Omaha 2018 Fellows

Meet the 2018 Omaha Fellows
(back to NLC 2018 Fellows)

Shams Al-Badry

Academic Advisor, University of Nebraska Lincoln

PHOTOShams Al-Badry is a passionate advocate for educational equity and early childhood education. Shams was born in Iraq, a few days after her birth her family fled Iraq to a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia. Her family won a lottery that provided them the opportunity to leave the refugee camp and relocate to Lincoln, Nebraska.

Shams has always valued education, because of the values her parents instilled in her and the opportunities that were granted to her while attending a public school system. Soon after graduating from Lincoln High, Shams attended the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), where she studied Political Science and International Human Rights. While at UNL, she discovered her passion for social activism and educational equity. She was actively involved as a campus leader through various student organizations, interned with Appleseed Nebraska and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office. After graduating from UNL in 2014, Shams joined Teach for America, spending two years teaching at a bilingual Early Childhood Education Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Through her time in Teach for America she became involved in community organizing and advocacy. In 2016 Shams was awarded the Kansas City Teach for America Community Service Award for her work in the local community. She has lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of millions of Americans living in poverty asking Members of Congress to support a proposal that will lift families out of poverty as a Real Change Fellow with Results.

Currently, Shams serves as an Academic Advisor. In addition to her role as an advisor, she is a board member for the YWCA, a graduate student studying Community Development and the Alumni Advisor for Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Incorporated. She continues to stay active in the Lincoln community and hopes to bridge the education gap between low-income communities and the education system.

Nicholas Banks

Retention Coordinator, University of Nebraska at Omaha

PHOTOBorn in Omaha, Nebraska, Nicholas attended Central Park Elementary and Nathan Hale Middle schools before attending and graduating from Omaha Central High in 2009. That fall, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL). While there, Nicholas was an active member of several organizations, such as: the Afrikan People’s Union; Black Men Organized for Retention and Education, an organization he founded; and the Union Board. He graduated from UNL in December of 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies.

Nicholas is a member of Paradise Baptist Church – Rev. Dr. Thomas L. Smith, Sr., Pastor, and is currently employed as the Retention Coordinator at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. There, Nicholas is tasked with assisting and ensuring the success of African-American students; he also serves as the primary advisor to the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the governing body for the nine major historically African-American fraternities and sororities; and Black Excellence (B.E.), UNO’s Black student union. Nicholas was initiated in to the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in April of 2011. Since his initiation, he has served the fraternity in a variety of roles and capacities, including: Second Vice District Representative for the Eighth District; Basileus and Keeper of Records and Seal (KRS) for the Tau Kappa chapter and Vice-Basileus and Keeper of Records and Seal for the Beta Upsilon chapter. In addition, he co-chairs the Omega Squires Mentoring Program and is an active member of numerous chapter committees including Project Manhood and Friends, Social Action, Scholarship, and Achievement Week. Nicholas has had an active role as a Beautillion Committee member with the Omega Charita-ble Foundation of Omaha through the Beta Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. since 2015. He was appointed as Chairman of Beautillion in April of 2016, serving as overseer of all Beautillion operations from participant recruitment, choreography and program logistics.

Nicholas has become a very visible community advocate through his personal mentoring of many of the city’s youth. His passion for providing a big brother like figure for Omaha’s teens and young adults is without question. He continues to aim to make a difference in his numerous communities, striving every day to be a bridge builder and contribute to the maintaining of the village.

Tanishia Butler

UniServ Director, Lincoln Education Association

PHOTOBorn in Omaha, Nebraska and raised in Okinawa, Japan, Tanishia has always had a love of helping people. After teaching first grade and volunteering for her local and state unions for fourteen years, she transitioned to the UniServ Director for the Lincoln Education Association. In her position, she provides member rights services, is the association lobbyist, and advocates for educators. Tanishia is passionate about social justice issues in education, empowering teachers, staying informed on educational trends, the recruitment and retention of teachers of color, and supporting public schools in Nebraska.

As a life-long learner, Tanishia holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, a second master’s degree in Educational Administration, and will graduate from the Creighton Doctoral program in Interdisciplinary Leadership in December 2017. Tanishia enjoys spending time with her fiancé and puppy, shopping, running, and cheering on the Huskers!

