Growing up in a predominately white town, Rachel Orton credits her Mother and Grandfather for teaching her the true history of America and to care for others as if they are your family. As a result of her upbringing and experiences as a student at Buffalo State College, she declared African American Studies as her major. Her collegiate highlights include being selected to participate in the NYS Model Senate Session Project in Albany, co-founding and organizing for the Buffalo Black Lives Matter chapter and studying abroad at the Dagara Music Center in Ghana. Throughout Orton’s on-campus residency, she was also a familiar face working with New Student Orientation and as a Resident Assistant.
Beginning in 2018, Orton went on to serve two consecutive Economic Development AmeriCorps terms at Peaceprints of WNY’s Bissonette House. Through the organization’s transitional housing program, she was able to support hundreds of men in re-building their lives post incarceration. It was here that Orton realized she has a natural ability to build trusting relationships with everyday people and wants her work to be centered in systemic change, specifically ensuring that Black communities are protected, valued, and invested in.
Orton is a 2021 graduate of Open Buffalo’s Emerging Leaders and is grateful for the opportunity to continue advancing racial, economic, and ecological justice as an employee. In her role as Program Associate, she assists the Executive and Deputy directors, leads a monthly Baby Club, and works on the collaborative Get The Lead Out campaign, advocating for equitable improvements to the water infrastructure in Buffalo.
Orton is most passionate about dismantling white supremacy, education, voting rights, homelessness, America’s criminal legal system, living wages, and universal healthcare/housing. In her car, you will most often find her listening to Kanye West or Soul Town on Sirius XM. She also practices non-toxic and zero waste living, enjoys traveling, going to the beach, frequenting small restaurants and businesses, and has a soft spot for animals.
Photo by Blanc Photographie.