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Published:  July 20, 2020

“This is a pivotal moment for our country,” said Dr. Randal Pinkett, CEO and Co-Founder of BCT Partners.  “If we work together, as the Network says, we can transform the country and transform Omaha.”

Three years ago, Damita Byrd and Willie Barney of the Empowerment Network and WDB Resultants worked with Dr. Pinkett & Dr. Jeffrey Robinson of BCT Partners to convert their bestselling book, “Black Faces in White Places,” into a year long curriculum and cohort.  The response and results have been overwhelmingly positive.

Pinkett is no stranger to Omaha.  He has been a featured keynote speaker and strategic partner with the Empowerment Network for the past five years.

“Omaha is like a second home for me,” said Pinkett.  “The Redefine the Game Institute is expanding nationally, especially with the racial equity and diversity issues facing our country, but it started in Omaha in partnership with the Empowerment Network, WDB and BCT Partners.”

One of the goals of the program is to help facilitate the movement of African-Americans into leadership positions within corporations, organizations and to the next level with entrepreneurial endeavors.  Over half of the original participants have received promotions or moved into new positions that are more aligned to their purpose and life mission.

The program has captured the attention of local and national media.  Julie Cornell, co-anchor for KETV Channel 7 in Omaha, featured the Redefine the Game Institute on Thursday, July 16th in a 2 minute news story.  Cornell was so intrigued and impressed by the program and the results that KETV decided to dedicate a 30 minute Chronicle edition to it on Sunday, July 19th.

The special segment includes interviews with Dr. Pinkett and two graduates of the program, Maurice Kimsey II, an Electrical Engineer with OPPD, and LaKeisha Gatson-Dunham, a Senior Director with Union Pacific.

“Redefine the Game can be whatever you need it to be,” said Kimsey.  “The program takes high potential African-Americans and helps them grow in managerial and leadership skills.”  In his interview, Kimsey focuses on building trust and creating pathways and pipelines for African-Americans.

“The group process allows you to learn strategies from others in different sectors and organizations who are like you that have similar experiences,” said Gatson-Dunham, who started with Union Pacific right out of college and has been promoted to Senior Director of Commercial Strategy and Pricing.  Gatson focuses on common voice, strategies and the classroom perspectives brought by different personalities.

Now headed into its third cohort, Redefine the Game works with African-American professionals, community leaders and entrepreneurs to maximize their gifts and strengths, enhance their leadership skills, build their network and advance their careers, businesses and communities.

“I believe it is more important now, than ever before, to teach black business professionals how to organize, strategize, network, plan and create a successful career plan,” said Damita Byrd, Sr. Director for Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at BCT Partners.

Applications for the 3rd cohort are open until July 31st.  To learn more or to apply:  Redefine the Game Application

Here’s the link to the 2 minute news story:  Redefine the Game Story

Here’s the link to the 30 minute Chronicle story:  RTG Chronicle

The Redefine the Game Institute is part of the Empowerment Network‘s Advance Omaha Racial Equity and Diversity initiative in partnership with BCT Partners.  To learn more more:  Advance Omaha

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Keith Station appointed as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager for City of Omaha

Published:  July 25, 2020

Mayor Jean Stothert has named Keith Station to lead the City of Omaha’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy.

“Keith is an experienced and respected leader,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “His lifelong connections to Omaha, our community partners and our business community will be a great asset to our focus on building a more inclusive city government and City.”

On June 25, Mayor Stothert announced a series of actions to solicit public input, and develop a strategic plan for diversity, equity and training throughout city government.  Station’s responsibilities will include these initial steps:

  • Name a Community Advisory Board
  • Name a City Employee Advisory Board
  • Develop a strategic plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in city government
  • Expand diverse representation on city boards and commissions
  • Expand racial diversity in all departments including police and fire departments
  • Complete mandatory bias training for all city employees

Station is currently the Director of Business Relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions.  He has experience in employment, fair housing, bias training and education, strategic planning, non-profit administration, and volunteer work.

“I can’t fully describe how much of an honor it is to be able to serve my community in this role.  I’m thinking of so many family, friends, mentors and colleagues who have contributed to helping me prepare for this moment,” said Station.  “Working to help make the City of Omaha a more equitable community for all of its citizens is the opportunity of a lifetime. I am grateful to Mayor Stothert for entrusting me with this awesome duty, and I am excited to meet my new colleagues, and to get to work!”

Station holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Masters  Degree from Indiana University-Bloomington.

Station will start on September 7.

Source:  Press Release, City of Omaha

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Dr. Sheritta Strong named as Director of Inclusion at UNMC, reporting to Chancellor Gold

Published:  July 25, 2020

Effective July 1, Sheritta Strong, M.D., became the director of inclusion at UNMC, reporting to Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

Dr. Strong, an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Psychiatry, became director of inclusion on an interim basis on Feb. 1. She now takes the role on a permanent basis.

