Get to know
the passionate group of individuals that have volunteered their time and expertise to serve on the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Council:
David M. Arnold
YP Council: 2012-2014
@David_M_Arnold Managing Director at Straight Shot
Born and raised in the Western Nebraska town of Sutherland, David moved to Lincoln to pursue his Business Administration degree at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Following his undergraduate studies, David decided to continue his education at the University of Nebraska College of Law. During his studies he had the opportunity to work in a broad array of work environments including the United States Senate, Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, as well as the University of Nebraska Civil Law Clinic.
After finishing his Juris Doctor degree, David took a position as the Deputy Communication Director for the Omaha Mayor’s Office where he was to get a first-hand look at the inner workings of municipal government. In 2011, David was hired as the seventh employee of MindMixer – a local internet-based community involvement company – in the role of Director of Customer Satisfaction where he collaborated with clients across the nation to improve their outreach efforts. David is now the Managing Director of Straight Shot, a startup accelerator for early stage e-commerce and software as a service companies.
Connect with David if you are interested in discussing neighborhood-based economic development, entrepreneurial issues, & workforce training. Fun Facts: There were 35 people in my high school graduating class.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Associate, Professional Structural Engineer at LEO A DALY Company
Ryan was born and raised in Omaha and graduated from Millard South High School (after winning the Mr. Millard South pageant in 2001 that is not based on good looks, he is quick to say). He studied Architectural Engineering at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he was also a scholarship athlete with the Men’s Basketball program.
After earning his Master’s Degree in Architectural Engineering at UNO, Ryan was hired by LEO A DALY Company in 2007 as a Structural Engineer. His work enables him the opportunity to create, design and deliver the built environment in which we all live in. Ryan has worked on various large scale projects across the United States and is truly grateful for the responsibility that he has been given.
He currently lives in Omaha with his wife and son. They are members of Coram Deo, a Gospel Centered Missional Church Community that is relentless about engaging the city of Omaha. He is passionate about serving our metro area while running alongside fellow Omaha YP’s that are deliberate about making Omaha an exceptional place to call home. Ryan is also involved with the Greater Omaha YP Council of Companies, the LEO A DALY YP Council, Omaha By Design Technical Advisory Committee, the Society of American Military Engineers Student Mentoring Program, the Durham School-Architectural Engineering Mentoring Program, and is the Vice President of his neighborhood’s Home Owners Association. “Omaha is consistently voted one of the top cities in America for Young Professionals to live. I love the charm Omaha possesses – the museums, restaurants, music scene, and historic neighborhoods amongst other attractions, are simply a snap shot of all Omaha has to offer. Sure, our city has its issues, but that is why engaging in an emerging YP scene that constantly shapes the landscape of our community is so essential.”
Connect with Ryan if you are interested in discussing mentorship opportunities for Omaha’s youth, Omaha YP engagement events, starting a YP Group at your Company, NES’s Mike Tyson’s Punch-out, les Paul Gibson Guitars, running marathons and India Pale Ale’s (IPA’s). Fun Facts: I stand 6’-8” tall, and I am often times asked by strangers at the grocery store to grab the items off the top shelf.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Designer – DLR Group
A Kearney native, Scott began his journey eastward at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From there, Scott took the long road to Omaha, earning his Master of Architecture at Ohio State University (he refuses to say ‘The’), and marrying his college sweetheart, Audrey. Following this was an enjoyable – and educational – detour through Chicago, which served to prove Jane Jacobs’ concept that the best cities are actually federations of great neighborhoods. Throughout five years in Chicago, however, Scott and Audrey found that Nebraska continued to grow in their minds. Finally, the decision was made: the Dobbe’s moved to Omaha in spring of 2012, settling in a 98-year-old bungalow (labor of love) in Dundee.
Scott spends his days (and sometimes nights) designing schools, stadiums, and more with the fine people at DLR Group. In his free time, he can be found re-imagining the city with the Public Engagement Committee, attending a Young Art Patrons event, taking in a design alliance OMAha lecture, leading a neighborhood recycling pickup with friends from Coram Deo Church, or enjoying the latest offering at Film Streams. If you get Scott talking about why he lives in Omaha, be prepared for something like this: “I hold a fascination with cities – like living, breathing organisms comprised of overlapping systems complete with auto-catalytic processes and feedback mechanisms. I therefore see Omaha as an ever-changing entity – evolving to reflect the collective mindset of its residents. As a result, I’m not one to believe ‘that’s just the way things are’ or ‘there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Omaha is and will be what we make of it. Let’s make it awesome.”
