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
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