Rural Civic Engagement Project

RDI is working to organize leaders to understand and advocate for rural-specific issues at the local, state and federal level. As part of that process, RDI can bring policy experts to your community to provide training in defining issues and creating effective candidate and issue campaigns to connect people to local and state government.

Interested in learning to tackle community needs such as repairing pot holes, building playgrounds, reducing classes sizes, and more? RDI offers virtual or in-person Rural Civic Engagement Project trainings, with flexible program models for your community needs. If you have questions, please contact Marci Miller at mmiller (at) or Kendra Schaffer at kschaffer (at)  We appreciate your interest in effective government and your dedication to your community!

Check out RDI’s Rural Policy Priorities for 2023.

Rural Civic Engagement is coming to Milton Freewater, OR in September!

Want to learn how to better connect to government to make change in your community?
Join others interested in understanding government processes and taking action to make a difference. 

RDI and Sherwood Trust are bringing the Rural Civic Engagement project to Northeastern Oregon in Milton-Freewater. Dates and venues TBD. Focal points and topics throughout the four sessions include:

  • Navigating local and state government
  • Defining and championing community priorities
  • Developing compelling issue and candidate campaigns
  • Creating action plans that make things happen!

This opportunity will be available for anyone who lives in Milton-Freewater. It will include four in-person sessions featuring inspiring elected officials, government, and communications experts who can provide valuable perspective and one-on-one mentoring to all our participants.

For more information, please contact Marci Miller at or Kendra Schaffer at

Woman with Megaphone


  • Session 1: Understanding Local and State Governments
  • Session 2: Defining Issues and Building Coalitions
  • Session 3: Making Rural Voices Heard 
  • Session 4: Developing Strong Action Plans
  • Other (virtual, outside of set sessions): One-on-one and small group meetings with program staff will occur in-between sessions to provide support and answer questions.

Building Our Civic Muscles: A Three-Part Webinar Series on Connecting to Local Government

As part of the Rural Civic Engagement Project, RDI offered a webinar series in 2022 for rural Pacific Northwest community members interested in learning how to better connect to local government. 

RDI has partnered with the Center for Women's Leadership to create "Turn Up Your Voice," a Rural Civic Engagement program focused on educating and connecting woman leaders throughout rural Oregon.

Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) and the Center for Women’s Leadership (CWL) are partnering to create a civic engagement program focused on educating and connecting women leaders throughout rural Oregon. This program consists of five sessions: four sessions cover specific topics to inform participants on understanding local and state government, how to create support for the rural issues they face in their communities, and how to develop the message they want to convey their passion for their rural spaces. The fifth session is a two-day event in Salem, Oregon, where participants gather together in person to connect with one another and to meet with their representatives to speak about their community concerns.  

May 2023: For the fifth and final session of “Turn Up Your Voice,” participants gathered for a two-day event in Salem, Oregon to build a strong rural network with each other and to talk with their state and local representatives. Here they meet with Sophorn Cheang, Director of Business Oregon, to hear her story and talk about the challenges they face in their rural communities.


Marci Miller

Senior Regional Program Manager

mmiller (at)
Kendra Schaffer

Senior Outreach and Networks Coordinator

kschaffer (at)

Heidi Khokhar

Executive Director

hkhokhar (at)