Published: November 28, 2020
Aaron Austin joined the CHI Health Midwest team during the spring of 2019. Austin has hit the ground running. His innovative approach to human resources is responsible for measurable results in the area of diversity and inclusion at CHI Health.
“When I came to CHI, the CEO Cliff Robertson told me ‘we want to reflect the community’,” said Austin. “Cliff said, ‘my challenge to the leadership team is this is important to me and we need to make this a priority’.”
“Commitment from leadership has to be the top priority,” emphasized Austin. “Leadership must be on board to make this work happen and make sure things are getting done.”
As part of his initial work, Aaron has introduced the use of candidate slates for all positions at the Director and above level. In just one year, the strategy has achieved 40% of positions having a diverse group of candidates. His work is already making an impact as leadership in the company is on its way to increasing diversity and inclusion.
Aaron shared these insights at the recent African-American Leadership Conference.
“My first thoughts were to talk about and implement candidate slate. In order to become more diverse in our leadership ranks, we need to slate.”
“Right now, we are at about 40% of our director and above positions are being slated. We are making progress as our demographics are changing within the organization. In the first year, we brought in six new diverse leaders. This year, COVID has slowed us down, but we have brought in two more leaders. In the next three years, we would like to get to 100% in our slating.”
Austin and his team are expanding initiatives to make CHI Health a more diverse organization and more closely resemble its client base and the community. The group is also working with recruitment firms that have strong records of success in identifying and selecting talented minority candidates. They are recruiting locally and nationally.
“When you talk about inclusion, you are really talking about courage,” said Austin. “You must have courage to take on this work. You must also be intentional.”
Austin also became immediately engaged in the community by partnering with the 100 Black Men of Omaha and the Empowerment Network. For the past two years, Austin has been a featured speaker at the Empowerment Network’s annual African-American Leadership Conference.
He’s also active with the Empowerment Network’s CHRO Leadership Roundtable. Austin is helping to drive change and prepare a better future for young men in Omaha through his support and involvement with the 100.
Aaron is the Division Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer of Human Resources for CHI Health and St. Alexius Health, serving 18 hospitals in 3 states. He also serves as a key member of the Human Resources Leadership Council of CommonSpirit Health, which is the nation’s largest nonprofit, Catholic health system.
Created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, CommonSpirit Health is dedicated to advancing health for all people through delivering exceptional patient care, and ensuring every person has access to quality health care.
Aaron has a real commitment to helping people develop and grow into the best versions of themselves. That is the passion that drove him into Human Resources where he felt he could make real differences in the lives of those he served.
Aaron served his country for over 20 years in the United States Navy, where he obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in Workforce Development, graduating Cum Laude. During his service, he was responsible for promotions, recruitment, leadership development, employee relations and combat information systems, Aaron retired and went to work in the banking industry. Aaron later transitioned into healthcare and later earned an MBA with a concentration in Health Care Administration, again graduating Summa Cum Laude. He has served healthcare systems across the Midwest.
Aaron is forward-thinking and accomplished, particularly in the areas of employee engagement, talent acquisition and leader development. He and his wonderful wife Janice have three adult children and seven grandchildren. When he’s not working, he enjoys family time, sports, jazz and urban ballroom dancing.
Source: Revive Omaha Magazine
April Hibbler, Business Development Specialist with Small Business Administration
Published: March 31, 2023
April Hibbler is a business development specialist in the SBA’s 8 (a) Business Development Program in Nebraska. April’s prior experience as an entrepreneur and business development consultant has strategically positioned her to truly understand and meet the needs of small business owners.
April moved to Omaha in 2022 and has hit the ground running. Her passion is helping small businesses get connected to contracting opportunities with the federal government.
“The federal government is the largest purchaser of products and services,” said Hibbler at a recent forum. “The Biden Administration wants to see more of these contracts go to small and emerging businesses, women-owned businesses, veterans and Hub Zones.”