Dr. Strong took over the new position, designed to help UNMC meet and expand its goals in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, at a time when the nation as a whole was continuing to come to grips with the longstanding effects of structural racism.

As protests were held over the deaths of Black men and persons of color — including George Floyd in Minneapolis and James Scurlock and Zachary Bearheels in Omaha — Dr. Strong was working with campus leaders and the UNMC community to foster a more inclusive and welcoming environment that is receptive to the changes required to increase diversity, equity and inclusion.

“This is a pivotal moment in the history of race relations in the United States,” Dr. Strong said. “With initiatives such as a leadership listening sessions, campus participation in the nationwide ‘White Coats for Black Lives’ event, creating this position and prioritizing inclusive space on campus, UNMC has shown it is open to being part of a positive change. I could not step away from this position now, when so much still needs to be done and so many people at UNMC are working hard to be part of making things better for the entire community.”

Dr. Strong said she has been asked multiple times about where to start.

“To begin having these tough conversations about racism and inclusivity, I recommend the resources from the McGoogan Health Sciences Library,” she said. “To further these conversations, we all must have a basic understanding of the forces in place that oppress marginalized groups in our society.”

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., who appointed Dr. Strong in February, said the campus already has benefited from her work.

“Dr. Strong is an accomplished and passionate leader, and UNMC is fortunate to have her in this role,” he said. “We are a health care leader in the community, the state and the nation, and we need to lead in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as attacking health disparities in the communities that we serve. Dr. Strong is well positioned to help UNMC become a more inclusive campus that provides serious medicine and extraordinary care tothe people of the entire community.”

Source:  Press Release, UNMC

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Welcome to Omaha: Vanessa Elkins-Rogers, Vice-President for Enterprise Procurement at Mutual of Omaha

Published:  July 24, 2020

Revive Omaha welcomes Vanessa Elkins-Rogers to Omaha!

Elkins-Rogers was named the new Vice-President for Enterprise Procurement at Mutual of Omaha in 2019.

Vanessa Elkins-Rogers is an exceptional senior-level manager of global procurement. She has more than twenty-five years of successful procurement experience, and has held leadership roles in vendor, materials, and marketing management, strategic sourcing strategy, project management, supply chain, accounting and supplier diversity.

She is committed to leading the operation to profitable growth while expanding global operations and sales. She has been instrumental in transforming companies into global consulting and diversified services organizations while achieving success via leveraging their supplier network as a tool and mechanism to positively impact their bottom-line.

In May 2003, Vanessa was profiled in the “Industry Focus” of The Network Journal Magazine gaining national recognition and sparking a speaking and training career – being noted as an industry expert. As an industry leader, she is known for her vast knowledge of global procurement and her exceptional teaching ability. She regularly engages audiences at conferences and workshops nationwide on various aspects of management and procurement, including SCOPE and ProcureCon.

Throughout her career, Vanessa has held positions of leadership with such noted companies as The Coca Cola Corporation, Home Depot, Johnson Controls, Inc., and Bell South to name a few, where she has applied her expertise and knowledge of procurement. She started her procurement career with in Atlanta as Senior Manager of Procurement and Materials Management. During her tenure there she successfully recovered seven million dollars in missing inventory which resulted in an annual cost savings of five hundred ninety thousand dollars.

In other accounting, management and procurement roles, Vanessa has developed outstanding analytical, problem solving, leadership and strategic thinking skills. She offers a management style that is second to none. She has an entrepreneurial spirit as she enjoys the opportunity to develop and create solutions.

Vanessa encourages innovative thinking and exhibits receptiveness to unique approaches in problem solving and issue resolution. As a person of great integrity, she understands that communication is the key to running a successful department, and believes in honest and open communication.

In 2007, Vanessa also began her second career in education. She is a part-time professor at DeVry University in the College of Business Administration where she provides instruction primarily to graduate students with a focus on the Project Management & Supply Chain curriculum.

Vanessa is an alumnus of the well-respected Kennesaw State University where she successfully obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and a Master of Business Administration Degree with special emphasis in Executive Leadership. She has plans to complete her doctoral degree at Kennesaw’s prestigious Michael J. Coles school of Business.

While living and working in the Greater Atlanta area, Vanessa became a prominent member of the community – working with organizations such as The American Cancer Society, being appointed to the Board of Directors for the East Point Unit, The American Red Cross, The American Heart Association, Big Brother/Big Sister, and The March of Dimes. Vanessa is a phenomenal fundraiser often winning awards for her efforts and she is consistently recognized annually as a pace setter.

She served as a member of the Clark Atlanta University’s Leadership Development Board, the Governance Board of Scholars Academy and Boys-2-Men of honor. Vanessa has also attended Ben Hill UMC for over 20 years having served as a Sunday school teacher. Vanessa is a firm believer that the key to a successful team is your most valuable asset – “People”.

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