Based on data provided by the Douglas County Elections Commission, over 21,000 North Omaha residents cast their votes in November, the highest total in the last four election cycles.
The vote total was even higher than the number that turned out when President Barack Obama was elected.
The People of Color Convention, which was planned and hosted by a number of organizations in the Voter Registration, Education and Mobilization Collaborative (VREM), seeks to build on that momentum, not only in North Omaha, but around the city.
“We know we had a historic vote here in North Omaha. It’s vitally important that we participate at the same level in the city elections,” said Precious McKesson, president of the North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance and the host moderator for the event.
“Local elections are very important and impact all of us instantly. We want to have the same level of success going forward as we did last fall when we were able to elect people up and down the ballot.”
The event attracted current elected officials and provided the platform for candidates to share their vision, goals and plans virtually to the 300 plus in attendance through Zoom and Facebook Live.
All candidates were invited to submit videos highlighting their priorities. Participating City Council candidates for District II included Ben Gray, Jonathan Lathan and Cornelius Williams. Cammy Watkins running to represent District 3 also shared a video. Naomi Hattaway, Candidate for District 6, was also in attendance.
Mayoral candidates Jasmine Harris, Kimara Snipes, RJ Neary and Mark Gudgel also shared their platforms via video presentations.
State Senators Terrell McKinney and Tony Vargas provided important updates on a number of legislative bills that are under consideration at the Nebraska Unicameral. Both advised attendees to stay informed and engaged by connecting with them on Facebook and tracking the bills on the state website.
Brad Christian-Sallis, with Civic Nebraska reminded everyone of the importance of their vote and reaching out to elected officials.
“State Senators are state senators. They don’t just represent their district…reach out to them all,” said Christian-Sallis.
He also spoke about the importance of stopping the disenfranchisement of ex-felons by restoring voting rights immediately instead of the current two year waiting period. “We are over represented in these systems, so when we are not allowed to vote, it’s hurting our community.”
Another critical topic discussed was the number of attempts nationally to restrict voter participation. Republican lawmakers across the country, including in Nebraska, are attempting to reduce voter participation with a series of bills and legislation. It appears to be in response to the outcome of the national election and highly focused on reducing the impact of the black and brown vote in urban communities.
“The issue in 2021 is voter suppression,” said Preston Love, Jr. of 4Urban.org and Black Votes Matter.
“There are 43 states, who have legislation, over 200 pieces of legislation to suppress the vote, that includes Nebraska. In Nebraska, there are a number of voter suppression bills and others that are trying to make voting easier and more successful.”
The convention included breakout sessions where attendees could interact with key leaders and elected officials on topics including criminal justice, education and advocacy.
Breakout panelists and speakers included: Edward Ventura – Nebraska Education Association; Lisa Fricke – State Board of Education; JaKeen Fox; Chris Carithers, Douglas County Election Commission; Preston Love, Jr., Krystal Fox; Mark Foxall; Alex Mitchell; Dr. Franklin Thompson; and others.
McKesson took time to recognize the lead organizer behind VREM, Barry Thomas, and the heroic work going on behind the scenes by many organizations.
“The goal is to educate our community locally so that we are recognized as a political force to be respected and adhered to throughout,” said Barry Thomas, Political Action Chair for the Omaha NAACP.
Thomas continued, “We have too many examples, in the modern republic and throughout all history, to ignore the power possessed when the fingers realize they are actually on the same hand. And that hand is a needed part of the body. North Omaha and the Black community can become the fist that powers change for our people.”
McKesson recognized a number of organizations including the Heartland Workers Center, led by Sergio Sosa.
Gabriela Pedroza, community organizer representing the Heartland Workers Center, had this to say: “This is an amazing collaboration. We are working to get out the vote, increasing voting in areas where we see voter turnout is low. We are phone banking and we will start canvassing when the weather permits. It’s a lot of work but it pays off. If people want to volunteer, they can join our team.”
Also instrumental in planning and executing the event was Alex Mitchell, a student at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
“It’s great to see the next generation leading the way,” said Preston Love, Jr. Love has dedicated his life to engaging generations in the political process and now focuses on helping youth to understand the significance and importance of their role.