April has dedicated her career to serving people from marginalized groups through economic integration and by combating economic injustice. April has successfully implemented and managed small-and large-scale economic and business development projects and consulting engagements in the US and Nigeria, for USAID and other public and private organizations interested in using their products and services to solve economic development problems.
In a very short amount of time, April has dedicated her time to community engagement, business development and creating awareness of the services available through the Small Business Administration. She has helped businesses work through the process of becoming certified and introduced them to other opportunities within the SBA and Nebraska Business Development Center.
“April has been a consistent presence at community events, business summits, workshops and other important activities in the community,” said Willie Barney, CEO of the Empowerment Network and owner of Revive Omaha, Revive Center and co-owner of the Carver Legacy Center. “April is really working hard to develop strong relationships in the community and takes her role very seriously in helping small businesses to maximize the training available.”
April holds a Master of Laws (LLM) in global antitrust law and economics from George Mason University, a juris doctor (JD) from Southern University Law Center, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in international strategic management from Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, and a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in international business and finance from the University of Memphis.
April values small businesses and is honored for the opportunity to use her educational and professional experience to serve small businesses interested in doing business with the federal government by helping them to navigate the process and succeed.
Leslie Smith joins Omaha Land Bank as Exec. Director
Published: March 31, 2023
The Omaha Municipal Land Bank recently announced the hiring of Leslie Smith as its new Executive Director. Smith joins the Land Bank after years working in Memphis, Tennessee, on the issues of community development and inclusive lending. Notably she launched many of the foundational programs of the Blight Authority Memphis, Inc. (BAM), a quasi-governmental nonprofit which became a full-scale operational landbank serving the city of Memphis under her leadership.
Through BAM, Smith developed and operationalized the first Land Deposit program within Tennessee, incentivizing affordable housing developments to support blight reduction efforts and promoting innovative green space reuse interventions that supported the stabilization of neighborhoods and spurred economic growth.
“It’s important for me that the community knows I’m willing to meet and talk about where the Land Bank is in the community and what our mission is so that there is a partnership for community good and investment,” said Leslie Smith, new Executive Director of the Omaha Land Bank.
The Land Bank is a catalyst for transforming distressed properties into community assets by acquiring vacant, abandoned or dilapidated properties to transform them into positive neighborhood assets. As the only organization of its kind in Nebraska, the Land Bank is a leading partner in neighborhood revitalization efforts in the Omaha community.
“As I have been transitioning out of the Executive Director Role, I have been looking back on the work we’ve done with nothing but gratitude for the opportunity to serve our community in a position that I believe sets the foundation for success for years to come,” added Shannon Snow, past Land Bank Executive Director.
“Together we created policies and systems that will forever transform the Land Bank into a tool for the strategic re-use of vacant properties and building generational wealth. These are not small tasks, and I am excited to see how this work is leveraged for greater impact in the future under Leslie’s leadership.”
The Land Bank board conducted a national search to fill the Executive Director role vacated by Snow in February of this year. “The Board is extremely excited to have Leslie given her experience with BAM, an organization that is similar to Omaha’s Land Bank,” John Heine, Omaha Municipal Land Bank’s Chair remarked.
“She has been actively involved in the National Land Bank Network & the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and her expertise will be valuable to Omaha as we continue to strategize around how the Land Bank can best serve our community. In addition to this expertise, Leslie’s professionalism give us a high level of confidence in her ability to navigate community, donor and political relationships. I don’t think we could have found a better candidate.”
As a community-centered development practitioner, Smith has previously served as a member of the Urban Land Institute – Memphis chapter, Memphis’ Orange Mound Task Force, the Tennessee Affordable Housing Coalition and Transit Coalition, Memphis’ Blight Elimination Steering Team, the Mayor’s Young Professional Council (as Vice-Chair), the Memphis Lights, Gas and Water Supplier Diversity External Advisory Board and the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals.
