United Way of the Midlands Welcomes New Board Members

For Immediate Release: July 2, 2021

 United Way of the Midlands Welcomes New Board Members

 United Way of the Midlands (UWM) is proud to announce the addition of eight community leaders to its board: Julie Bechtel,Theola Cooper, Jessica Heidebrecht, Carol Henrichs, Derek Leathers, Paul Maass, Joseph Sullivan III and Randy Wood. With their diverse backgrounds and expertise, these individuals will help guide the work of UWM, ensuring it is investing dollars wisely innonprofit programs that are addressing social and economic disparities and meeting community members’ essential needs. UWMalso recognizes the contributions of its outgoing board members: Mickey Anderson, President and CEO of Baxter Auto Group; JoelFalk, Regional President at UWM Bank; Alison Ingunza, Landscape Architect at HDR and outgoing Emerging Leaders Steering Committee Chair and Pam Kale, former Vice President of Nursing at CHI Health.

Julie Bechtel became President and Publisher of The Omaha World-Herald in March of 2020 and also serves asa Regional Publisher for Lee Enterprises, overseeing Iowa and Eastern Nebraska. She began her career in1987 at the Des Moines Register and joined Lee Enterprises in 1998 as circulation manager in Lincoln. Shewas promoted to operations manager there in 2000. In 2002, she became the publisher of The BismarckTribune in North Dakota and advanced to publisher of the Quad-City Times in Davenport, Iowa, in 2005.There she also served as a group leader for Lee newspapers in Muscatine, Iowa; Maysville, Kentucky, andOrangeburg, South Carolina. She was promoted to publisher and regional executive in Lincoln in 2011 andled the Lincoln Journal Star from 2011-14. In 2014, Bechtel was promoted to group publisher overseeing newspaper media operations in Illinois and Nebraska. She served as president and publisher of the Pantagraph in Bloomington,Illinois, and the Herald & Review in Decatur, Illinois. In September of 2018 she joined the BH Media Group as Executive VicePresident. Bechtel studied political science/pre-law major at the University of Iowa located in Iowa City. She also studiedmanagement and finance courses at Drake University and Simpson College. Bechtel has served on the boards of the OmahaWorld- Herald Goodfellows, various Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development groups, United Way, Lincoln Public Schools Foundation, Student Hunger Drive, Community Health Care Clinic and the non-profit Kennedi’s Kisses. She lives inPapillion with her husband, Rick. Julie and Rick have two adult sons, Matt and Nate, and three adorable grandsons.

Theola Cooper has been a Crime Prevention Specialist with the Omaha Police Department’s Northeast Precinct foreight years. She coordinates neighborhood and business watch groups and community relation activities, such as Fun in the Park, National Night Out, Cops and Bobbers, Coffee with a Cop and the Youth Citizen Education Training Program. She also assists in planning cultural events – NAACP Juneteenth Parade and Native Omaha Days. Cooper is a member of the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Chancellor’sBoard of Counselors, University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Biobank Community Board, Cinco de MayoOmaha and currently serves as President of the American Heart Association’s Together To End StrokeAmbassadors. She started a program, REALationships, to address an issue of straw purchasing – where young women are coerced into buying guns on behalf of someone who cannot pass a backgroundcheck. REALtionships aims to decrease the involvement of young women in criminal activity and equip them with skills to makeright choices in their lives, whether it is about their own health or relationship. In her free time, Cooper volunteers with the OmahaPerforming Arts, enjoys listening to live music and spending time with her friends and family. She has one son, Mychal Davis, anddaughter-in-law, Sierra.

Jessica Heidebrecht serves as a Communications Specialist at Metropolitan Utilities District. She has worked in marketing and communications for the past decade, including for Professional Research Consultants and HDR. She has served on the United Way of the Midlands Emerging Leaders steering committee for three years and is the current Chair. She is also vice chairperson for the Family Focus Federal Credit Union marketing committee. Heidebrecht has a B.A. in Communications from Southwestern College in Winfield,KS, and a M.A. in Communications from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She resides in southwest Omaha with her husband, Tyson, and their son.

Carol Henrichs has been in her role as VP of Patient Care Services at CHI Health since 2009. In her role, she is responsible for the clinical practice of staff ensuring consistency in the standard of nursing practice across all clinical settings. Her work includes orientation and competencies; quality metric development and reporting and developing and maintaining a culture of safety. She has over 35 years of clinical and management experience with the organization and plays an integral role in ensuring CHI Health Clinic patients receive the highest quality of care possible. Henrichs received her nursing degree from College of St. Mary’s in Omaha as well as her Master of Science Nursing degree in Management and Organizational Leadership. She is a member of the Metropolitan Community College Medical Assisting Board. Outside of work, Henrichs enjoys spending time outdoors, gardening or playing golf with her family. She lives in Omaha. She has three adult sons and stays busy with 5 grandchildren under the age of 2.