Ben Cass

Senior Developer / Tech Lead, Mutual of Omaha

PHOTOBen is a young professional with a passion for communication, servant leadership, and creating effective change to improve the world around him. Towards those ends, he believes in building strong communities and institutions to create a more just and equal society. Ben works at Mutual of Omaha as a Senior Software Developer and as the Technical Lead for his department. Prior to Mutual, he spent nine years at Markel Corporation (formerly FirstComp Insurance Company) creating and managing DevOps solutions and developing software.

Since the 2016 convention season, Ben has been an active Democratic Party member. He represents the Downtown and South Omaha district in both the Nebraska Democratic Party and the Douglas County Democratic Party. Within those organizations, he serves as Secretary for the state Rules Committee and is a member of the county Rules and Organization Committee and state Platform and Resolutions Committee. Bringing his professional experience with him, Ben seeks to restore integrity, accessibility, and accountability to all levels of the party in order to better create the necessary political environment needed for progressive change. In 2017, Ben co-founded the Democratic Bazaar, a local politics meetup, with the mission to foster a community and culture of dialog, respect, and inclusivity within the Greater Omaha Area.

Following a non-traditional path, Ben accomplished his major educational achievements early in life. He earned his associate's degree from Metropolitan Community College at age fifteen and his bachelor's degree in computer information systems from Bellevue University at age seventeen. In addition to his work, Ben is an accomplished swing dancer and a regular fixture at Omaha Jitterbugs' events. In addition to volunteering, performing, and teaching swing, he teaches lindy hop, blues, and dances modern as a member of UNO's The Moving Company. During his free time, he enjoys reading, cooking, board games, and yoga. Ben is an Eagle Scout.

Krystal Fox

Client Service Analyst, First Data

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Krystal Fox graduated from Truman State University in 2007 with a degree in Political Science and minors in African-American Studies and Economics, where her research about voter efficacy in African countries was published in the Politics and Policy Journal (2006), as an example of a lifelong belief in the power of voting for underserved communities. Krystal’s family has been a catalyst for her belief in social justice and serving our community from the very beginning. As the oldest child with 3 younger brothers, Krystal has learned to lead in many different ways. She believes it is important to meet people where they are and provide support for communities affected disproportionately by poverty, systemic racism, and sexism. Krystal has served her community in many ways through the past as a member of Leadership Sarpy, a volunteer at the FoodBank of the Heartland, the Coalition of 100 Black Women, League of Women Voters – Sarpy, and National Council of Negro Women.

After 10 years in various customer service roles, Krystal Fox prides herself on being a champion for collaborative problem-solving. This experience has taught her to be understanding of differences and to work with people from all walks of life. Currently, Krystal is a Client Service Analyst at First Data, helping clients problem solve issues they have with applications and processes. She believes the best solutions to all problems are developed through groups coming together to discuss resolutions. She brings this attitude to her volunteer work as a volunteer with Big Brother Big Sisters, the Women’s Center for Advancement, and as Social Action Chair for the Omaha Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.

For fun, Krystal enjoys travelling and trying new things in her quest to mark things off her bucket list. So far she’s completed cooking classes, acting classes, and skydiving. Up next is parasailing, horseback riding, and ice skating.

Meghan Francis

Education & Training Associate, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland

PHOTOMeghan Francis is proud to work at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland as Education & Training Associate where she assists in managing a federal grant to implement evidence-based sex education in five counties in Nebraska and Iowa. After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Communication Studies, she began her career at Travelex Insurance Services. In her time at Travelex, she went from managing a call center, to facilitating new hire onboarding, to becoming Marketing Manager. All of these roles displayed Meghan’s exceptional communication skills.

In January of 2016, she transitioned into non-profit administration. Meghan had always admired Planned Parenthood’s commitment to providing nonjudgemental care to everyone who walked through their doors. When Omaha Public Schools decided to update their sex education standards after 30 years in 2015, Meghan became an advocate for change through the platforms available to her and the group CHEER (Comprehensive Health Education & Equal Responsibility). Her Letters to the Editor on the subject were published both in the Omaha World Herald and Lincoln Journal Star.

Since the summer of 2014, Meghan has volunteered at Omaha Girls Rock where she enjoys empowering young performers as a Band Coach. The band Snot, who she helped coach in 2014, had the honor of playing the song they composed at camp entitled ‘Snot (Believe in Yourself)’ at the Maha Music Festival in front of thousands of adoring fans - including their biggest fan, Meghan.