Connect with Scott if you’re interested in talking density, spontaneous European travel, triathlons, the Cubs, biking to work, scotch, or living vicariously through other people’s dogs. Fun Fact: I like to believe I can identify any city in America from the air. (Strangely, my wife does not find it as fascinating when I nudge her awake to point out Toledo some 30,000 feet below) If you’re not ready to buy me a flight to test that claim, Google Earth will do as well.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Owner/Photographer at PhelixPhoto and Owner/Designer at Messenger Pigeons
Phil was born and raised in St. Louis, Missou-rah and graduated from Truman State University with dual degrees in Journalism (to pay bills) and Philosophy (because college, that’s why).
Like a salmon finding its way home, Phil followed the Missouri river upstream to Omaha in 2008 and has become increasingly involved with community causes: especially those relating to poverty and education (shout out to The Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands, Youth Emergency Services and The Midlands Mentoring Partnership).
Phil has spent years in working in photo processing, photojournalism, actual journalism, video production, the wild world of marketing things that people don’t actually need and now marketing for non-profit organizations. He currently is the Marketing Manager at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands – an absolutely amazing organization feeding, educating and nurturing over 1,500 kids every day.
Phil is absolutely thrilled to be working with the Omaha Young Professionals and hopes to work with the organization to activate even more parties into creating a city they can proudly call home.
Connect with Phil if you want to make something artsy that will really open people’s minds about needs or possibilities in this city.
YP Council: 2012-2014
@delineadesign Co-Owner/Creative Director at Delinea Design
Chad grew up in Lincoln and went to UNL, receiving a degree in English – Film Studies. Knowing full well that options were limited with said degree, Chad joined forces with Matt Bross to start Delinea Design (a multimedia creative studio). What started out as a way to pay for extraneous items in college (rent) became a lifelong obsession and legitimate business. Our hobbies became our passion, our passion became our company. Delinea Design grew, moved to Omaha and now resides in a beautifully restored warehouse in the Market West neighborhood of downtown Omaha; filled with a talented, creative, innovative team (come visit, coffee on tap).
My business moved me to Omaha; Delinea Design started in Lincoln, but all of our clients were in Omaha. Early on we threw around the idea of relocating to someplace warmer, someplace larger, etc. but in the end, we decided that Omaha had so much potential and we wanted to be a part of that momentum.
When not playing owner, creative director, manager, marketer, designer, videographer, coffee maker, janitor, etc. at Delinea, Chad is active in the Market West Neighborhood Alliance, acting as president and helping to create an urban oasis just west of the Old Market. Other passions involve making Omaha a more inclusive community for everyone, as well as a creative/tech magnet that is the envy of the rest of the country. Chad also took part in the ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute and is a founder of Equal Omaha. You’ll also find Chad at the Hanscom Bark Park with his pound-rescued lab-mix, Suki.
Connect with Chad if you are interested in chatting about: politics, human rights, urban development, alternative transportation, art, design, architecture, film… (just not the weather – in NE it’s a depressing subject for the most part). Fun facts: My minor was Japanese in college (I can barely speak a word now, but one of my fondest memories was visiting Japan). I have an unnatural fear of kites (can’t explain). I prefer the “flavor” red over all others beverages (pink & orange tie for second place; I despise blue). I’m extremely sensitive to the sound of Styrofoam, as it irritates my senses. Orange is my favorite color since grade school (I felt bad for it because nobody else liked orange, so I was ahead of the curve). I’m a nerd for tall buildings and can identify cities by their skylines (obscure places that I’ve never been to).
YP Council: 2012-2014
Executive Director, Live Well Omaha
After graduate school, Anne fell into the arts doing audience development, event planning and community fundraising at a symphony in Columbia, MO. She had no intention of returning to Omaha, only to come down with a strong case of homesickness due to lack of family. Her move back to Omaha also brought her to Live Well Omaha where she is tasked with leading the community collaborative organization. She also found, up her return, Omaha to have evolved into a place she truly wanted to be and became engaged in the community. Anne is involved in the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, Friends of Planned Parenthood, Opera Omaha, and the Film Streams Education Committee. “I live in Omaha because I can make an impact in measurable and meaningful ways. Here, I have a voice as an engaged citizen and as a young professional. And the community is on the brink of something exciting and energizing; this is truly a place that people want to stop and stay rather than fly over.”