The event was presented by the Voter Registration, Education, and Mobilization (VREM) collaborative. VREM is made up of a number of organizations including UNO’s Black Excellence, the League of Women Voters, NAACP, Black Votes Matter, North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, Heartland Workers Center, the Omaha Pan-Hellenic Council, Civic Nebraska and others centered on civic engagement.
Watch the full event here.
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Atlanta Congresswoman Nikema Williams visits North Omaha
Williams was elected to serve in the district formerly held by the late legendary Congressman, John Lewis
While in Omaha, Williams stopped by Pleasant Green Baptist Church led by Pastor Brian Page for morning services, attended a rally to support congressional candidate Tony Vargas and was the keynote speaker for a luncheon sponsored by the Nebraska Democratic Party and Team Vargas on Sunday, October 30, 2022.
Williams emphasized the importance of voting and mobilizing others to vote.
“Tell your family, friends and everyone you know to get out and vote.”
Specific to Nebraska, Williams encouraged voters to support the $15 minimum wage, reject voter ID and vote for candidates that support health care, voting rights and economic advancement for all.
Her primary message was democracy is not a spectator sport. Everyone must use their voice.
“Your vote is your voice,” said Williams. “This is a vitally important time in our country. Nebraska is a crucial state. That is why I am here. You cannot sit this one out.”
Welcome Veta Jeffery, CEO of Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Revive Magazine asked some leaders to share their thoughts about the Chambers new CEO and to provide an official welcome to Omaha for Mrs. Veta Jeffery, her husband, Tony and daughter, Toni. Jeffery officially started her new role in May of 2022.
Superintendent of Omaha Public Schools
We welcome Veta to this extraordinary community. The promise of Omaha is fundamental to the success of our students and we look forward to supporting her and the vision of the Omaha Chamber for all who call Omaha home.
President of Omaha City Council
Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen met Jeffery during her first chamber of commerce board of directors meeting and was very impressed.
“We discussed the huge opportunity that exists right now to address economic development in North and South Omaha. She has a lot of experience with diversity, inclusion and ARPA fund distribution and I am excited to work with her on those issues. Great things happen when business, government and philanthropy work together.”
CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands
“I am excited about Veta Jeffery’s leadership she will bring to the Omaha community. I am looking forward to her leveraging her local, statewide, and federal relationships and experience with internships and recruitment of diverse talent to continue the Omaha community on a path towards success.”
President of North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance
“Extending a heartfelt welcome to CEO/President Veta Jeffery and her family to Omaha. I am excited to see the ideas and programs Mrs. Jeffery’s will bring to the Omaha market and look forward to working with her to ensure there is an intentional focus on economic and business development in North Omaha.”
Dr. Viv Ewing
President & CEO Childrens Square
“Veta Jeffery is a brilliant business and community leader with deep experience in economic development. She will be a tremendous asset to the OMAHA community. I look forward to her leading a transformation for the city in economic development and engaging young professionals.”
Deputy Chief, Diversity and Inclusion, City of Omaha
“Veta Jeffery is exactly what Omaha needs right now; an accomplished, visionary, strategic woman to continue the unprecedented economic development growth of our region. I’m ecstatic that she is a DEI subject-matter-expert, and I look forward to helping her and the family to get acclimated to the City of Omaha!”
Special Projects and VEC Manager, Empowerment Network
“I would say that with the announcement of the new CEO it shows that Omaha is moving in the right direction. Circling back to the brain drain it shows that Omaha is being intentional about seeking out talent and diversity. I am excited about what is happening in my city.”
Thomas Warren, Sr.,
Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office
“The appointment of Veta Jeffery as President/CEO of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is historic and monumental. The OCC serves as a catalyst for business development and economic growth in the City of Omaha and the metropolitan area. Ms Jeffrey’s background and experience are aligned with the area’s priorities and needs, talent recruitment and retention, workforce development and increasing diversity through hiring and training initiatives.”
“The City of Omaha and OCC benefit from having the support of a very generous donor/philanthropic community. Ms Jeffery’s skills as a convener will enable her to facilitate public/private partnerships and continue the positive trajectory of our local economy.”