Ensuring access to reliable education is significant to Meghan because she believes it is essential to growing and thriving as a human being. Whether it be learning about female-driven music during a Herstory/Ourstory workshop at Omaha Girls Rock camp, or how the Reproductive Justice framework can (and should) be applied to just about every facet of our lives, Meghan believes in the intrinsic value education offers.

Alex Garrison

Business Analyst/Technical Writer, Nelnet Diversified Solutions

PHOTOAlex Garrison is an I.T. professional who specializes in documentation and knowledge management.

Alex grew up in Wyandotte County, Kan., and graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2011. She worked as a newspaper reporter in Lawrence, Kan., before moving to Omaha in 2013. Shortly after moving to Omaha, she began working at Metropolitan Community College and has worked as a staff member and part-time instructor at MCC’s Elkhorn, South, Fort Omaha and online campuses. She also has also worked for Election Systems & Software, where she grew her knowledge and interest in voter registration and the confluence of civic engagement and technology. She joined Nelnet Diversified Solutions in August 2017.

Outside of work, Alex is an active volunteer. After leading an Omaha tech meetup for two years, she transitioned her focus to grassroots activism and work to increase voter registration and turnout. In early 2017, she was one of the core organizers of the Women’s March on Omaha and also began volunteering with the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha. She currently serves on the board of LWVGO, where she works on diversifying and modernizing membership and member engagement. She also spends free time doing door-to-door canvassing for progressive candidates.

Alex lives in downtown Omaha with her fiance, Jeff, and their cat, Buddy. She enjoys reading, travel, standup comedy and asking folks if they’d like help getting registered to vote.

Scott Hahn

Associate Attorney, Hightower Reff Law

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Scott V. Hahn is an Omaha, Nebraska native and 2006 graduate of the Creighton University School of Law. Scott clerked at Legal Aid of Nebraska and the Creighton Legal Clinic during law school, then after graduation at Legal Aid of Nebraska’s Omaha office. In the fall 2008 he became the Client Attorney at the YWCA-Omaha, now the Women’s Center for Advancement. While at the WCA Scott specialized and worked almost primarily in providing pro bono legal services to survivors of domestic violence/sexual assault. Aside from being the sole attorney for the WCA’s clients, in March 2014 Scott partnered with private attorneys to begin a monthly pro se WCA Legal Clinic. During the Summer 2013, he led the WCA’s efforts to become a Board or Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) recognized social service’s agency. Since its recognition the WCA has also provided immigration legal services to undocumented survivors needing to secure legal status in the United States. Since September 2015, Scott has been an Associate Attorney at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, which specializes in Divorce and Criminal Law.

Scott is an active member of the Omaha and Nebraska State Bar Associations (NSBA), Chair of the Limited Scope Representation Section of the NSBA, and an alumnus of the NSBA’s Leadership Academy. He is also a member of the Robert M. Spire American Inns of Court, and volunteers some of his spare time to his Omaha Suburban Rotary Club. In his spare time, Scott loves traveling, good books and movies, sports and long walks. In January 2016, Scott had the privilege of having a front row seat to hear President Barack Obama speak at the Baxter Arena at the University of Nebraska Omaha, and the opportunity to thank the President for his service to the country as he walked the rope line. 

Aaron Lockee

Program Manager, OneWorld Community Health Centers

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Aaron Lockee is the Program Manager for OneWorld Community Health Centers at the Learning Community Center of South Omaha (LCCSO). The LCCSO’s mission is to partner with parents of young children to help them learn English and improve their parenting skills so they can more effectively interact with their children’s schools and community.

Aaron is an Omaha native and a graduate of Mount Michael Benedictine High School. He went on to Rockhurst University where he earned his English and Spanish degree as well as his MBA while working as an Admission Counselor. Aaron then worked at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice where he learned about issues on health and social justice disparities while helping students prepare to be immersed in different cultures and languages.

Aaron loves to travel and meet people from different places and cultures. The desire to connect with other people motivated him to learn Spanish and live in Spain as well as Serbo-Croatian to better know his wife Marijana’s family. Helping people achieve their maximum potential is one of Aaron’s drives, which is not possible without the input and commitment from the communities we serve.