Connect with Anne if you are interested in chatting about arts & culture in Omaha, yoga, baking, biking or running.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Environmental scientist at HDR
Meagan grew up on a hog/grain farm in small-town, South Dakota. Following a high school teaching career and graduate school, she, along with her daughter, made the move to Omaha for a job at HDR. Her main duties at HDR include writing NEPA documents, permitting and obtaining environmental clearances, and wetlands fieldwork. However, her passion for connecting young professionals led her to start a Young Professionals Group (YPG) in the HDR Omaha office in 2007 and the Omaha Council of Companies in 2008. Meagan then went on to serve as the Chair for the National YPG program at HDR from 2009-2011. Meagan also has been volunteering for the Greater Omaha YP Summit since 2008, including acting as the Programming Chair starting in 2009, and as Vice-Chair in 2013.
In her free time, Meagan is fixing up her and her husband’s 100-year-old farm house, attends her daughter’s high school activities, shops for antiques, reads, and obsesses over home improvement blogs. Meagan is also involved in the Greater Omaha YP Council of Companies and as an Omaha YP Summit volunteer. “I came to Omaha for my career, but I stayed because it became my home. I easily developed close friends and a professional network that makes me feel as if I’ve always lived here. While I don’t live within Omaha city limits, I am one of the thousands that commute to and from Omaha each work day.”
Connect with Meagan if you are interested in chatting about starting a YP group in your workplace, herpetology, growing up in small-town South Dakota, or even how to improve commuting to Omaha. Fun Facts: My dad is a huge history buff and when I was young our family participated in Civil War re-enactments. With that experience, my dad instilled in me an interest in early American history.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Director of Programming, NorthStar
Jannette Taylor was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. She is a Community Activist in North Omaha and has volunteered for many nonprofit organizations throughout Omaha over the last eleven years. She has always been involved in youth development and has worked with youth throughout the city in various capacities for several years. In 2006 she served as the District Executive at the Mid-America Council and revitalized the Umoja District of Boys Scouts in North Omaha. She focused her efforts on the Bridge to Success Program, an early entry college program for disadvantaged youth in Omaha Public School serving on the African-American Achievement Council and volunteering for their events. Through this program she and others helped many high school students get a jump start on college, taking courses at Metro Community College and University of Nebraska Omaha. She created Impact One Community Connection in 2009 and began focusing her energy on the marginalized youth and young adults in North Omaha. Working with the Empowerment Network of Omaha, Impact One began managing the Great Summer Jobs Program that has provided over 750 employment opportunities for high-at-risk youth and gang members in Omaha. Impact One provides gang intervention and prevention to young people on the street, in addition to providing intervention services at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University Medical Center.
Jannette’s personal life experiences has aided her in working with at risk youth in the city and has positioned her to be the perfect advocate for the marginalized people in the community. Jannette recently became a certified Nebraska Mediator through the Werner Institute at Creighton University School of Law and the Concord Center through the State of Nebraska. She is currently pursuing a JD in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution at the Creighton University Law School.
Why Omaha? “I was born and raised in Omaha. There’s no other place I’d rather be.”
Connect with Jannette if you are interested in knowing more about how to get involved with helping the youth in Omaha. Fun facts: I’m a twin and my sister is 6 feet tall. Being as I am vertically challenged, we look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in the movie Twins. My two favorite places in Omaha are Red Mango and Ted & Wally’s. I reluctantly admit I have visited these locations more than my church this year….I’m working on that.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Director of Development, KANEKO
A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Kenley moved to Omaha in 2008 from New York City to marry his wife, former GOYP board member, Jara Sturdivant-Wilson. Kenley has spent over 10 years as a fundraising professional working at the National Civil Rights Museum (the former Lorraine Motel and the site of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.), the Orpheum Theatre (the Memphis version), Grace Church School (a small independent school in the East Village of New York) and now here in Omaha at Joslyn Art Museum. As a product of a multi-cultural family, Kenley is passionate and committed to initiating and sustaining a cross-cultural and cross-racial dialogue that has been fostered by watching his parents and grandparents.
Kenley is involved with inCOMMON Community Development, The UNION for Contemporary Art,The Octopuses Garden Art Alliance and Joslyn’s Young Art Patrons My wife, Jara, and I live in Omaha because this city has provided amazing professional and social opportunities. Having lived on other regions of the country, I have found the professional opportunities in Omaha have been more available no matter your age. Socially, Omaha offers community activities equivalent to those offered in larger cities that are more affordable and convenient.
