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 majors in political science, history and journalism. 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. She was recognized by the University of Nebraska as Distinguished Alumni in 2018 and selected to participate in its Master’s program in 2019.
Lynn’s commitment to community service has included serving in leadership roles on numerous boards, including several statewide organizations. She currently serves on the executive board of the Mari Sandoz Society, as a board member for the Center for People in Need, as treasurer of the Western History Association, as a board member for the Nebraska Community Foundation, and as an instructor for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
Colleen Adam is a longtime Hastings resident with deep experience in the nonprofit sector, particularly in fundraising. She chaired the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, served on the board of directors for the Mary Lanning Healthcare Foundation and Hastings Museum, chaired the Humanities Nebraska major gifts committee, served the Hastings College Community Partnership Campaign, and chaired the Hastings First Presbyterian Church Foundation. She has been involved in several capital fundraising campaigns, including efforts for the Central Community College Foundation, Hastings Museum, the Hastings YMCA and the Lark.
Colleen holds a master’s degree in audiology and a bachelor’s degree speech pathology. She worked for years as a clinical audiologist at Boys Town and an instructor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She later served the American Medical Association Alliance in a variety of roles.
Commercial Real Estate Broker, OMNE Partners
Jeff Beck is a lifelong Omaha resident and can trace both sides of his family history back to the early days of Nebraska. His paternal side came to the Omaha area in 1868. His maternal side arrived in Knox County in 1878, originally settling in the village of Bazile Mills. His parents met while working together at the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha in the 1970s.
Jeff earned his MBA at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Creighton.
In his 20-year career, he has served at the financial helm for many for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Currently he serves as vice chair on the board for the Union for Contemporary Arts, and he’s on the finance committee for Film Streams. Previously, he served as treasurer for the Maha Music Festival. He works as a licensed commercial real estate broker at OMNE Partners.
Former Nebraska Secretary of State
John Gale was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a fifth generation Nebraskan. Graduating from Omaha North High School, Gale received his bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and his law 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 and commissions.
Executive Director, Women’s Fund of Omaha
As executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, Jo Giles 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, helping them participate more fully in the public policy advocacy process. She is also an award-winning media relations professional and journalist. She was a television reporter and 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.
School Counselor, Minatare Public School District
Maricia Marquez grew up on a small farm right outside of Scottsbluff. She attended Scottsbluff High School, where she discovered a passion for journalism and writing. Maricia attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was a member of the Mexican American Student Association, Multicultural Students in Media and the Melvin Jones Scholars. She also served as a mentor for the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy.
In 2018, Maricia obtained her Master’s of Science in Education through the University of Nebraska at Kearney and became the Multicultural & International Student Support Director at Western Nebraska Community College. Today she is the School Counselor at Minatare Public School District.
Maricia is a co-founder of the nonprofit organization Empowering Families, which seeks to empower local Native American and Hispanic families through education, civic engagement and resources.
Andy S. PollOck
Partner, Rembolt Ludtke LLP
Andy Pollock of rural Seward County is a partner with the Rembolt Ludtke law firm with offices in Lincoln and Seward. Pollock’s primary practice is government relations and lobbying. In the past few years, he has led efforts to reform telecommunications and broadband laws and regulations so that competition can accelerate infrastructure deployment in rural areas.
Pollock also dabbles in history and creative writing. Growing up on the south side of Lake McConaughy, Pollock had few neighbors, but a big playground and a view of the Nebraska Sandhills beyond the reservoir. He and his wife Kris have four children.
Executive Director, Metro Omaha Medical Association
Carol Wang is the Executive Director of the Metro Omaha Medical Society after having
spent a career as a journalist. She worked as a newspaper reporter before moving to
television news in Topeka, Wichita, Dallas and finally as the evening anchor at KMTV in Omaha, where she earned several awards for her reporting.
She’s an active volunteer in the community, serving on the Aksarben Women’s Ball Committee, the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Board, advisory committees for the Omaha Public Library Foundation, OneWorld Community Health Centers, and Omaha Performing Arts. She’s also been recognized for her volunteerism, being named one of the Ten Outstanding Young
Omahans. Most recently she was selected for the Mavis Bock Leadership Award from the Omaha Public Library Foundation.
Editor Emeritus, 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.
In 2012, Kent was inducted into the Nebraska Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was honored with the Nebraska Press Association’s Master Editor-Publisher Award and 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 president 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.
In semi-retirement, he has also served as the grants and contracts director for Northeast Community College in Norfolk.