insideWLC – Fall Edition, November 2014


Annette Smith Welcomes You

“Impact” is a critical concept in nonprofit service to the community. Each donor wants to know her contribution will make a difference in someone’s life, and in the overall strength of the community-at-large. It’s a goal we share with the volunteer leadership and staff at United Way of the Midlands.

Together, members of the Women’s Leadership Council have supported United Way’s commitment to addressing the Basic Needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. We’ve embraced the new United By Strength priority that aims to reduce long-term poverty by helping more people become Classroom and Workforce Ready.

Now, we are prepared to embark on a bold new WLC initiative to prepare our community’s children for school success, by strengthening programs that give them a safe place to engage in fun, healthy, and educational activities when school is out.

Specifically, our WLC group is laying the groundwork to help increase and improve the training that frontline staff members at out-of-school programs receive. We’ve found that many of the staff who work directly with children have had little or no training and lack credentials directly related to youth work.1 Research and review by Child Trends2 shows that staff training is one of six things necessary to run a successful, innovative and evidence-based youth education program – one that results in better student outcomes.

We look forward to the development and unveiling of this exciting mission in the months to come. Please watch for upcoming opportunities to learn more and to support the WLC initiative.

Thank you for the amazing support you give to the United Way. With your wisdom and continued engagement in the Women’s Leadership Council, I know we will impact our community and we will make it stronger!



United Way’s “Classroom Ready” priority is a critical piece of the puzzle in the effort to reduce long-term poverty in families and neighborhoods across our metropolitan area.

One of the ways the organization aims to increase that readiness is to refocus on, and reinforce support of, out-of-school programs that provide children a safe place to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom.

On Wednesday, November 19, the Women’s Leadership Council hosted the latest Lunch and Learn event at UNO’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, 6001 Dodge Street.

The program was moderated by Fred Schott, Program Advisor for the Daugherty Foundation and Senior Adviser to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands. Schott led a panel of local experts in a discussion of how out-of-school-time programs can impact a child’s school success, and the importance of the staff’s training to that critical process.

Joining Schott were Megan Addison, Executive Director and Gwyn Williams, Program Director for Collective for Youth, an organization that focuses on leading and supporting a network of high quality out-of-school programs that inspire children and stimulate their academic growth. Rounding out the panel was Tom Kunkel, Chief Professional Officer at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands.

Megan Addison of Collective for Youth told the audience that the employees of after-school school programs are often called upon to use skills that trained teachers would have, even though most of them are college students or part-time workers. But with skills like conflict resolution and lesson planning, those staff members can increase the quality of the children’s educational experience at the clubs. Tom Kunkel of Boys and Girls Clubs said training also has a positive effect on retaining those staff members over the longer term, which enables them to establish lasting and positive relationships with the youngsters who attend the out-of-school time programs.

The event’s lively discussion helped ignite the WLC’s initiative to strengthen the training opportunities for out-of-school staff members who work with our community’s children throughout the year.



Two of our community’s most inspiring women leaders – Marian Andersen and the late Suzanne Scott – were honored at the Tocqueville Women’s Initiative (TWI) Luncheon, held October 3 in the Conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens.

2014 United Way of the Midlands (UWM) Campaign Co-Chair and TWI member, Mary Lopez, presented Marian Andersen with the Suzanne Scott “Giving From The Heart Award,” a tribute to two extraordinary women who have dedicated their lives to service and purpose.

Asked a few years ago what motivated her philanthropic passions, the late Suzanne Scott said, “No matter what you give, give from the heart or from the soul.” Marian Andersen has done just that and, like Suzanne, is a role model for living a life rich with love and care for others.

TWI Chair Karen Hawkins welcomed guests, and UWM Interim President Shawna Forsberg applauded members for supporting the Campaign 2014 goal of raising $23.7 million. “You’re helping us continue to support Basic Needs,” Forsberg said, “as well as enable children to become Classroom Ready and empower young adults to become Workforce Ready through our new focus, ‘United By Strength’.”

Mary Lopez continued the presentation and spoke of the accomplishments of the event’s honoree, and the award’s namesake, who were both founding members of TWI and the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC). “Suzanne and Marian have lived their lives in three simple words – ‘Care, Inspire, Act,’ said Lopez. “They’ve cared about finding solutions to needs, inspired others to give back, and acted as community leaders to get things done.”

Andersen was presented a Jay Strongwater box portraying a butterfly, the symbol of the Tocqueville Women’s Initiative. Asked how Suzanne would feel about this day, Lopez said “She is smiling on us, saying, ‘Marian Andersen is the perfect choice – well done!’”

Also at the event, Karen Hawkins announced that the midday educational series hosted by the Women’s Leadership Council to promote community engagement and awareness has been renamed the “Mary C. Lopez Lunch and Learns” in honor of the WLC’s inaugural chair.


On Friday, October 10, kind-hearted folks converged across the Omaha-Council Bluffs-Bellevue metro area with one goal: to make a difference through volunteerism.

Dozens of projects later, our city has been changed for the better.

Day of Caring 2014 was a success, thanks to the local individuals, companies, organizations and nonprofits that chose to help our city’s most vulnerable.

They did so at 80 different nonprofit and civic organization projects throughout the community, from restocking food pantries to assisting with painting and gardening projects, and more.

In all, over 800 volunteers, representing 30 local corporations, joined individual volunteers in logging 2,500 hours of service that day.

Numerous projects were completed at Lakin Human Services Campus, MICAH House shelter, Open Door Mission, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, Heartland Family Service and more.

Women’s Leadership Council was part of the action as members facilitated a literacy event for families at the Visiting Nurse Association. WLC shopped for home goods for refugee apartments through Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc., and helped staff a Fall Into Literacy Fun Carnival at Girls, Inc.

Thank you for supporting Day of Caring 2014. Your commitment to change is inspiring and it is making us Community Strong.


The important work that the Women’s Leadership Council completes helps to change lives. Sharling and Arturo are a perfect example.

Realizing the importance of education and the increased opportunities that it could provide in their lives, the couple enrolled in the GED program at Latino Center of the Midlands, a United Way-funded program designed for Spanish speaking adults who want to improve their education.

The program allowed them to study for the GED exams alongside a dedicated teacher and a committed group of students.

“When I found out that I passed the exams, I felt excited, I felt complete,” says Sharling. “It is never too late to learn.” Arturo agrees adding, “A life without education is a life without opportunity.”

Now, with degrees in hand, they are eagerly preparing for the opportunities that lie ahead.

Arturo has been assisting others to prepare for the GED exams and has his sights set on college and a future career. Sharling is committed to continuing her education in the years to come and looks forward to teaching her newborn daughter that it is the key to success.

What an exciting Story of Change. Be proud of the work that you are doing to help change lives.



Chair: Annette Smith

Vice Chair: Jessica Pate

Advisor: Mary Lopez

TWI Advisory Council Chair: Karen Hawkins

Community Impact Committee Chair: Annie Bird

Programming and Engagement Committee Chair: Carolyn Diamond

Membership and Marketing Committee Chair: Sarah Waldman

Membership and Marketing Committee Vice Chair: Nancy Wolf