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New Leaders Council

Our Board

Meg Mandy, Chapter Director

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Meg Mandy is the Founding Director of New Leaders Council Omaha and has worked on local, state, and federal campaigns across the country. She was part of the team that turned Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District blue in 2008, and then went on to work as the Political Director for the San Diego County Democratic Party, where she helped elect hundreds of Democrats across the state.

Since her return to Nebraska, she has been a senior staff member of a gubernatorial campaign and has managed and consulted on a number of local and municipal campaigns and start-ups. 

In her free time, Meg volunteers in the Omaha community and with NLC nationally, is an advisor for her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, and enjoys theater, cooking, learning, and traveling.


Melissa Breazile, Vice Director

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Melissa Breazile is a Nebraska native and has called Omaha home for over a decade. She recently received her Master’s Degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in digital media from Northwest Missouri State University.

Melissa is currently Content Coordinator at the Board of Certification, a non-profit organization that offers credentialing programs for health care providers. Prior to her current position, she held research and communications positions for other Omaha non-profits; served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Armenia; and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Her community involvement includes past membership in Women’s Fund Circles, service on the Friends of Planned Parenthood board, and volunteerism with other organizations and political campaigns. In her free time, Melissa enjoys traveling, reading, and performing, having appeared recently in The Vagina Monologues and as a member of a local spoken word troupe.


Ryan Renner, At-Large

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Ryan Renner is a native of West Point, Nebraksa. He is currently the owner of ButtonBiz.com, a business he started in 2003 while a freshman in college. Since college, he has started and partnered in several other business.

Ryan attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha. While at UNO, he was president of the College Democrats. He has volunteered on and created websites for various political campaigns.

He is currently a participant in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Accelerator Program and an advisory board member to Camp Kesem at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

 

 


Noelle Obermeyer, At-Large

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Noelle Obermeyer is an Assistant Public Defender in Douglas County, Nebraska, where she practices juvenile and criminal law. Prior to working as a Public Defender, Noelle served as an Omaha City Prosecutor.

Before starting her legal career, Noelle cultivated an impressive resume of political experience, including working for Senator Bob Kerrey and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. She has had an active role in a number of campaigns, including serving as the Finance Director in the recent win for Congressman Brad Ashford of Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. She remains active in Democratic political efforts in Nebraska.

Noelle helped establish NLC Omaha because she is dedicated to building a pipeline for progressive leaders in her community. In addition to her involvement with NLC, Noelle is a mentor through Girls, Inc. and is an event chair for a local non-profit, Voices for Children.  

A native of South Sioux City, Nebraska, Noelle is a graduate of Creighton University School of Law. She is passionate about music, non-fiction, and her cat friends, Vincent & Mia.


Joe DiCostanzo, At-Large

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Born and raised in Columbus, Nebraska, the son of a small business owner and a social services worker who cared for the developmentally disabled, Joe was raised on the values of hard work and caring for others. While attending college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he worked for various campaigns and had the privilege to work at Nebraska's Unicameral Legislature. He graduated from UNL with a Bachelor of Science in Education and Human Sciences in 2008 and moved to Omaha to begin a career in teaching.

Joe is currently a resident of Benson, located in the heart of Omaha. He teaches social studies and works on developing family and community partnerships for Benson High School. Over the past seven years at the school, he has worked as a teacher, administrator, and advocate with a wide range of families, businesses, non-profits, and other government agencies to provide a high-quality experience for the students of the school.

In 2012, while working to complete his graduate degree in educational leadership from Doane College, Joe developed the My Empowerment Network for Success (MENS) Program. This program identifies academically average-performing male students who self-reported not having a consistent positive male model in their lives. With a combination of academic strategies, expanded social opportunities, and college and career exploration, the young men in the program have turned around their academic performance and discipline record and created a new hope for their lives. In February of 2015, Joe and the youngsters of the MENS Program were selected by the Harvard Graduate School of Education to present at their annual Alumni of Color Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In addition to working with students of the community in the classroom and on the fields of competition, DiCostanzo serves on the board of the Benson Neighborhood Association as the Vice President. He is also a board member of the Benson Theatre and sits as a working group member of Operation Youth Success, a collective impact effort that looks for ways to reform the juvenile justice system in Douglas County.


Patrick Leahy, Finance Chair

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Patrick Leahy was born and raised in Omaha and is currently a member of St. James Parish. He graduated from Skutt Catholic High School before getting his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with an Economics minor from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Patrick really enjoys his present position as a Campaign Manager for the Steier Group, a national public relations and development firm based out of Omaha. He has previously worked for U.S. Senator Ben Nelson as the Eastern Nebraska Field Representative. In that position he liaised with many constituent groups looking to affect federal, state, and local government issues.

