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Revive Q&A: Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer, Director of Equity & Diversity, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska

Published:  November 14, 2020

Congratulations Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer.  Thank you for your commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska recently announced the appointment of Jessica “Jay” Warren-Teamer as director of diversity and inclusion.

Warren-Teamer has more than 10 years of experience in community outreach.  Her recent work experiences include key roles serving as the community affairs coordinator at Mutual of Omaha and the director of community investment and workforce readiness with the United Way of the Midlands.

Warren-Teamer simultaneously has been very active in the community as co-founder of I Be Black Girl Omaha,  a number of Young Professional networks and other change focused initiatives.

In her new role at BCBSNE, she will direct and develop the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and programs.

Revive! had the opportunity to ask Warren-Teamer seven key questions regarding her new role and the current environment related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion in Omaha.

Congratulations Jay and thank you for sharing such powerful, important and timely insights with us.


What interested you in the new role at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska?

“I wasn’t actively searching for a new role at the time, but saw the job posting and it piqued my interest. I loved how the role was framed to not only support Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) internally at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE), but also in the community. A lot of job descriptions for these roles tend to focus on more compliance or legal requirements around this work, but this one seemed very different.”

“As Director of Diversity and Inclusion, I have the awesome opportunity to lead DEI efforts for the company at a time when it is more important than ever. I’ll be creating and driving strategy, knowing the work I do will create real impact for our employees, our members, and our community.”

What attracted you to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska?

“BCBSNE has a strong brand, and that certainly extends to us as an employer. While exploring a potential job change as a working mom in the middle of a pandemic, it was important to me that if I made a move, it was the right one.  I had conversations with a few former/current employees to get their perspective on their experience, and they had great things to share. As I progressed through the interview process, I was continually impressed about the commitment to DEI and the community. I’ve been in my role since August 31st and it feels like I’ve been here much longer. My team and the various stakeholders I work with welcomed me with open arms and got me up to speed quickly. I’m glad I took the leap – it is a great fit.”

What are your goals for the position?

“All too often in some companies, DEI tends to be something that lives off on the side of someone’s desk or feels like an afterthought. I will be working to proactively integrate DEI into all functions of our business so that we are thinking about it early and often as we develop products, design processes and make decisions.”

“Before being appointed to this role, BCBSNE’s Diversity Inclusion Group (DIG), in partnership with Malorie Maddox, chief marketing, communications and strategy officer (and D&I executive sponsor), and employees from across the organization, did an incredible job of keeping this work moving. It was completely volunteer led by people who care deeply about this issue. I am committed to honoring the work that’s been done – and to taking it to the next level.”

What will be your initial areas of focus?

I’ve identified four primary areas of focus:

  • Attracting, hiring, and retaining talent from underrepresented populations
  • Growing and sustaining our ERGs
  • Solidifying our commitment to DEI as a part of our brand
  • Equipping leaders with the tools they need to be inclusive

What are your general thoughts about equity, diversity, and inclusion in Omaha?

“Omaha has gotten tons of recognition as a best place to raise a family, best place for startups and lots of other accolades. On face value, our unemployment is low, and we have strong economic performance. However, when we pull the layers back and disaggregate the data, not all Omahans get to experience “The Good Life.” For our city and state to continue to grow and truly become a place where all people have equal footing regardless of their zip code or color of their skin, DEI is a moral, business, and ethical imperative.”


What impact has the last six months had on your approach?

“Unfortunately, for many of us from marginalized communities, the events of the last six months are nothing new. The impacts of racism and “other” -isms have impacted our lives in real ways. What this moment in time has solidified for me is that we all come into our own awareness about these issues, and it is a journey, not a destination. I have become more committed to using my voice to educate others. I’ve also started to acknowledge the emotional labor and psychological toll that engaging in this work takes on you. I intentionally carve out time to do things that bring me joy – and unapologetically unplug when I need to.”

Anything else you would want to share?

“I’ve always been committed to making sure that all people – especially those who have been impacted by systemic and systematic inequities – have what they need to reach their full potential. However, I became a mom in December and that became much more important to me. I hope that through this role and my work in the community, my son grows up in an Omaha that allows him to thrive.”

Source:  Revive Omaha Magazine

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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.

 

Cheryl Logan
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.

 

Pete Festersen
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.”

 

Richard Webb
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.”

 

Precious McKesson
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.”

 

Keith Station
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!”

 

Aisha Conner
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.”

 

Chris Rodgers
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.”

 

Terrell McKinney
State Senator

“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.”

 

Tim Clark
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.

 

Sherie Thomas
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.”

 

Carmen Tapio
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.

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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 david1pollock@codeblackinc.com

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Shavonne Washington-Krauth inaugural Director of Culture & Inclusion at Children’s Hospital

Published:  January 19, 2022

Shavonne Washington-Krauth is the inaugural Culture and Inclusion Director for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center.

In mid-2018 Children’s Hospital & Medical Center began intensive conversations about their desire to do more focused and intentional work related to diversity and inclusion within the organization.

By July 2019, Children’s had hired its inaugural Culture and Inclusion Manager, Shavonne Washington-Krauth. Since that time, Children’s has been working to provide a more diverse and inclusive workplace experience for employees by focusing on programming, systems, and policy concepts.

They have also been working in the realm of creating a more inclusive experience for their patients and families. Due to the success and level of influence she was having in her role, Children’s promoted Shavonne to the Director of Culture and Inclusion one year after she joined the organization, and is now adding a new member to her team.

Children’s is proud of the progress made in the past 2 ½ years and looks forward to seeing how much more they will accomplish.

Ms. Washington-Krauth’s responsibilities include the creation and revision of systems, policies, opportunities, and environments in which everyone can not only work, but thrive at a more equitable rate without feeling excluded or marginalized.

She also leads the development and implementation of a culture, diversity, and inclusion strategic framework; supervision of six employee resource groups and serves as an advisor or subject matter expert on topics regarding the organization’s culture, diversity, and inclusion efforts.

Ms. Washington-Krauth holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, a master’s degree in health education, is a Prosci-certified Change Management Practitioner, and a trained Bridges Out of Poverty facilitator.  Washington-Krauth is also a graduate of the Empowerment Network and BCT Partners’ Redefine the Game Institute.

Shavonne is dedicated and committed to the success of her community.  She serves on the board of the Latino Center of the Midlands in South Omaha and Union for Contemporary Art in North Omaha.

She is a self-proclaimed “Air Force Brat” currently living in Omaha with her husband, two sons, two dogs, a fish, and three chickens.

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