Connect with Kenley if you’re interested in chatting about the Arkansas Razorbacks, tennis, college football, Memphis barbeque, your multi-cultural identity Fun Facts: I changed my last name when I got married, have two chiweenies (Dachshund and Chihuahua mixes named Earle and Franklin) and I cannot catch poison ivy.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Vice President, Content Marketing – Ervin & Smith Advertising and Public Relations
Katie grew up in Schuyler, Nebraska – and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After graduating, Katie caught the ad agency bug and has worked in a variety of roles/departments throughout her career, including account coordinator, copywriter, creative director and account planner. In her current role, she is able to combine her love for business, creative problem solving, entrepreneurship and management. She helps facilitates strategic direction and development as it relates to the client’s business objectives through consumer insights, trend tracking and competitive research.
Outside the 8 to 5, Katie and her husband, Justin, have made it a top priority to live a creative lifestyle and be active citizens and participants in their communities. Katie is a fan of/supports the work for Omaha Creative Institute, Women’s Fund of Omaha, Special Olympics Nebraska, and design alliance OMAha. “Me and my husband live in Omaha because this is a place where there’s a growing creative class and outstanding YP opportunities. There are lots of exciting things happening in Omaha . . . and we feel that this city is just getting started! Plus, there are so many fantastic local venues, art galleries and more that we love to support. There’s always something fun for us to do, new people to meet, and new ways to connect to the community.”
Connect with Katie Kemerling if you’re interested in chatting about local shops + restaurants, movies, travel, YP challenges + opportunities, YP Summit, crafts, interior design and crime shows. Fun Facts: My maternal grandmother is from Japan – and I hope to make the trip someday! I got my very first pet 3 years ago . . . a mischievous Wheaten Terrier named Jezebel. And, I love French Fries.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Healthcare Banking Group | First National Bank
Born and raised in Norfolk, NE, Chris grew up traveling to the “big city” a couple of times a year. An opportunity to become a student athlete and play football at UNO brought him to Omaha in 2001. It was during this period, playing football at UNO, where he met some of the core people in his life and realized the importance of a relationships. Chris singed with the Buffalo Bills out of college and spent three years playing professional football. When he began looking for a career outside of athletics, everything circled around Omaha…centers of influence, core friends, family, etc. This led him back here, off and running with a “real job” in Omaha.
Chris came to know and understand the value that Omaha has when he spent a few years living outside the state. The connections and trust that we are able to build within this community was evident when he lived in the Northeast and South. Chris lives in Omaha because of family and the relationships that we can build here to accomplish what we believe in…and in Omaha, most of these are just a simple phone call or coffee chat away.
Chris also supports the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the UNO Alumni Association.
Connect with Chris Denney if you are interested in chatting about the current model of the State funded University of Nebraska system, Council of Companies, transportation, and sports; well, any sport but Nebraska Football.
YP Council: 2012-2014
Executive Director, Omaha Small Business Network
Julia J. Parker is a native Omahan and has worked in both the public and private sector over the past ten years. Since 2006, Julia has worked for Building Bright Futures (BBF), a local education non-profit dedicated to measurably improving lifelong education outcomes for every child in Douglas and Sarpy County. She currently serves as Director of Operations. Prior to joining BBF, Julia worked for the City of Omaha in the Mayor’s Office as a Communications Assistant during Mayor Mike Fahey’s administration as well as a Legislative Intern for United States Senator E. Benjamin Nelson.
Julia is passionate about the Omaha community and is a strong advocate for a variety of local non-profits. She currently serves on The Union for Contemporary Art Board of Directors as Treasurer, the Girl Incorporated: girlFRIENDS Guild Board of Directors as Treasurer, the Omaha Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) Board of Directors as Vice President and is a member of the Omaha Jaycees and Joslyn Art Museum Young Art Patrons.
I live in Omaha because I *love* the unique opportunities for both personal and professional growth that are readily available. I believe there is truly a niche for everyone in Omaha and if you disagree – well – call me and let’s work on making it happen!
Fun Fact: On the top of my bucket list is to visit every continent and I have 2 left: Antarctica and Australia.
Connect with Julia if you are interested in chatting about diversity in Omaha, coffee beans, giving your time or resources to local non-profits, 80s movies or if you have free tickets to Australia.
