Omaha Red Carpet and Community Impact Awards Celebration

Red Carpet event features Hidden Figures and recognizes 12 local African-American leaders in STEM fields. Nearly 500 in attendance, including over 150 Omaha Public Schools students.

On Thursday, January 19, 2017, The Empowerment Network and other community partners hosted a special Omaha Red Carpet and Community Impact Awards Celebration. The event was held at Aksarben Cinema 2110 S. 67th Street, starting at 6 pm. 

The event was titled:  Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Champions. The powerful evening included a VIP reception, Red Carpet Walk recognizing African-American STEM Leaders and Innovators in Omaha, and a showing of the number one movie in the country, “Hidden Figures.” 

“Hidden Figures” is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world.

The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big. At press time, the movie had generated over $90 million at the box office.

The goals of the event were to recognize local African-Americans who are leading the way in preparing the next generation for STEM Careers and encourage African-American students to pursue careers in STEM.

The STEM Legacy Awards were presented to Gene Haynes, principal of Omaha North High Magnet School and Dr. Carol Mitchell, Professor Emeritus, Science Education – STEM, University of Nebraska-Omaha. All of the award winners were invited to walk the red carpet as they were being introduced. They received a rousing welcome and show of appreciation from the large crowd.

Another goal for the event was to celebrate National Mentoring Month in partnership with Midlands Mentoring Partnership by recognizing current mentors and identifying additional mentors to help students achieve great things in the classroom and beyond.

A VIP reception sponsored in part by ConAgra Brands was open to honorees, their families and friends and all attendees. The food at the reception received great reviews from guests and was catered by Natelina Mickels of TDC Personal Chef Services and cupcakes by Nicole Hardnett of The Cupcake Nerd.

Students, families and mentors received a free bag of popcorn and drink for the movie. And, gift bags were also provided to students by ConAgra Brands.

The Red Carpet event was presented by:  The Empowerment Network; Midlands Mentoring Partnership; Omaha Public Schools-Office of Community, School and Family Engagement; 100 Black Men of Omaha; Urban League of Nebraska; Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands; and, Omaha Public Schools Office of Economic Inclusion.


Gene Haynes
Principal, Omaha North High School

Dr. Carol Mitchell
STEM Professor and Co-Principal Investigator, UNO

Alisa Gilmore
Associate Professor of Practice for Engineering, UNL

Shonna Dorsey
Co-founder and CEO, Interface Web School

Dr. Terri Norton
Associate Professor of Construction Engineering, UNL

Anthony Williams
Asst. Principal – Park Middle School – Lincoln, NE

Karlus Cozart Sr.
Director of Inclusion, OPS; ACE Mentoring Program

Nancy Williams
Founder, No More Empty Pots

Greg Fripp
Founder and Executive Director, Whispering Roots

Nicole Mitchell
Coordinator, Whitney Young Jr. Academy,
Project Ready and Urban League of Nebraska

Shelley Henderson
National Diversity & Inclusion Manager, FIRST

Derrick Nero
K-12 Engineering Education Instructor, UNO