Vaneese Morris

Housing Navigator, Heartland Family Service

PHOTOVaneese Morris is a human services professional with over eight years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors. She is currently a Housing Navigator at Heartland Family Service, where she works to transition individuals and families affected by domestic violence from emergency shelters to safe, stable, permanent housing. Prior to her current position, Vaneese held positions at Nebraska Department of Labor, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and Community Alliance. She is also a parenting lifestyle digital content creator, and editor of the site, AsToldbyV.com, where she explores young family life as a busy, working mom.

A Mississippi native and on again, off again Nebraskan, Vaneese permanently relocated to Omaha in 2009. She has a bachelor’s degree from College of Saint Mary and is pursuing a Master of Science in Education degree at University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Vaneese is especially passionate about racial and gender inequality, specifically their correlation with negative socioeconomic conditions and unequal access to opportunity. She serves on the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals Community Service committee and volunteers at the Literacy Center of the Midlands. She enjoys reading, traveling, working on DIY projects, and spending time with her daughter and husband. One of her favorite pastimes is attending shows at the Orpheum Theater and Holland Center.

Jonathan Renteria

RWC, Student, Community Advocate, Entrepreneur, U.S. Cellular

PHOTOJonathan Renteria is a leader in the community, advocating for people who have been left behind by the political process. He is currently a Fellow at the Startup Collaborative working on a startup focused on getting young people engaged in the political process and is working to get people that represent their interests elected into office.

He has been involved in Young Nebraskans in Action (YNA), a leadership development organization under the Heartland Workers Center (HWC). YNA has been involved in advocating on behalf of people living in poverty, those that lack proper representation in local government, as well as DACA youth that rely on protections afforded to them by the federal government, in the hopes of identifying leaders in the community that can help enact change at the local level. Jonathan was raised in poverty, so he understands what it takes to create an ecosystem where we as a city invest in our young people and see the fruits of those investments manifest themselves in leaders that enact change much more quickly than any politician could ever be elected. It takes a village to raise an individual that is ready to take on the responsibility of representing their neighbors. Jonathan hopes to learn how to identify those leaders and help them hone the skills that will make them more effective in their leadership and win the long-term battle of advocating on behalf of their progressive ideals.


Eli Rigatuso

Video Producer/Director II, Bellevue University

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Eli Rigatuso is an Omaha, Nebraska Native who identifies as a queer Two Spirit, Native American, and transgender man. An artist, photographer, and video producer/director, Rigatuso has more than 25 years of experience in his field. He has owned and operated a video production company since 1995 and has work experience in television, radio, digital and social media. Eli has used his voice as on-air talent, to help move the needle toward more inclusive spaces! As a public speaker and facilitator Eli loves to help organizations and local businesses create open and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ people.

An outspoken Equal Rights Activist who has served his community in a variety of ways since the mid 90’s Rigatuso was instrumental in raising funds for the Campaign against 416 in early 2000. Eli has also served on the board of Heartland Pride, .a local 501c3 nonprofit which hosts The Pride Festival in Omaha.

Currently working full-time at Bellevue University, Eli spends most of his free time on ‘Speaking of Happy’ which is a website he created to share the stories of people living in the Midwest who identify as LGBTQ.

Eli also hosts a podcast and writes a blog sharing his personal journey as a transgender man navigating his transition both personally and professionally and is also in the process of writing his memoir. His current artistic venture is working on a project he hopes will challenge our perception of the gender binary. The project consists of a series of self-portraits with only subtle differences that will challenge the viewer's personal concept of what is male and what is female. He hopes by challenging the concept of the gender binary he will pave a pathway to greater acceptance of the gender spectrum. Eli is determined to make a difference in his community.

Diana Rogel

Family Support Worker, Beneficial Behavioral Health Services

PHOTODiana is daughter of immigrant parents and is a second generation Mexican and Salvadorian American. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Diana sought to build roots in Omaha, NE.

Soon after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Diana began working as an Outreach Associate at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she focused her efforts in public health, social justice, and education. While continuing her work in education and outreach, Diana fell in love with positively impacting families and sought to enrich other’s lives with service. Currently, Diana works for Beneficial Behavioral Health Services, where she assists parents in learning new skills to regain custody of their children. She advocates for parents and helps find community resources to help support them through their difficult, yet critical time for rebuilding. Diana also has a fervor for supporting local policies that improve the lives of Latino families, which has brought her to participate in the Nebraska Democratic Party. Presently, Diana is the interim secretary for the Latinx Caucus.

