Who We Are

Western Colorado Congress is a grassroots, democratic organization dedicated to challenging injustice by organizing people to increase their power over decisions that affect their lives. WCC’s community groups and members work together to create healthy, sustainable communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship and a truly democratic society.

In the late 1970s, local citizens groups sprouted across the Western Slope of Colorado in response to threats to their local communities – coal and molybdenum mining, oil shale development, and plans for powerlines were a few of the concerns. As the scope of their concerns broadened, members of these local groups decided to band together to create a unified citizens voice. From these groups and their members, the Western Colorado Congress formed in 1980. Because Western Colorado Congress takes on such a variety of issues, it has come to mean different things to different people. However, WCC has always maintained its commitment to organizing citizens on issues that directly affect their lives. Our vision is a Western Slope that works for everybody, and community leaders and movements that are empowered to keep it that way.

Our Values

True Grassroots Democracy

A fundamental aspect of our work is to be an advocate for democracy in the places where we live. We believe that democracy works properly only when ordinary folks have a voice in the way decisions are made and who gets to make them, and that strengthening our democracy is the most patriotic thing we can do.


We’re guided by the goal of a more equitable, compassionate society – one where public policy is guided by the public good. We’re a watchdog for social, economic and environmental justice. We work to reform unfair power structures in our communities, our state and our region.

Positive Solutions

We bring people together around a shared vision for our communities and the Western Slope. Our approach is pragmatic: we seek common-ground, common-sense solutions that work for the community as a whole. We don’t believe it’s a zero-sum game where someone has to lose in order for someone else to win.

Forward-Looking Leadership and Civic Engagement

We challenge the laissez-faire, status-quo-perpetuating style of governance that passes for leadership across much of western Colorado. We offer an inspiring vision of what our communities can become, and we build the political will for it by developing and supporting responsive, activist leaders and a more engaged electorate.

Political Power, Not Partisanship

Rather than siding with the party that looks friendliest on our issues, we strive to make our issues nonpartisan so that both parties embrace them and the only fight is about how to do it. That’s how real, lasting change happens. Likewise, we hold all decision-makers accountable to their constituents, regardless of party.


We aspire to create a broad-based movement whose strength derives from the diversity of its members and the inclusiveness of its culture. We’re committed to being the change we want to see in the world by modeling cooperative decision-making, respectful dialog and civic engagement through WCC’s own structures and behavior.

Our Theory of Change

All too often, people feel like they can’t change anything: “What can one person do?” The system marginalizes us, divides and conquers us. WCC flips that script, employing community organizing and leader development to enable people to build and exert their collective political power. We don’t deliver services or run programs; rather, we seek to address root causes by changing policies and power structures through strategic campaigns.

In all societies and in all times, there’s an inevitable tendency for power to become concentrated in the hands of a few. We believe that the best way to check this tendency is by organizing people at the grassroots level to increase their power over the decisions that affect their lives, and by developing community leaders to maintain this work over the long term. We believe that this rebalancing of power not only ensures a fairer and more compassionate society, but also makes democracy work better and increases individual freedom and social stability.

Community organizing brings people together – first they see that they’re not alone, and then learn that they can join with others to gain real political power (which is simply the ability to make change). In an age dominated by social media and superficial clicktivism, community organizing fills a need for authentic civic engagement and good old-fashioned human interaction.

Our organizers provide members with leadership and skills training, then empower them to create their own campaigns, formulate strategy, and serve as spokespeople. Their campaigns grow organically and build community buy-in and pride. In this way, we seek to make positive change, strengthen democracy, and develop citizen-leaders who will become the decision-makers of the future.

Our campaigns cover a variety of issues, but what unites them is that they’re designed to build a permanent movement that challenges unfair power structures and advances the cause of social, economic and environmental justice.

Our Staff Team

Emily Hornback

Staff Director

Emily has been a community organizer with WCC since 2013, focusing on the impacts of oil and gas development as well as public lands and the state legislature. Born and raised on the Western Slope, Emily graduated from Colorado State University with a double major in Anthropology and Spanish. She spent some time working in Central and South America before returning to Maine to work for the grassroots art-activist collective, The Beehive Design Collective. She served as a social researcher, designer and public speaker for the Beehive’s “True Cost of Coal” campaign.

Jeriel Brammeier

Community Organizer

Jeriel joined the WCC staff in February 2017. If you’ve been paying attention, though, you’ll remember her as our Canvass Director for the successful Minimum Wage ballot initiative in 2016! In her young career, Jeriel has worked with engaged citizens across Colorado on issues ranging from Veteran’s affairs, healthcare and women’s rights. Jeriel has called Grand Junction and the Western Slope “home” for 16 years, and enjoys running, hiking, biking and crafting with her daughter Emma.

Brenda Bafus-Williams

Communications Coordinator

Brenda originally joined the staff in 1986 as our part-time Office Coordinator. Brenda has a degree in Botany from the UW in the Pacific Northwest, where she once tracked endangered species for the feds. Now she enjoys practicing t’ai chi, hiking in the high country, and swing dancing when a good band comes to town. Her husband Kevin is the Director of Organizing and Campaigns for the Western Organization of Resource Councils.

Kelly Dougherty

Membership & Database Coordinator

Kelly is an Iraq veteran who served in the Colorado Army National Guard for eight years as a medic and military police sergeant. Upon returning from Iraq in 2004, she co-founded the nonprofit organization Iraq Veterans Against the War. She helped build this post-9/11 veterans’ organization from seven members to over 1,500. Whenever possible, Kelly likes to explore the canyons, mountains, and rivers of the Southwest with her family and is looking forward to teaching her four year-old daughter to ski this year!

Our Board of Directors

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