Patrick was recently re-elected elected to the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board in the Omaha area. In this role, Patrick helps manage an over $80 million dollar public budget to meet the District's mission to reduce flooding, improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitats and more. He is currently working on his Master's degree at Creighton University. Patrick also serves as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Outside of his work, continuing education, military and public service, Patrick enjoys playing hockey, basketball and golf and is an avid traveler, both domestically and internationally. He rarely forgoes an opportunity to enjoy comedy clubs, concerts and theater productions.


Sarah Hanify, Fellows Fundraiser Chair

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Sarah Hanify is the Outreach Coordinator for the Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers, where she assists in training, technical assistance, and event coordination for the child advocacy centers across the state of Nebraska. She previously worked at Nebraska Families Collaborative as a family permanency specialist and also works part-time at Nebraska Medicine in the social work department.

Sarah is originally from South Dakota, but spent many years living in Iowa. She received bachelor’s degrees in psychology and public relations in 2007 from Drake University, in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduation, Sarah worked for the AmeriCorps VISTA program at Black Hills State University before enrolling the University of Nebraska at Omaha Grace Abbott School of Social Work in 2008. Sarah graduated in 2011 with master’s degrees in social work and in public administration.

Sarah enjoys volunteering, and is a member of a variety of community organizations in addition to the New Leaders Council Board, including Junior League of Omaha, the 1877 Society, the Moving Company, the Friends of Nebraska Children, Sigma Alpha Iota Women’s Music Fraternity Alumni Group, and as an adviser to the Alpha Phi Omega chapter at Creighton University. She feels lucky to have moved to Omaha and enjoys continuing to search for the best patio in town. 


Tiffany Seibert Joekel, Curriculum Chair

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Tiffany Seibert Joekel is Policy Director at OpenSky Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank focused on tax, budget, and education finance policy in Nebraska. OpenSky’s mission is to improve opportunities for every Nebraskan by providing impartial and precise research, analysis, education and leadership.

Prior to joining OpenSky, she served as Director of the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, bringing together advocates, researchers, funders, and community leaders who advocate for a great start, the Good Life, and a better future for all Nebraskans. Tiffany has also worked as a Legislative Aide for a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature and as a policy coordinator and researcher for a child advocacy organization.

Tiffany has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Justice and Peace Studies and a masters degree in International Relations from Creighton University. She currently resides in downtown Omaha with her husband, David, and dog, Liam.


Erin McArthur, Curriculum Vice Chair McArthur.jpg

Erin McArthur is the Director of Operations at the Women’s Fund of Omaha, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of Omaha-area women and girls. To do this, the Women’s Fund identifies critical issues through research, funds innovative solutions through grants, and influences dynamic change through advocacy to ensure that every woman and girl has the opportunity and ability to reach her full potential.

Erin is an Omaha native. After moving to Virginia and South Carolina for a few years for school, she returned to her Midwest roots and has never looked back. She is currently working to finish her Bachelor’s degree in non-profit management and plans to follow that up with a Master's in Public Affairs.

 


Molly McCleery, Curriculum Vice ChairMcCleery.jpg

Molly McCleery is the Staff Attorney for the Health Care Access Program at Nebraska Appleseed in Lincoln, Nebraska. 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. Molly 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, Missouri, 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.


Kim Howe, Capstone ChairHowe.jpg

Kim Howe is a partner at CoCreative Labs, providing group facilitation and consulting in collaborative decision-making and authentic stakeholder engagement. Clients include public, private, and non-profit organizations, as well as neighborhood and community groups. She is passionate about walking alongside individuals, organizations, and communities to collaboratively and creatively investigate needs, develop strategy, and activate their unique assets and strengths to take action.

Kim has over 15 years experience in adult education and community development efforts in diverse multilingual, multicultural, and economically varied contexts. She has previously worked as an English teacher and community organizer in immigrant and refugee communities in Chicago, doing small business development with victims of sex trafficking in Romania, and documenting stories of indigenous leaders in central Australia. She also previously worked in non-profit human resources, concentrating on training and development, team building, and employee engagement.

Kim holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and Teaching of English as a Second Language and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Creighton University. She teaches intercultural communication courses and participatory methods for language instructors within UNO’s International Studies Department and previously taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago City Colleges. She currently serves on the board of inCOMMON Community Development. Kim also loves treasure hunts, living room dance parties, and playing dress up, and tries to maneuver those into her work as often as possible.


JaKeen Fox, Mentorship ChairFox.jpg

JaKeen Fox is the Associate Manager at COACH Village Pointe in Omaha and the President of the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals. He has worked extensively in the field of retail management for eight years. During his first year at COACH, JaKeen alone brought in $250,000 in sales, which was a quarter of the store's business. This contribution made his store the most profitable in the company that year. Working in luxury retail at companies like COACH and Saks Fifth Avenue has equipped him with the knowledge to engage with people from all walks of life. His work in retail was a key component in launching his career in community advocacy. 