Diana is the mother of two beautiful children, ages 6 and 5; Malia and Isa. It is her belief, that it takes a village to produce remarkable people, and it is for that reason that Diana works hard to pave a bright future for her children and community.

Larissa Sanon

Health Sciences Program Coordinator, Creighton University

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Larissa Sanon moved to the United States at eleven years old from Port au Prince, Haiti. She lived on the East coast for most of her life until moving to Omaha, NE in 2010, to attend the College of Saint Mary.

With a background in Applied Psychology, Human Services and Business Leadership, Larissa gracefully leads a life of passion and fortitude. She is a mother of a beautiful daughter and currently serves as the Health Sciences Post-Baccalaureate Program Coordinator at Creighton University. For the past 2 years she has also served as the Professional and Personal Development chair for the Urban League of Nebraska Young professionals.

The motto that Larissa lives by: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” - Maya Angelou

Erik Servellon

Election Board Coordinator, Douglas County Election Commission

PHOTOBorn in Los Angeles to Salvadorian parents, Erik is a first-generation Latino-American who has affectionately called Omaha his home, since he was 11. A graduate of Omaha Central, Erik never considered leaving Nebraska and earned both his Bachelors of Art in Political Science and Master’s of Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Less than month after earning his Master’s, Erik deployed to Afghanistan with the Nebraska Army National Guard as a Flight Medic Sergeant. A formative experience in many respects, this deployment taught Erik the value of human life, what it means to be a leader, and the need for high-quality public servants in all levels of government. Equipped with these lessons, Erik returned home in April of 2017 with two things: a decision to run for public office and a distinctive desire to continue to serve.

A political and public servant newcomer, yet a gifted orator who exudes passion and authenticity, Erik quickly gained the support of many community and political leaders. Less than six months after coming home, Erik was appointed to the Board of Directors for both the Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership and Metro Young Latino Professionals Association; became a founding Board Member of the Nebraska Unity PAC; was a speaker at the annual Nebraska Democratic Party Morrison-Exon Fundraiser dinner; and launched his political campaign for a council seat with the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties. A true believer in the power of public education, Erik believes that expanding the early childhood and family learning programs within the Learning Community will help close the achievement gaps in our area schools. Beyond public education, Erik strongly advocates for Veterans’ rights, immigrant and refugee rights, and empowering our economy through investment in peoples’ health, well-being, and higher education.

When Erik is not fighting the good fight, he spends time with his wife Sam, their two dogs, Ripley and K.B., and two cats, Bats and Alexi. Erik enjoys political discourse, riding his motorcycle, watching college football, and playing video games. Erik currently works for the Douglas County Election Commission as the Election Board Coordinator.

Jaymes Sime

Executive Director, MICAH House

PHOTOJaymes serves as the Executive Director of MICAH House, an emergency family homeless shelter located in Council Bluffs, IA. Jaymes holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management. Jaymes has built his career in positions with the University of Northern Iowa, The Job Foundation, Iowa Department of Human Services, and Boys Town.

In addition to his professional and educational background, Jaymes is active in many different efforts in the Council Bluffs and Omaha metro area. He is a Commissioner for the Council Bluffs Housing Authority, Secretary of the Pottawattamie County Emergency Food and Shelter Board and he is active with the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless, participating in the Provider Council. Jaymes has previously held board positions with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Greater Omaha and Prevention Means Progress. Jaymes is a member of Impact Council Bluffs and is a graduate of Leadership Council Bluffs and the Nonprofit Executive Institute through the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands. Jaymes recently started volunteering with Defy Ventures.

For his work in the community Jaymes was recognized as one of the Omaha Jaycees' Ten Outstanding Young Omahans for 2017. Jaymes has also been selected as a 2017 Midlands Business Journal 40 under 40. Nationally, Jaymes was recognized in the Top 100 for the John Maxwell Transformational Leadership Award in 2017, the only individual from Nebraska or Iowa with a Top 100 recognition. Jaymes has a passion for helping others and has spent the last ten years in various systems advocating on behalf of people.

