community organizer and later as Co-Director of Organizing and Campaigns. Sydney is passionate about supporting everyday people to step into their power and make change happen in their communities. Her favorite part about her job is training, coaching, and mentoring community organizers to do just that! 

Sandy Burch, Political Campaign Coordinator

Sandy Burch is a Montana tomboy who loves farming, hip hop, and talking to strangers about politics. She set out with a B.S. in Geography from the University of Montana to learn about the real world, and spent ten years as a hired hand growing vegetables, tending livestock, and moving irrigation pipe. Her passion for democracy and equality, as well as her confidence in the goodness of ordinary people, led her to work several seasons as Canvass Director for Northern Plains Resource Council and Montana Rural Voters Action Fund. Sandy is excited to help WORC’s member organizations win at the ballot box.

Maggie Hansbury, Development Coordinator

As a proud sixth-generation Montanan, growing up just one generation off a ranch in Montana’s Golden Triangle region, Maggie wears her rural roots on her sleeve. Maggie graduated from the University of Montana in 2017, majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing, with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. As the Development Coordinator for WORC, Maggie leverages her background in non-profit fundraising, grant work, endowment building, and donor stewardship, including her expertise in rural community foundation growth. Her mission is to support the true potential of rural communities. Maggie also holds a passion for professional cycling, with a specialty in century rides (100+ miles.) She’s participated in several Montana-based non-profit rides such as RATPOD, TOSRV West, and STOKR – which benefited groups such as Camp Mak-a-Dream and Habitat for Humanity. 

Marvel Karch, Office Administrator and Donor Relations Coordinator

Marvel has been with WORC since September 1995. Not only does she keep the office running smoothly, she is lead on internal fundraising, donor support and stewardship and uses her 27+ years of logistics knowledge to do outside consulting for large meetings, which brings in extra revenue to WORC. Marvel also supplies support for accounting, training and communication work.

Eric Halstvedt, Regional Technology Coordinator


Eric joined the WORC staff in November 2013. He’s a fourth-generation Montanan with a B.A. in International Commerce & Spanish from Montana State University, and a B.S. in Information Systems from MSU-Billings. Eric has worked in the information technology field since 2000 when he went to work for Microsoft, and has used his technological knowledge in Montana’s non-profit community since 2004.

Michael Nelson, Washington DC Representative

Born and raised in Missoula, Montana, Michael attended the University of Montana and earned his BA in political science with a minor in international development studies. His passion for travel and regenerative agriculture propelled him to study abroad in Ifrane, Morocco, and farm in Bédarieux, France, as a WWOOF volunteer. As field manager for Forward Montana, Michael founded the first Full-Time Billings Field Office where he administered voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts to engage thousands of voters ages 18-35. Since joining WORC in October 2021, Michael can be found tracking legislation, Zooming with ally groups and members of congress, and connecting our member groups to their leaders in DC. 

Sarah Hunkins, Washington DC Representative

Sarah joined the WORC team in October 2022 as a DC Representative. She is a graduate of Boston College where she studied Sociology and Environmental Studies. Sarah grew up as a military brat and has moved over 12 times, living in Japan, Germany, Canada, Egypt, and throughout the United States. Her obsession with all things outdoors translated into a devotion to protect the planet. She started her career in the Berkshires as an environmental educator, teaching under-resourced public school students about the resilience and beauty of our natural world. From there, Sarah worked as an environmental organizer with Green Corps where she ran campaigns around the country to promote renewable energy, hold corporations accountable, and protect wildlife. She is passionate about invigorating the masses to take action against inequities and upsetting the status quo to enable progress and change in this country. She is excited in her new role at WORC to help pass formative legislation, support member groups, and build powerful campaigns and coalitions.

Elizabeth Bean, Campaign Coordinator

Originally from Kentucky where she grew up on the Ohio River, Elizabeth has always been intrigued by how we interact with our natural environment. She received a B.A. in Environmental and Sustainability Studies at the University of Kentucky. After organizing for several years on environmental campaigns, she took a pivot towards farming where she learned from teachers that were dedicated to providing organic and sustainably produced fruits, vegetables, and grains. Her role at WORC is coordinating regional campaigns and federal policies that focus on food systems that center the planet, producers, and eaters. In her free time she can be found backpacking, working with natural fibers, seeing live music, and hanging out with her dog Sula.

Niklas Peters, Campaign Coordinator

WORC campaign coordinator

Niklas Peters joined WORC in March 2023 as the Campaign Coordinator for Clean, Renewable Energy based out of Rapid City, South Dakota. Niklas has a background in community organizing, non-profit program management, and web design. Niklas has a degree in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. When not working, Niklas loves to garden, make art, and enjoy the outdoors.

Jessica Plance, Creative Content Producer


Jessica joined the WORC staff in March 2020. She is an environmental photojournalist from upstate New York. After graduating from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in photojournalism and environmental studies, she spent 4 years living and traveling around the west documenting conservation and research projects while advocating for the protection of public lands. Jessica produces photographs, articles, and videos for WORC’s Homegrown Stories, Homegrown Prosperity, and Living with Oil and Gas storytelling projects.

Eric Warren, Communications Lead


Eric grew up in Billings, Montana, but has since lived all over the mountain west including northern Wyoming and Colorado’s western desert. He majored in photography at Northwest College and creative writing at the University of Montana. He combined his visual and storytelling skills for almost a decade as a documentary filmmaker focusing on the environment, education, and rural issues. Before joining WORC in 2018, he produced films for Western Native Voice and Northern Plains Resource Council, including Mixing Oil and Water, which screened at dozens of film festivals on three continents.

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Pat Sweeney, Senior Advisor

Pat Sweeney Senior Advisor

Pat served as WORC’s Executive Director from 1982 to 2014. He is a third generation Montanan and a graduate of the University of Montana in history. He has been a community organizer on natural resource and family farm agriculture issues in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Region since 1972.  Pat has served on numerous state and federal boards and commissions dealing with energy, mining, reclamation and water. He is a founder of Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Rural Voters and Montana Native Vote. He currently serves on the board of Big Sky 55+ as Treasurer and Managing Director of A Better Big Sky, a Montana donor table. As senior advisor, Pat focuses on special projects, civic engagement and voter participation programs, and fundraising.

Kevin Williams, Senior Advisor

Kevin is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a Master of Science Degree in Forest Resources.  He retired as a full-time employee in 2019 after 35 years in the WORC network, and remains on staff as a part time senior advisor.  Kevin held several positions in the WORC network over the years including as a community organizer and then staff director for the Western Colorado Alliance.  As a regional organizer for WORC, Kevin helped plan and win a number of issue campaigns in partnership with the member groups focused on oil and gas, clean energy and food safety issues.  He was the lead organizer responsible for conducting an organizing assessment in eastern Oregon, which led to the formation of a new WORC member group, Oregon Rural Action.  He also helped build the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils.  During his tenure on the WORC staff he also provided assistance and support to WORC’s member groups in seven states, and helped design and facilitate countless trainings, workshops, conferences and meetings.  Kevin is currently providing advice and support on the build out of a new WORC member group in Nebraska, and on clean and renewable energy issues.  Kevin and his spouse Brenda live in Montrose, Colorado with their rescue dog Zorro.

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