The son of an Air Force Master Sergeant, JaKeen was able to see the world and interact with it from a young age. Born in Birkenfeld, Germany, he has developed a love for a multitude of cultures, but is most passionate about his work with people of color, with an emphasis on issues affecting the black community in Omaha. During 2015, JaKeen was the volunteer committee chair for the Urban League of Nebraska. There, he developed partnerships with Inclusive Communities, the Heart Ministry Center, the Union for Contemporary Art, and Omaha North High School. JaKeen proposed and executed a young professionals of color career day that the school has asked to make an annual event. He hopes to assist Omaha in delving into what it means to acknowledge and support an intersectional black community that is filled with nuance. JaKeen is most excited about the possibility of building new relationships within Omaha and its surrounding areas and taking steps to make Omaha a safe space for all people, everyday.


Nick Arreola, Selections Chairheadshot_nick.jpg

Nick Arreola is originally from South Sioux City, Nebraska, and he moved to Omaha to attend college where he completed his BA in psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and where he was active in the UNO College Democrats. As part of the UNO College Democrats, Nick was a member of the executive leadership team. His role on this team was to track meeting attendance and topics that were discussed at the meeting. In addition, Nick helped coordinate volunteer events including fundraisers for the Nebraska AIDS Project, volunteer support on local political campaigns and events to raise funds to support the group. While working toward his degree in psychology, Nick sought additional academic enrichment by working as a research assistant in multiple labs run by two professors of psychology.

Toward the completion of his undergraduate degree, Nick worked as a student researcher for the Global Innovation and Strategy Center, a division of the Department of Defense. As part of his assignment, Nick researched ways to prepare for natural disasters in Southeast Asia, as well as co-managed a project examining legal and non-legal barriers that arise when the Government collaborates with the private sector to secure critical infrastructure in cyberspace. Following the completion of his undergraduate degree, Nick attended graduate school at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he received his Master's Degree in industrial and organizational psychology. During this time, Nick worked as a research associate at the Center for Collaboration Science where he researched group dynamics in decision making and creative cognition.

Currently, Nick is completing his Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology. His dissertation topic is looking at how the creative problem-solving ability of customer service representatives might result in improved customer service evaluations. Nick also adjuncts for the Psychology Department and Business College at UNO where he teaches personnel psychology, managerial leadership and introduction to psychology.

In addition, Nick works as a Data Mining Analyst for West Corporation, a global telecommunications firm, where he applies analytic, data-driven insights to solve business problems.


Shaun Ilahi, Selections Vice ChairIlahi.jpg

Shaun Ilahi joined Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, Inc. in 2014 as General Counsel. In addition to advising Habitat with legal compliance issues, Shaun manages Habitat’s property portfolio and is involved in creating strategic property acquisition plans. He is responsible for clearing all title issues related to a potential property acquisition. Shaun also manages and facilitates Habitat’s legal pro bono workshop in resolving legal issues that may arise during Habitat’s day-to-day operation.

Prior to joining Habitat, Shaun worked as an in-house counsel for a national corporation and then opened up his own practice that catered to the underserved. Shaun completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University and his law degree at Creighton University.

 


Beth Haubert, Communications Chairheadshot_bethh.jpg

Originally from Ohio, Beth found her way to Omaha via the United States Air Force. She served as an airborne cryptologic linguist, deploying to the Middle East and Asia.

After completing her service, she attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and earned a B.S. from the College of Architecture. She joined Omaha Code School and Big Wheel Brigade as their Director of Operations in 2014 where she has been instrumental in the rapid growth of the company and the creation of numerous valuable community partnerships.

 

 


Danny O'Byrne, Communications Vice ChairOByrne.jpg

Danny O'Byrne is a communication specialist at Bryan Health in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he helps manage communication to the organization's more than 4,000 employees. He works with various departments and the senior leader team on communication planning, manages the organization's intranet site, organizes quarterly town-hall-style forums for employees, and works to improve internal communication based on annual employee engagement survey feedback. He also works with Bryan's Public Relations and Advancement teams to coordinate internal and external communication.

Previously, Danny worked in corporate communication at Kiewit Corporation in Omaha. He also spent five years as a co-host and online media manager of Bluejay Banter, a local sports talk radio program in Omaha that airs weekly and after every Creighton men's basketball game. Additionally, he recently completed a two-year term as deputy communications director for Young Democrats of America.

