Sara Kendall, Interim Executive 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 provides support to 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 is pursuing a B.S. in Accounting from Montana State University.
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.
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.
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.
Raichle was born in Portland and grew up in the muddy forests and rocky shorelines of Oregon and Washington state. She took to the water after seeing industrial drilling vessels in Bellingham Bay as a “kayaktivist,” and began supporting farmworker unionization as an organizer through the connections she made. She completed her degree in Community Environmental Ethics at Western Washington University, spending time studying at Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation and with University of Victoria in BC. Raichle started her journey with WORC as an intern in 2021, and couldn’t help but come back as a Campaign Coordinator in 2023. She enjoys the company of plants and people alike, and in her spare time can be found with her nose in a botany book, up a cliff face on a climbing route, or cooking food from her garden for her friends and family.
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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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.
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 recently retired as a full-time employee after 35 years in the WORC network. Kevin held several positions in the WORC network 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. In 2020, Kevin will provide advice and consultation on WORC’s Great Plains Organizing Project, which entails building two new WORC member groups in Nebraska and Kansas. Kevin and his spouse Brenda reside in Montrose, Colorado.
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