YP Council: 2013-2015
Engineering Project Manager – Valmont Industries
Andres Torres was born and raised in Colombia (the country, not Missouri!). He received his bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the National University of Colombia, and then enrolled in the English Language program at the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2001. He chose to come to Omaha for its low cost of living, the opportunity to speak English and the friendly mid-western vibe. Andres also earned a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 2005 and most recently, a master’s of Business Administration from UNO in 2013.
Andres is currently a licensed professional civil engineer and has worked at Valmont Industries since 2005. As an engineering project manager, Andres designs tubular steel structures manufactured by Valmont that are used to support transmission and distribution lines, highway lighting, sports lighting, and traffic lights for overseas customers. He has designed structures for more than 25 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
Andres is an active member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and served as co-chair of Nebraska ASCE’s Younger Members Group from 2010-2013. He also volunteers his time to help with Engineers Without Borders, St. Andrews Church, Future City Competition and other ASCE activities for youth in the community. In his spare time, Andres likes spending time with his wife, Heather, walking his four-year-old golden-doodle, Millie, attending theater productions at the Omaha Community Playhouse, reading and biking.
Connect with Andres if you’re interested in chatting about international travel, ethnic food options in Omaha, mass transportation systems, volunteering opportunities that promote careers in STEM fields, biking in/around Omaha or James Bond movies. Fun fact: Recently became a U.S. citizen and voted for the first time in Omaha’s mayoral primary election.
YP Council: 2013-2015
@LindseySpehn Director of Talent Sourcing-Gallup
Lindsey was born and raised in Lincoln and graduated from Lincoln East High School. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Psychology, and was involved in a number of campus organizations including Delta Gamma, the Panhellenic Association and American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. After taking a few organizational behavior classes in the College of Business, Lindsey became fascinated to learn how her love for psychology could be applied in the business world. Lindsey earned her Master of Business Administration degree from UNL with a focus in Human Resources Management and made the big move up I-80 to join Gallup. As a member of the Talent Resources team Lindsey manages Gallup’s campus recruitment and employment branding strategies for a number of universities in the Midwest and is the lead recruiter for Gallup’s Client Services teams in the Eastern U.S.
As a relatively new resident of Omaha Lindsey thrives on continuing to learn about her community, meeting new people, and discovering ways to help others become engaged in all that our city has to offer. “Omaha has become my new home – It provides resources and opportunities to help individuals thrive socially, physically, through community involvement, and in their career – you just have to seek them out!” Outside of her GOYP involvement in Council of Companies and the YP Summit, Lindsey is involved in -Nebraska Alumni Association’s Cather Circle, a mentoring and networking organization for women; Hope Center For Kids as an Employment and Learning Academy volunteer and TeamMates Mentoring Program as a post-secondary mentor. Lindsey serves as an Adviser for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Delta Gamma chapter and is Vice President of Membership for the Delta Gamma Omaha Alumnae chapter.
Connect with Lindsey if you’re interested in chatting about: How to get involved with GOYP but don’t know where to start, talent and workforce initiatives of the Chamber/GOYP, “hot spots” for dining and shopping in Omaha, European travel, pretty much any show on the Bravo channel, your “Top 5” Strengths, and Husker football (GBR!). Fun facts: I have been a spectator of the “Running of the Bulls” on three separate occasions and I used to be a competitive baton twirler (ask for demonstration at your own risk!).
YP Council: 2013-2015
Adjunct Professor at Iowa Western Community College & Development at Nebraska Writer’s Collective
Lora grew up in Fremont, Nebraska and earned a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Communications from Midland Lutheran College. She went directly on for a master’s degree in Theatre and Costume Design from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has since stayed in Omaha. Although you can see some of Lora’s designs and costumes on local theatre stages, she now focuses on arts advocacy and administration as the director of Sales and Events at Omaha Community Playhouse. She serves on the Membership Committee for Nebraskans for the Arts and on the board of the Nebraska Writer’s Collective. She was also one of the founding members of the Metro Arts and Culture Pass that strives to promote all of the amazing nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Omaha.
She and her husband, Michael Pray, love exploring the city and on weekends can be found at Fontenelle Forest, Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium or catching a movie at Film Streams. Lora feels the best part of Omaha is having a city that truly serves as your living room, even with a beloved and beautiful 123-year-old home; her favorite place to be is adventuring throughout all of Omaha. Lora truly believes in the magic of live performance and the transformative power of theatre and she is grateful that so many people in Omaha share her passion for the performing arts.