Douglas County Commissioner
“I grew up in the St. Louis metro area and her tenure there prepares her to step in and build a business climate that inclusively creates jobs and develop small and big businesses.”
“It’s refreshing to see that the chamber has hired a black woman to take its organization into the future, bringing her years of experience to Omaha from St. Louis. I look forward to meeting and working with her in the near future.”
Manager of Community Relations, Metropolitan Community College
This is a serious step towards creating a business community that will become even more intentional when it comes to diversify and inclusion…the Greater Omaha Chamber is key in leading the business community to help strengthen minority and small businesses for start up and escalation. We welcome the new CEO Veta Jeffery Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to this place we call the “Good Life”! We look forward to having the conversations around the alignment Skill training and Associates Degrees that will support Businesses in the Greater Omaha area.
In my opinion strength of a progressive City is how it uses culture and diversity as a strength when it comes to creating vibrant places to live work and place, it becomes very important and I believe right thing to do…The future of the Greater Omaha area is full of Hope and Opportunities!
I was excited when I heard Veta Jeffery was selected to serve as the next President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this role.
It’s inspiring to see Black women getting opportunities to serve in leadership roles. I am sure she will do an amazing job taking the chamber to the next level.
Deputy Chief, Omaha Police Department
“I was excited when I heard Veta Jeffery was selected to serve as the next President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber. She is the first woman and first person of color to serve in this role.”
“It’s inspiring to see Black women getting opportunities to serve in leadership roles. I am sure she will do an amazing job taking the chamber to the next level.”
CEO of North End Teleservices
Veta Jefferey from a leadership perspective is best characterized by strategic development, broad consensus building and convening public and private stakeholders to achieve business, economic and community outcomes. Her approach and achievements in city government, the financial sector and economic development transfer and align with the innovative, impactful and collaborator leader we sought to be the CEO and President of the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Notable of her many achievements Ms. Jeffrey was appointed by the Governor of Missouri to help bring back and rebuild Ferguson and the business community after the riots.
Ms. Jeffrey brought together public and private partnerships to work together on creating plans and bringing about outcomes. Her ability to do that in a divided community is impressive.
The committee consisted of diverse leaders and was chaired by Leslie Andersen, CEO of i3 Bank, and includes Carmen Tapio, CEO of North End Teleservices, LLC, Mindy Simon, CIO of ConAgra, Clark Lauritzen, Chairman and President of First National Bank of Omaha and Mogens Bay, retired CEO of Valmont. The selection committee was assisted by Korn Ferry, a worldwide leader in executive search.
We worked tirelessly, vetting all candidates and coming to a unanimous and enthusiastic conclusion that Veta Jeffery is the best choice and person to lead the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and to bring further transformational change.
Welcome to Omaha Veta Jeffery and family.
Stable Gray, award-winning business open at 24th & Lake
Stable Gray, award-winning, black-owned branding and tech firm, opens at 24th & Lake
Stable Gray was founded in 2015 by CharDale Barnes and Teddy Young to help small businesses build strong brands at affordable prices. The efforts of Stable Gray have evolved from providing a few simple media services, to pioneering some of the most innovative branding solutions in the industry.
“We want to create 8-10 six figure jobs right here in our community,” said Barnes at their grand opening held in July 2022.
The Stable Gray mission is: “to help businesses build the brand of their dreams. We strive to blur the lines between large companies with unlimited marketing budgets, and local small businesses. We help businesses of all sizes develop their brand into ones that look just like the companies we see on tv every day.”
The store front at 24th and Lake is their second location. They have a production studio located on the Better Together campus.
Revive Omaha would like to congratulate CharDale Barnes, Teddy Young and the entire Stable Gray team on their grand opening at 24th and Lake.
“Stable Gray does outstanding work with branding, marketing, social media and website development,” said Willie Barney, co-publisher of Revive Omaha Magazine. “They were recognized as small business of the year by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. Teddy and CharDale are committed to supporting and investing in the North Omaha community.”
Learn more about Stable Gray