Derek Leathers serves as the Vice Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Werner Enterprises. A Texas native, he was raised in the Houston area. He earned a degree in economics from Princeton University, where he played center for the Princeton Tigers football team. Following graduation, Leathers embarked on a career in the trucking and logistics industry. He served as one of the first foreign members of CANACAR, Mexico’s trucking association, and helped draft the North American Free Trade Agreement. Since joining Werner Enterprises in 1999, Leathers has played an instrumental role in launching Werner’s cross-border operations in Mexico and Canada and served as president of Werner Global Logistics. As of May 2020, he now serves as the Vice Chairman, President and CEO of Werner Enterprises. Derek and his wife, Nicole, reside in Gretna, Nebraska, with their daughter, Olivia, and son, Creed. He enjoys sharing his passion for athletics by coaching softball and football. He is also very active in the local community with a particular focus on early childhood education and at-risk youth.

Paul Maas is the Chief Executive Officer of Scoular, responsible for its worldwide strategic leadership, a role he has held since joining the company in 2016. Paul is also a member of Scoular’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining Scoular, Paul served as President of ConAgra Foods’ (now Conagra Brands) Commercial Foods and Private Brands segments. Paul led the creation of Ardent Mills, ConAgra Foods’ milling focused partnership with Cargill and CHS, and served as Chairman of the Board for Ardent. Paul has a continuous improvement mindset and is passionate about his own leadership journey, as well as supporting the leadership journeys of others. In 2014, Paul wrote the foreword to Rising to Power, a guide for executives desiring to be exceptional leaders as they navigate their ascent to the highest levels of their organization. Paul also participates in the G100 Network, an organization focused on peer-to-peer learning and development. Paul is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in agricultural business. He currently serves on the College World Series Board of Directors, Omaha Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Iowa State Executive MBA Advisory Committee, and as a Trustee of The Scoular Foundation. His civic and community commitments as an Omaha citizen are significant and his commitment to his wife, Julie, of 32 years and their three children remains his life’s most important priority.


Joe Sullivan has over 20 years of experience in banking and financial services. He joined U.S. Bank in 2003 as a Relationship Manager in Commercial Banking and was named Omaha Market President in 2013. In 2018,he was named Regional President of Nebraska and Southwestern Iowa. Sullivan graduated from Creighton University with a degree in Finance, University of Nebraska Omaha with a Master’s in Business Administration and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School. Sullivan has served the community through a number of local non-profit organizations. He currently serves on the boards of the Greater Omaha Chamber, Nebraska Bankers Association and Omaha Country Club and is involved with the organizing committee for vinNEBRASKA, which is currently raising funds for the Omaha Public Schools Foundation. He is a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 32. He lives in Omaha with his wife, Dana, and daughter, Edie.



Randy Wood is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Lindsay Corporation. His previous roles have included Chief Operating Officer; President, Global Agricultural Irrigation; Vice President, International Irrigation; and Vice President, Sales & Marketing for the Americas and Australia / New Zealand. He currently leads all business activities for the global irrigation and infrastructure businesses including operations in the USA, Brazil, France, Italy, South Africa, China, Turkey, Australia, and New Zealand. Prior to joining Lindsay, Randy worked with a leading agricultural equipment manufacturer in various sales, marketing and aftermarket roles. He has spent his entire professional career in the agricultural industry. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Omaha Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Midlands and the Irrigation Association. Randy holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He lives in Omaha with his wife, Candace, and their two children, Cooper and Tessa.



Bechtel, Cooper, Heidebrecht, Henrichs, Leathers, Maass, Sullivan and Wood join the other 17 returning members of the UWM Board, which is chaired by Tim Burke, retired President and Chief Executive Officer of OPPD.

Avi Atholi

Vice President, Enterprise Data and Management

First National Bank of Omaha

Jerry Crouse

Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Tenaska, Inc.

Nate Dodge


NP Dodge Company

Jerry Crouse

Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Tenaska, Inc.

Bob Gunia

Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Group

Physicians Mutual

Ia Hagan

Women United Board Liaison

Financial Advisor

Wells Fargo

Dr. Cheryl Logan


Omaha Public Schools

Jim Richardson

Partner and Nebraska Audit Leader


Susan Courtney

Executive Vice President, Operations and Clinical Effectiveness

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska

Gail DeBoer

Retired President and Chief Executive Officer

Cobalt Credit Union

Jamie Gutierrez

CEO and Owner

Midwest Maintenance Companies, Inc.

Steve Kaniewski

President and Chief Executive Officer

Valmont Industries

Clark Ponthier

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain and Continuous Improvement

Union Pacific Railroad

Cory Shaw

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer

Nebraska Medicine

Brian Woolfolk

Head of Institutional Division

Pacific Life

Dan Waters, Board Secretary


Lamson, Dugan & Murray LLP

About United Way of the Midlands

For the past 98 years, United Way of the Midlands (UWM) has used its community-wide perspective to identify local needs that are going unseen or unmet – and how it can partner with corporate, government organizations, nonprofits and donors to tackle them. Today, UWM remains committed to uniting our community’s caring spirit to build a stronger tomorrow. It invests donor dollars in more than 100 local nonprofit programs that, together, form a circle of support around our community. These programs are addressing pressing social and economic disparities and providing the essentials families need to thrive, such as healthy food, a safe place to go after school and a stable job.

See full press release here.