Connect with Lora if you’re interested in knowing more about theatre, fashion, design, music, classic movies, literature (especially William Shakespeare, Jane Austin or Agatha Christie) or the humanities in general. Fun Fact: I am allergic to the entire world and desperately want a puppy, but I have settled with two adorable Zebra Finches, Franklin and Edison. Hopefully, I will soon be adding a tortoise to my family.
YP Council: 2013-2015
@jimclementsjr Attorney – Welch Law Firm, P.C.
Jim has been practicing as a civil and commercial litigation attorney with Welch Law Firm, P.C. for the last three years. After graduating from the University of Florida, Fredric College of Law, Jim lived and practiced law in Tampa, Florida. He and his wife decided to move back to Omaha once they learned they would be having their first child because as everyone says “Omaha is a great place to raise a family”. Outside of work Jim spends time with his family and with volunteer activities. He is involved with the Heart Ministry Center as a volunteer lawyer through the Nebraska State Bar Association and is on the boards of the Mount Michael Benedictine Alumni Association and the Leadership Omaha Alumni Association.
After moving away and coming back to Omaha three different times and living in cities like Seattle, Denver and Tampa, he is convinced Omaha is one of the best cities in the United States and still underrated. He also believes it is important for young professionals to take leadership roles in the Omaha community whether it be in neighborhoods, nonprofits, the political arena or in the business community in order to keep Omaha moving forward.
Connect with Jim if you’re interested in discussing ways to get involved in Omaha, Nintendo’s Super Tecmo Bowl, good places for burgers or breakfast in Omaha or for some conversation. Fun fact: I somehow was able to marry a ballet dancer from Uruguay.
2015 Summit Chair
YP Council: 2013-2015
@TuckerSarah Accounts Development Executive – West Corporation
Sarah is serving as chair for the 2015 YP Summit. A transplant to Omaha from Kentucky, Sarah enjoys sharing her Southern roots and culture with the Midwest. She discovered the community of Young Professionals via the Summit in 2010 and was encouraged to find an instant community to befriend after her move away from home. She’s been volunteering with the YP group since then. By day, she works in business development for Jelecos and 24/7 she’s a mom to 5 fascinating children. She enjoys hosting dinner parties and participating in lively book clubs.
Sarah love’s exploring Omaha restaurants, spending time at Cedar Creek Lake, playing taxi driver for kids activities, volunteering, reading, drinking good wine and participating in the social media parts of the world – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – all of it!
Sarah is passionate about giving back and volunteering in our city, equal rights and balancing a career and motherhood.
Connect with Sarah if you’re interested in knowing more about being a step-mom, how to get active by volunteering in our community, and where to eat for dinner tonight. Fun Facts: I am a gourmet chef wanna-be & nothing gives me greater pleasure than a dining room full of friends, family, laughter & really good food. Let me know if you want an invite to the next dinner party!
YP Council: 2013-2015
@vyhlidal Manager of Organization Effectiveness – ConAgra Foods
John is passionate about making things better through great ideas and meaningful connections. He has been fortunate to have a professional career that has allowed him to live that passion. He began his career as an officer in the US Air Force where he led teams of highly trained employees who managed Air Force-wide studies using statistical analysis, as well as performance improvement studies. Following the Air Force he worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where he led project teams conducting risk-based finance and IT assessments. Today, at ConAgra Foods, John leads teams that conduct reviews which are designed to identify, understand and recommend how to deal with risk throughout the company. In this position he spends a significant amount of time leading and developing people and building relationships with management throughout the company.
John is also involved in Project Interfaith and the United Way of the Midlands. “As a city, Omaha had tremendous success weathering the economic storm which swept our country in 2008. In my opinion, much of this success is rooted in the “Nebraska work ethic” and practical, conservative nature of many Omahans. However, as a city we need to continue to find ways to leverage that pragmatic style with a progressive focus toward the future,” said Vyhlidal,.“ I was extremely proud of my company for taking a stand in favor of the city’s GLBT ordinance and was heartened when the ordinance passed. In order to keep and recruit top talent in Omaha we need an inclusive culture that embraces diversity.”
“Additionally, we need to find ways to develop our young talent here at home, starting with our local schools and universities. As an arm of the Greater Omaha Chamber , I believe the GOYP can have a huge impact on embracing diversity, recruiting talent and developing local talent. There are several local programs and nonprofits in our community today that are working to tackle these issues. The GOYP can continue to support these groups, sharpen their focus, create synergies between the efforts and amplify their message” says Vyhlidal.
