Former Secretary of State
John A. Gale was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a fifth generation Nebraskan. Graduating from Omaha North High School, Gale received his B.A. degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and his J.D. degree from the University of Chicago.
Gale worked for the Law Department of Northern Natural Gas Company before joining U.S. Senator Roman Hruska in Washington, D.C. as a legislative assistant for two years, and he then returned to Nebraska to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Omaha and Lincoln. Gale was offered and took the opportunity to practice law in North Platte, Nebraska, for 29 years.
Active in Republican Party politics, Gale was elected Chairman of the State Republican Party in 1986 to fill a vacant term, and later served on the state campaign steering committees for U.S. Senator Dave Karnes and for U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. Gale was defeated in the GOP Third District Congressional primary by Coach Tom Osborne in 2000 and was appointed later in 2000 by Governor Mike Johanns as Secretary of State to fill a vacancy when Scott Moore resigned.
Gale was elected as Secretary of State in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, and resigned at the end of his term on January 9, 2019. As Secretary of State, Gale served as Chief Elections Officer, Chief Protocol Officer, Keeper of the Great Seal, Chief Business Services Officer, and State Records Management Officer. He also served on the State Pardons Board, State Canvassing Board, and five other state boards or commissions.
Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Omaha
As executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, Jo leads the organization’s work to address gender-based inequities in our community through collaboration that identifies, researches, and creates solutions to advance, educate and fund lasting impact. These efforts align with the Women’s Fund values—equity, bold impact, collaboration, community voice, intersectionality, bodily autonomy—and is executed in coordination with 13 full-time staff members.
Before joining the team, Jo was the Policy and Training Director for the Coalition for a Strong Nebraska (CSN), where she created training sessions for members and others in the nonprofit sector, to be able to participate more fully in the public policy advocacy process. She is also an award-winning media relations professional and journalist and was a television reporter/anchor for Omaha’s KPTM Fox 42 News.
Jo has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a bachelor’s degree in psychology and African American studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and a certificate in public health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Jo enjoys community service and is the current board president for the Omaha Public Library Foundation. She is also a member of Leadership Omaha Class 37 and 2012 recipient of the Midlands Business Journal 40 under 40 Award. In her spare time, Jo is an avid reader, enjoys running and spending time with her family, including her husband, their son, and doodle.
Retired Senior Vice President, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
Lynn Roper was born and raised in Rushville, where her parents published the Sheridan County Star. Lynn graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a political science, history and journalism major. Lynn joined Merrill Lynch in 1976 as a financial advisor when they opened the Lincoln office and also served as Resident Manager of the office for 26 years. She was recognized in her firm and industry for her career achievements and provided leadership on a national basis. Lynn retired in 2019 from her 42 year career with Merrill Lynch. Lynn was recognized by the University of Nebraska as it’s Distinguished Alumni in 2018 and selected to participate in its Masters program in 2019.
Lynn’s commitment to community service includes serving in leadership roles on numerous boards including several statewide organizations. She has served as chair of the Nebraska Environmental Trust, Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Lincoln Lancaster Commission on Women, UNL Journalism capital campaign. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Woods Charitable Fund and the University of Nebraska Foundation. She currently serves as president for the Center for People in Need, as board member of the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital and board member and treasurer of the Nebraska Community Foundation.
Editor Emeritus of the Norfolk Daily News
Kent Warneke spent more than 30 years as editor and vice president of the Norfolk Daily News before retiring from that position in 2019 and being named editor emeritus.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in journalism in 1982, he spent five years as a staff member of the Omaha World-Herald before joining the Daily News.
Kent was inducted in 2012 into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was honored with the Nebraska Press Association’s Master Editor-Publisher Award and also was inducted into the Omaha Press Club’s Journalists of Excellence Hall of Fame.
He has been extensively involved in civic leadership roles, including serving as board presidents of the Nebraska Press Association, the Nebraska District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Faith Regional Health Services of Norfolk and the Norfolk Area Chamber of Commerce. He recently completed a six-year term on the board of the Humanities Nebraska Foundation and currently serves on the board of the Nebraska Community Foundation.
He serves now as the grants and contracts director for Northeast Community College in Norfolk.