Danny was born and raised in Omaha. A writer by trade with a journalism degree, he's developed an interest in progressive politics and, lately, health care policy, and he's volunteered for a handful of political campaigns over the past few years based on those interests. In his free time, he loves to read, write, watch the Chicago Cubs, and travel with his girlfriend, Mary.


Mandy Benes, Recruitment Chairheadshot_mandy.jpg

Amanda Benes is currently the Operations Manager for Fremont Machine, Inc. She has been employed with FMI since 2013 and loves working in the family business. She has been a key factor in navigating the company to successfully capitalize on the current resurgence of the manufacturing sector. As a woman in a male-dominated field, Amanda finds herself in a unique position in her profession.

During the previous five years, Amanda has been involved with the local non-profit organization, Ted E. Bear Hollow. She volunteers as a grief facilitator for pre-teens who have been impacted by the death of a family member or loved one. Amanda's own experiences have led her to seek out those who need the support of their community when surviving the loss of a loved one. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys (most of the time) rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs with her husband, Kyle, and their 1-year-old daughter, Adelaide.

In the fall of 2013, they moved to Gifford Park in midtown Omaha where they are able to enjoy all that their tight-knit community has to offer. Amanda attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha where she majored in Gender and Women's Studies.


Ruth Marimo, Recruitment Vice Chair Marimo.jpg

Ruth Marimo is a 35-year-old single mother of two who lives in Papillion, Nebraska. She has authored two books, a memoir titled Outsider: Crossing Borders, Breaking Rules, Gaining pride, which chronicles her immigration journey from her country of origin, Zimbabwe, and the complexities of being a multiple minority, and a work of fiction titled Indelicate Things. Marimo was a TEDx Omaha speaker for 2015 and has a residential and commercial cleaning business. When she is not busy raising her two kids, she speaks and fights for many causes including racial equality, immigration reform, and LGBTQ equality.

Ruth is especially interested in working on changing the mindsets of vulnerable populations through education, talking about the issues that are considered taboo but are cancers to societies -- issues like how African Americans are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic even at a time other vulnerable groups are seeing a significant decrease in infection rates, the importance of comprehensive sex education in schools, the importance of early reading among children of minorities and immigrants.

Through her worldly experiences, Ruth works hard to impart some of the knowledge she has gained with her peers back in Africa and uses the values she learned in Africa to give people here a different perspective. Ruth also enjoys the challenges that come with being a small business owner and being able to give other people an income while providing a much-needed service. Her number one job is that of raising her two children, who are aged 9 and 11, and who excel in both sports and academics. Being a voice for the marginalized is something Ruth is deeply passionate about.


Scott Packer, Alumni Chair Packer.jpg

Scott Packer is a native and life-long resident of Omaha. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a History minor. Scott went on to attend Creighton University School of Law, where he obtained his law degree, and he is now a licensed attorney.

While in law school, Scott joined the Creighton Law Review, and wrote an article on immigrant rights in Nebraska which was chosen for publication. Scott further developed his interest in immigration law by clerking with the Omaha Immigration Court. His volunteer experience includes time with the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, as well as with the Immigration Attorneys at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.




Shane Strong, Community Engagement ChairStrong.jpg 

Shane Strong is an Offutt Air Force Base transplant to Omaha. He was born in Berlin, Germany, to two U.S. Service Members and grew up in Frederick, Maryland, at the foothills of the Appalachians. After 9/11, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as an Arabic linguist.

The Air Force brought his wife and him to Omaha, and after they served four years, they decided to make Omaha their home. Shane attended Creighton Law School and graduated in 2013. He worked as a federal judicial clerk for two years and then began working at Kutak Rock as an Employee Benefits associate attorney.

 

 



Amelia Rosser, Operations ChairRosser.jpg

Amelia Rosser is a non-profit management professional with a personal mission to effect positive change in the way that people in the Omaha Metropolitan area experience poverty. Amelia has more than eight years of proven experience in communications, program development, resource management, grant writing, community outreach, and public speaking. She's a passionate leader and problem solver with experience working with first-time homeowners, refugees, the homeless population, and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Currently, Amelia is the Housing and Economic Coordinator at Catholic Charities Phoenix House. She is developing the housing program by tapping into her past experience in refugee resettlement and homeless services to increase self-sufficiency and housing stability.

Amelia relocated to Omaha in 2009 following graduation from North Central College. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and Speech Communications and is currently pursuing her Master's in Public Administration from University of Nebraska at Omaha. Amelia serves as secretary on the Hanscom Park Neighborhood Association and is co-chair of the Young Non-Profit Network of Greater Omaha Communications Committee. She is a lover of old homes, back yard gatherings around a fire pit, and family. She has run five marathons and is the founder of the Midtown Running Group. Amelia is a highly focused and driven individual with ambitious personal and professional goals.

 
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