Now in her fourth week with the organization, Smith is looking forward to engaging with the community and learning more about their needs when it comes to purchasing lots from the Land Bank. “With a passion for improving all residents’ quality of life regardless of the zip code, serving as the Land Bank’s Executive Director will position me to engage, support, and collaborate with community practitioners to uplift every neighborhood in Omaha through growth and investment,” stated Smith.
“During my first week in Omaha a colleague was able to drive me around to some of our lots and I recognize a lot of them are located in North Omaha. “It’s important for me that the community knows I’m willing to meet and talk about where the Land Bank is in the community and what our mission is so that there is a partnership for community good and investment.”
In her new role Smith will report to the Land Bank Board of Directors and have overall strategic responsibility for the Land Bank’s staff, programs, and activities.
Background on Leslie Smith:
Leslie Smith serves as the Executive Director for the Omaha Municipal Land Bank, where she aims to lead the organization’s efforts to transform problem properties into vibrant opportunities in partnership with the community. Prior to joining the OMLB team, she worked for Truist’s Strategic Growth department, where she worked to develop strategies that drove their mortgage lending activities to support generational wealth-building and work towards closing the racial wealth gap throughout the bank’s digital footprint.
During her tenure at the Blight Authority of Memphis (BAM), she addressed multidimensional and systemic challenges, which inhibited urban renewal within the Memphis community throughout the global pandemic. Through leveraging cross-sector leadership and collaborative partnerships within neighborhoods, she was able to champion and finance BAM’s efforts to drive change at the local level.
With a passion for improving all residents’ quality of life regardless of their zip code, Smith looks to bring her national network, cross-sector expertise, and collective experience to drive momentum while addressing vacant and abandoned properties at the root.
Omaha Land Bank:
The Omaha Land Bank serves as a catalyst for transforming distressed properties into community assets. It partners with community entities focused on revitalization and affordable housing with the goal of reducing the number of vacant lots and finding suitable solutions. By driving community revitalization of underutilized areas, the Land Bank unlocks development potential, encourages economic development and enhances neighborhood growth. The Land Bank welcomes the community to engage in this work. To learn more, visit omahalandbank.org or call 402-800-1240.
David Pollock launches Code Black to bring people of color into tech
Published: January 20, 2022
David Pollock is on a mission. Driven by purpose and a clear vision to see his beloved community empowered, David is helping to bring African-Americans and people of color further into the tech industries.
To accomplish his goal, David has launched Code Black, a non-profit organization focused on fostering collaboration and sponsorship between Black and Latinx who are emerging and experienced professionals in technology.
He launched the organization in the midst of the pandemic which is a great example of his commitment to the cause. He reached out to professionals in the industry and other leaders in the community to make sure he was creating something that would be of value to others.
Pollock did the work necessary to build a solid foundation. After years of preparation, he stepped out in faith to make it a reality.
While others pulled back during the pandemic, he continued to push forward. He is also a strong believer in collaboration and team work. Others have joined in to support him with his mission. It’s a beautiful thing to see, preparation meet opportunity.
David not only believes in the importance of education, he is leading by example in that area as well. David obtained his master’s in Organizational Leadership from Bellevue University.
He is also able to speak the language of those he seeks to see empowered. David’s tech experience and certifications consist of in IBM Cognitive Analytics (Chatbot), Grow with Google (app development), Drone software developer, Software: Airsim – Unreal Engine 4 – Watson Image Classification system, Languages: Java, C++ and Python.
Before starting Code Black, David worked 3 ½ years as a Fatherhood Coordinator and 4 ½ years as a college success advisor for students of color. These experiences allowed him to gain additional insights on how he could better serve his own community.
After a successful career in coaching, mentoring and developing programs, David is now leading the way with others to create an organization where Black and Latinx in technology impact the very community that they live in. His initial focus is the State of Nebraska.
Most importantly, David is a dedicated husband and father. He and his wife are consistently engaged in work to improve their community and highly regarded in the areas of leadership development, career advancement, tech, diversity and inclusion and innovation.
David is available for community networking and for business collaboration. You can reach David at 402-515-8865 or firstname.lastname@example.org