Originally from Columbus, Nebraska, John went to school at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, NE. After college, he and his family lived in Dover, Deleware and San Antonio, Texas while in the Air Force and Chicago and Kansas City with PwC. John, his wife Sandie, and their two kids are thrilled to be back in Omaha!
Connect with John if you’re interested in talking about a holistic view of diversity and inclusion, finding new ways to do things better, running, or sailing.
YP Council: 2013-2015
@OmahasAngel REALTOR® – DEEB Realty
Angel is a native Omahan, and a real estate agent with DEEB Realty. She is an Omaha Central graduate, who studied Elementary Education and Nonprofit Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha – where she was a Goodrich scholar.
Angel enjoys working with individuals, especially first-time homebuyers/sellers, and walking them through the process of purchasing or selling their homes. She loves sharing the excitement of life events, and buying a home is usually on a person’s bucket list! “Omaha is on the move, and I love showing people that it’s a great place to live, work and play.” Angel was honored as the 2013 Rookie of the Year!
Angel is a real estate agent by profession, and an educator by passion. She believes her purpose in life is to fight for the rights of children; especially their educational and social-emotional needs. Angel has served many years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Douglas County along with serving on the Child Saving Institute Guild Board. She believes everyone is a teacher in their own right.
Angel is an active member of Greater Beth-el Temple for 15 years. She enjoys spending time with church family, and serving at outreach events and services. She likes to stay in-the-know about community events, and is a self-proclaimed life-long learner. “I love new experiences and I am a complete out-of-the-box thinker. I value differences.” Angel is an avid supporter of servant-leadership. Her motto is “I am here to serve!”
Connect with Angel if you’re interested in exploring the Omaha real estate market, visiting the Durham Western Heritage Museum (one of her favorite places), singing karaoke, attending theatrical performances, volunteering with Omaha’s youth, connecting efforts to improve our community’s collective impact, listening to music, or just enjoying being YOU! Fun fact: I love purple!
YP Council: 2014-2016
Development Director, Omaha Public Library Foundation
Omaha native Wendy Townley isn’t satisfied with just one profession. She works as development director for the Omaha Public Library Foundation, where she raises funds and advocates for The Omaha Public Library, its 12 branches, patrons, programs, services and staff.
Since 2008, Townley has taught part-time for the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication. Her course, Media Storytelling, transforms undergraduate journalism and public relations students into backpack journalists each semester.
Townley’s first book, Nerdy Thirty, was published in 2010 by WriteLife. A former newspaper reporter, Townley writes for a handful of local and national publications. An avid knitter and beginning quilter, she also blogs at her website, WendyTownley.com.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in communication, both from UNO.
Townley and her husband, Matt Tompkins, have been married since 2012. Much of their life as no-longer-newlyweds can be heard Friday mornings during the “All Around Townley” segment on The Pat and JT Show on Q98 (98.5 FM).
YP Council: 2014-2016
Manager of Transportation Planning, Union Pacific
Yvette Butler was born in St. Louis, raised in Omaha and successfully matriculated through Omaha Public Schools. She received her Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and her MBA in Operations Management at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. As a 15-year-old junior at Central High School, she accepted an internship at Union Pacific Railroad in the Information Technology department and has been with the company ever since. Today, Butler is in the Operating department as a Manager of Transportation Planning where she uses data-driven decision making to manage the operationally-critical resources flowing through the Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma regional areas of the railroad.
Butler is a member of Joy of Life Ministries, Church of God in Christ and has enjoyed a very active involvement in the church, particularly as the president of the music department and lead musician since 1999. She is also an active recruiter and interviewer for Union Pacific, specifically focused in retaining minority young professionals that transfer to Omaha for the job, but who need a support system to adjust to the delta in life in Nebraska as a minority. She is also on the admissions committee for University of Chicago Booth School of Business and takes frequent trips back to Chicago for application reviews, candidate interviews and recruitment events.
The fuel that drives Butler is the magic of giving just an incremental piece of time or energy and the resulting powerful impact it can make in the community. She has had an opportunity to mold and inspire the minds of low-income students of Omaha as a summer school music teacher for PDAC, Inc. since 2012. She also participates in a free giveaway with her local church twice a year to provide the basic clothing necessities that are lacking in supply for North Omaha families. Butler is also a board member of the Nebraska Foster Care Review where she takes a monthly assessment of foster care cases within her district to determine if parents and guardians are taking necessary steps required by the court to have their children reunified in their original home.