Brittany Strong

Native Indigenous Centered Education (NICE) Teacher/Advocate, Omaha Public Schools

PHOTOBrittany Strong is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada but has lived in the Omaha area for the last five years. Brittany received her Bachelor’s in Secondary Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and then completed her Masters of Public Administration at Bellevue University. Brittany was working towards her Master’s in Education Administration and Leadership, earning 18 credits, at the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) but decided to not continue with the program and follow her passion of continuing work with young adults.

Currently, Brittany is working as a teacher and advocate for the Native Indigenous Centered Education (NICE) Program at Omaha Public Schools, where she works with students at Benson, Bryan and North High School. Brittany is passionate about making sure her students have access to opportunities, as many of her students face many educational barriers. In addition to helping students break down educational barriers, Brittany strives to provide cultural experiences and access to cultural knowledge for her students. Through NICE, Brittany works with the Native Studies Department at the UNO, the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition (NUIHC) and local artist Steve Tamayo to provide cultural experiences and knowledge for students. Brittany and her students also have completed multiple service learning projects in conjunction with UNO, one that went on to be presented to the employees at the Omaha Public School’s Teacher Administration Center (TAC) and the Minnesota Humanities Professional Development class for Omaha Public Schools.

When Brittany is not working in the school buildings, you can find her furthering her education by attending different workshops that focus on historical trauma and racial equality. Brittany also likes working on projects such as Woven: grounding feminist thoughts and practice, where she co-curated INDIGENIST with Dr. Gina Robbins, which focused on Indigenous women in Omaha who advocate for education, health and wellness. When Brittany does have free time, she likes to spend it with her husband, Billy and her three puppies, Donald, Dixie and Tiger.

Val Vilott

Program Officer, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation

PHOTOVal Vilott is a recent transplant to Omaha from Washington, D.C. Currently serving as a Program Officer for the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Val has held communications, organizing, and policy roles at a variety of national organizations, including the National Women’s Law Center, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, and the Feminist Majority Foundation. Most recently, she worked as a communications and campaign strategy consultant at M+R, helping nonprofits and foundations develop winning advocacy and public engagement campaigns. Val also served in a volunteer capacity for 4 years as the Board President of the D.C. Abortion Fund (DCAF), a direct service organization working to connect low-income women to financial resources. During Val’s tenure, DCAF grew from a shoestring organization run by a handful of volunteers into an organizational powerhouse with a budget of over $250,000 and a volunteer corps of 100+ people. Val has been honored for her leadership in the abortion rights movement multiple times, including receiving the 2016 Young Woman of Achievement Award from the Women’s Information Network, the 2014 Washington Women of Excellence Award in Public Health from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and the 2012 Champion of Choice Award from NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Val graduated with honors in 2008 from The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and a minor in Women’s Studies. She completed a semester of her studies at Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico, where she conducted field research on public and private social services for women and families.

In her spare time, Val enjoys starting DIY projects (and rarely finishing them), hosting theme parties for special occasions, and is an amateur calligrapher.

Kacie Ware

Senior Credit Analyst, U.S. Bank

PHOTOKacie Ware is currently a Senior Credit Analyst and Officer at U.S. Bank. Kacie’s education background includes a B.A. in Mathematics and a Certificate of Entrepreneurial Management from the University of Iowa (Go Hawks!) and a MBA from Midland University. An accidental banker, like many in the profession, Kacie worked her way up after starting as a Teller. Her day to day activities include analyzing small business financial statements and evaluating loan opportunities for new and existing clients.

Kacie enjoys public speaking at work and for local organizations, such as the Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center (MOWBC). Past topics include confidence tricks for Women in Business and making change easier to manage. Her background in mathematics is regularly on display in various forms, such as excel templates, number puzzles, and accounting.

Kacie has become more engaged in politics, attending various town halls and protests. She is passionate about income and racial inequality, women’s reproductive rights, and affordable access to healthcare. Kacie is looking forward to building relationships with the new and existing progressive leaders in the NLC community. Kacie is working to develop strategies to discuss the challenging and contentious issues we are facing today, and hopes to offer her investigative thought process in return.

Personally, Kacie loves to cook for her family, enjoys sand volleyball, and takes a break from her analytical career by painting, both at home (she created a Pac Man mural in her son’s nursery) and is a face painter for events and parties in the metro area.