Our Team

TJ Ellerbeck

Ali Vallarta

Nicole Weaver

Salt Lake City, Utah

Drew Cooper

Tara Benally

Bluff, Utah

Dalene Redhorse

Isaac Madson

Marcy Wauneka

Navajo Nation, Utah

Sam Van Wetter

Moab, Utah

Our Staff

To organize in Utah’s rural areas, you have to be there. We’re proud to hire and work with a local organizing team in Utah and on the Navajo Nation who are implementing campaigns for Utah’s future. We’re creating a strategy for long-term political and issue-focused investment in underrepresented areas. Look below to find your local organizer!

Meet the Team

TJ Ellerbeck

Executive Director

Salt Lake City, Utah

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TJ

TJ Ellerbeck came to the Rural Utah Project after working in political campaigns over the last decade, including serving as Political Director for the Utah Democratic Party 2015-2017. TJ got his start organizing in rural Utah through the election of Representative Brad King in Carbon County, and has made lifting up the voices of rural voters a priority in his work ever since.

Drew Cooper

Deputy Director

Bluff, Utah

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Drew

Drew came onboard the Rural Utah Project after working on campaigns across the country. A native Iowan, Drew got his start in rural organizing working on political campaigns across Utah. Drew is passionate about economic justice and rural representation.

Tara Benally

Field Director

Bluff, Utah

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Tara

With a long history of advocacy on the Navajo Nation, Tara is committed to issues of health care, education, and economic development. With a background in construction and community resilience, Tara brought her enthusiasm and talents to the Utah Navajo Trust Fund before joining the Rural Utah Project.

Ali Vallarta

Development Director

Salt Lake City, Utah

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Ali

Alejandra (Ali) got her start working with film festivals across the country, and has since spent her career building community & organization partnerships in order to shore up resources, tell great stories, and organize for progress. When she's not at work, you can find Ali wrangling horses and fishing for trout.

Isaac Madson

Communications Director

Lukachukai, Navajo Nation

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Isaac

Isaac has a degree in communication from Southern Utah University where he studied public relations and broadcasting. Isaac was born and raised on the Navajo Nation. He is passionate about Native American voter rights and economic development for his community.

Dalene Redhorse

Addressing Specialist

Navajo Nation, Utah

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Dalene

Dalene’s job description includes keeping RUP’s staff in check. Prior to joining RUP, Dalene was a substitute and after school teacher in Bluff, and is passionate about the intersection of Navajo Culture and education. When not finding new ways to identify voters, you can find Dalene enjoying sunshine and family.

Marcy Wauneka

Field Organizer

Navajo Nation, Utah

[email protected]
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Marcy

Marcy found RUP in 2019 while working with the Navajo Nation Addressing Authority, where she was assigning addresses in the Mexican Water community. She is now full-time on RUP's addressing team! Marcy loves being with her kids and being outdoors.

Sam Van Wetter

Field Organizer

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Sam

Sam found Rural Utah Project through ad on Boulder town's odds-and-ends listserv, Pegboard. His work as an organizer unites his love for the wild landscapes of Southern Utah and his belief in rural autonomy, food sovereignty, and community resilience. Sam is also a farmer, fiber artist, and outdoorsmyn.

Nicole Weaver

Operations Manager

Salt Lake City, Utah

[email protected]
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Nicole

Nicole has spent her career working in agricultural communities across the country and is passionate about the intersection of farming, climate, and culture. After following RUP’s work for a while and wanting to move her skillsets into the non-profit world, when RUP was looking for an Operations Manager it was the perfect fit! When she’s not wrangling RUP's daily operations, you can find Nicole on her mountain bike or exploring Utah’s never-ending scenery.

Our Mission

The Rural Utah Project seeks to empower underrepresented voters in rural Utah by providing them with tools, training, and knowledge by means of voter registration, education, and issue advocacy on important topics that affect all Utahns.

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