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This is a regular feature where we spotlight NLC Omaha alumni. The NLC Omaha family is a diverse group with a wide range of experiences in business, politics, government, non-profits, entrepreneurship and more. Today, we’re catching up with 2016 NLC Omaha fellow and current board member and Curriculum Vice Chair, Molly McCleery.
Molly is the staff attorney for the Health Care Access Program at Nebraska Appleseed in Lincoln. She represents clients in class action and impact litigation and engages in legislative and administrative advocacy on issues related to Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and public assistance programs. She is passionate about ensuring that all Nebraskans have access to quality, affordable health care.
Prior to working at Appleseed, Molly had a judicial clerkship in northwest Iowa, where she worked with judges on both civil and criminal cases. Originally from central Iowa, Molly graduated with a B.A. from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and received her law degree from Creighton University School of Law. Outside of work, Molly enjoys live music, reading, traveling, knitting, and playing fetch with her dog, Estes.
Why did you originally decide to apply to the NLC Institute?
I wanted to meet new people who are interested in creating progressive change in Omaha. I also wanted to be intentional with my time – set aside time each month to gain new skills and to discuss issues I care about with other people that also care about them.
What was one NLC Institute training that had a big impact on you – taught you a valuable new skill, opened your eyes to something you weren’t aware of before, fostered a new connection, etc.
I think most fellows would agree that the first weekend has a huge impact. It is designed to allow the fellows to form a close bond quickly and create a space where everyone feels comfortable talking openly and honestly about the issues we discuss throughout the institute. I walked away from the first weekend feeling incredibly inspired by the people that I had met and excited about the rest of the weekends.
What has NLC meant to you? What have been your most meaningful NLC experiences?
NLC is really about the people. It’s a unique experience to be able to set aside a weekend a month to discuss pressing issues with other young leaders who are passionate about doing big things and creating progressive change. I walked away from the first weekend thinking that the goals I have professionally and in the community could be even bigger. I feel lucky to have met and made connections with so many people doing inspiring things in Omaha.
How has NLC played a role in your personal or professional life?
The tools we learned during the weekends focused on communications have been extremely helpful in my work. I find myself recalling lessons from those weekends when I am trying to craft a message or convey complex legal information in a short, digestible way.
What piece of advice would you give a young person looking to make progressive change in our community?
Get to know other people in the community doing work that’s similar to what you want to do, and learn how the people doing that work got to where they are. Always be open to learning new things.
What qualities would you look for in a person considering applying to NLC Omaha?
What do you see as the future of NLC Omaha? What type of role will NLC Omaha play in the community?
I am excited about expanding the NLC family with new classes of fellows, and I would like to see NLC alums get more involved in volunteering in the community.
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