As a true “logistics junkie”, Butler desires to stay involved in community and professional activities that allow her room to create, develop and support programming and events that can help others work and be better. Most importantly, her involvement will forever be with organizations that look past economic status, educational achievements, or professional standing, and are yet still feeding the community with the tools and resources to thrive and be successful.
YP Council: 2014-2016
After moving from Alaska to Maryland to Virginia to Nebraska to Colorado then back to Nebraska (I’m tired just thinking about all the moving), Zachory Klebba took root in Nebraska where he attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned his Bachelor of Science in Design and ultimately his Master of Architecture in 2013. He started immediately with the firm LEO A DALY, and as a young designer, Klebba has developed innovative design solutions to complex problems and served on multiple project teams whose goals range anywhere from winning international, multi-million-dollar projects to renovating historic buildings here at home.
A passion for people and building genuine relationships has kept Klebba in Omaha for the past 15 years. After reading about the Greater Omaha Young Professionals vision and mission, it became clear to Klebba why the group exists and the importance of retaining our young people for the benefit of our entire city. Nebraska is experiencing a “brain drain” in that we are losing young people with college degrees to other states who are offering more attractive incentives for young people to live, work and play. Klebba wants to have a pivotal role in putting an end to this trend and make Omaha the most attractive place in the world!
He serves on the Leadership Team for the Young Adult ministry at his church and has seen first-hand the influence young professionals can have when they dare to identify and address unmet needs within the city. As Creator and former Executive Director of the Omaha Midnight Run (a nonprofit and 5k race that takes place in the streets of downtown), he has a knack for getting people out of their seats and onto the streets, challenging them to take ownership of their city and impact the lives of the hurting and the broken.
Don’t be fooled by the profile photo; Klebba usually doesn’t spend much time nonchalantly hanging out in front of brick walls; you are more likely to find him competing on the soccer field, volleyball court, tennis court, golf course and most definitely the card/board game table. Challenge him to a game of Scrabble at your own risk. Fun fact: At his twin brother’s wedding, he was congratulated three separate times on his recent marriage.
YP Council: 2014-2016
Jonathan Wegner grew up in Midtown on Izard Street, where the annual “Drazi” Memorial Day parade continues to hold a warm spot in his heart. He studied at Santa Clara, Oxford and Northwestern before enjoying the itinerant life of a journalist and writing for publications like Consumer Reports and Business Week. When he took a job as a business reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, he thought it was a great chance to cover Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. Instead, he rediscovered a business and volunteer community that he thinks is second to none.
Today, Wegner is an attorney at Baird Holm LLP who enjoys helping clients start, grow, buy and sell businesses. When he isn’t lawyering, he enjoys spending time with his three young children at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium and the Omaha Childrens Museum. He and his wife, Ashley, also like attending events through Omaha Performing Arts, Opera Omaha and KANEKO. He likes helping people in Omaha get networked with others who can help them pursue their passions, and prefers to do so over a good burger.
Connect with Wegner if you’re interested in discussing how to get more involved in Omaha, flying helicopters, modern art, and the best way to grill a steak or the amazing selection at Jackson Street Booksellers.
YP Council: 2014-2016
Sarah Sjolie is an Omaha native and big fan of all Omaha has to offer. For 10 years, Sjolie has worked in different capacities at Alegent Creighton Health. She began in corporate communication and now serves the organization as Director of Healthier Communities and Community Benefit leading efforts on unmet health needs of the area. In this role, she leads Federal community health needs assessments, implementation and reporting requirements for 10 hospital locations, and directs various system-wide healthier communities’ strategies in childhood obesity, active transportation, violence prevention and access to care.
A Westside High School graduate, Sjolie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a co-major in Biology from Creighton University and a Master in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is a Scholar of the University of Nebraska Medical Center Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute, Midland’s Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 recipient and is trained to facilitate with the Technology of Participation®. She currently co-chairs a statewide healthy policy change organization, Nebraska Action for Healthy Kids. She is a member of the Morton Meadows neighborhood association, Association for Community Healthcare Improvement, the Partnership for Active Transportation and is celebrating her 10th year of volunteering at the Stephen Center Homeless Shelter. She completed her first marathon in 2013, and appreciates Omaha area trails, parks and character-filled neighborhoods for great running space.