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Veta Jeffery to speak at Omaha Conference featuring Magic Johnson and 20+ cities

Hundreds of local and national leaders are set to gather in Omaha for the Empowerment Network’s 16th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, five-time NBA champion and one of the world’s leading business executives, entrepreneurs and philanthropists is returning to Omaha as the luncheon keynote for the conference.

Conference and luncheon tickets are available at

The luncheon and conference promise to be even bigger and better.  In addition to Magic Johnson, the Network will feature six national keynote speakers including Veta Jeffery and 50+ local leaders, experts and panelists.

Representatives from 20 regional and national cities will be in attendance to learn more about the Empowerment Network and Omaha 360 Collaborative approach.  

Veta T. Jeffery will be featured as one of the national keynote speakers at the Rebuilding the Village Conference in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 9th.  Jeffery will present from the mainstage and share her experiences in helping to lead efforts to rebuild Ferguson, Missouri after the tragic police killing of Michael Brown, demonstrations, protests and national outcry.  She will then conduct a breakout session focused on the successes and lessons learned from the economic development of the Ferguson community.

Later in the day, Jeffery will present and facilitate a separate session focused on pathways, networks and ecosystems for Black businesses and urban entrepreneurs.

Ms. Jeffery is an accomplished national speaker, representing the interests of corporations, organizations and communities utilizing her ability to bridge diversity gaps and inspiring others to do the same.  She is passionate about growing businesses of all sizes, strengthening and building economically strong communities through work force development and helping families to build generational legacies.

Jeffery has spent her life advocating for the rights of others.  She began her professional career advocating for the rights of Differently Abled individuals where her conflict resolution education and training allowed her to serve others by helping them to successfully navigate through education, employment, building and housing issues.

She went on to spend over 20 years working in the financial services and banking industry as a licensed professional and a member of Senior Management in both sectors.  In financial services she ran agencies gaining national recognition for production and recruitment and retention numbers. In banking, as a Senior Vice President, her efforts helped to create new policies and new products creating a space for banking to be equitable for all.

Jeffery expanded her banking service to the development of small businesses which also included Mom and Pop shops, sole proprietors and M/WBE businesses by helping to develop programming which helped them build capacity.  She developed programs that improved the technical aspects of managing their business and helping them to have control of their back-office challenges and creating paths for them to become bankable thus creating paths for them to have more access to capital.  Her efforts drew businesses to change their banking relationships.

Jeffery accepted a Special Assignment following Ferguson under Governor Nixon serving as Manager of Community Development in the Office of Community Engagement and Department of Community and Economic Development.  In this role she served on many significant projects again bridging gaps in difficult situations.  The creation of the Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce was one of several successful programs that came from her service to the State of Missouri and is still in place today.

Jeffery was asked to join the executive team for the County Executive to serve St. Louis County as the Chief Diversity Officer where she had policy oversight for the MWBE Program and headed planning for St. Louis County ARPA Funding.  She resigned that position to head the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

Jeffery left behind a number of board and taskforce positions.  One notable board on which she served is the US Black Chamber of Commerce where they serve over 146 Chambers Nationwide representing over 175,000 members.

Jeffery is married to Pastor Tony Jeffery, Associate Pastor at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and they are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Ishmaiah age 22 and Toni age 13.

Community Features

1,200+ attend Rebuilding the Village Conference featuring Eric Thomas

OMAHA, Neb. – June 11, 2024 – On Friday, June 7, more than 1,200 attendees walked through the doors of  the CHI Health Center Omaha & Hilton Omaha Downtown to listen to captivating speakers during the 17th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon. Hosted by the Empowerment Network, the event also featured the Revive Omaha Black Business Expo, as well as a powerful and energizing speech delivered by keynote speaker Eric Thomas, Ph.D., a New York Times best-selling author, educator and motivational guru.

“Think Big and Take Action! The Rebuilding the Village Conference was a tremendous success, bringing together local and national leaders, visionaries and community members who are committed to making a tangible difference,” said Willie Barney, CEO and founder, Empowerment Network. “We were able to convene over 1,200 participants including 600 youth from our Step-Up Omaha program.  This conference is more than an event; it’s a movement that empowers teamwork to revitalize our communities. Together, we are forging a path towards sustainable growth and collective prosperity.”

Timothy Christian, Board Chair, Empowerment Network and CEO Night Fox Entertainment, Eric Thomas ET and Willie Barney, CEO and Founder, Empowerment Network.  Photo Credit Nehemiah Barney

The Rebuilding the Village Conference and Luncheon brought together community leaders, activists, entrepreneurs and stakeholders to address critical issues facing underserved communities. With a strong focus on professional and community development, this year’s conference was centered around career advancement, DEI, entrepreneurship, leadership development and wealth building. Sessions were designed to enhance collaboration and strengthen the economic impact in Omaha and beyond.

As keynote speaker, Thomas talked about the importance of inclusive leadership strategies, purpose with emphasis on working collectively. “As a leader, you have to stop ambushing, as a leader, you have to stop doing the one-on-one, as the leader, you have to stop being in isolation,” said Thomas. “You’ve got to understand why [purpose] is so significant; it’s so significant because whoever you are, whatever assignment you’re on, you have to fulfill that assignment.  You are better when you move together.”

Supported in part by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a program of The Obama Foundation, the Empowerment Network is dedicated to building safe and thriving communities through economic, educational and social success. Programs like Omaha 360 and Step-Up Omaha exemplify these efforts. My Brother’s Keeper Alliance promotes supportive communities for boys and young men of color, ensuring they feel valued and have clear pathways to opportunity.

With representation from New Orleans, Kansas City, Lansing, Tulsa, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis and other national cities, attendees came far and wide to network, build community and grow professionally and personally during this year’s conference.

This year’s agenda also included special sessions just for Step-Up youth which aligns with the mission of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.  Breakout sessions focused on driving change, community investment and connecting students with their gifts and strengths.

“There’s always more work ahead, but we have seen a measurable impact through our collective work and collaboration with hundreds of organizations and the engagement of thousands,” said Barney. “Step-Up students are graduating from high school, going to college and entering the workforce.  Graduates of Legacy Wealth are buying homes, launching and scaling businesses, saving and investing.  Alumni of Redefine the Game are receiving promotions, advancing their careers and moving into leadership. We are launching the next round of these cohorts and two others focused on fund development and leadership.”

In the coming months, the Empowerment Network is working with partners to launch the next phase of transformation this summer – pathway to careers, wealth and ownership. Additional growth opportunities including:

  • Connecting 200 more youth per year to the Step-Up youth employment and entrepreneurship programs, to grow to 1,000 students per summer within three years
  • Expanding STEAM programming including drones, robotics, music production, entrepreneurship and culinary.
  • Launching Skill Up! and EmPower Up! for hundreds of North Omaha adult residents to increase wages by providing wrap around and certified educational services
  • Investing in small businesses, entrepreneurship, tourism and job creation
  • Expanding efforts to reduce gun violence by an additional 50%
  • Assisting 250 organizations, small businesses, neighborhoods and churches with capacity-building

As an effort to invest back into Omaha’s Black-owned businesses, the conference featured entrepreneurs during the Black Business Expo, in addition to three breakout sessions specifically for small business owners.

More than 20 panel discussions and interactive workshops led by industry experts and community leaders were also held.

“We greatly appreciate all the attendees, sponsors, speakers, volunteers and all engaged.  We encourage you to support small businesses and stay engaged,” said Barney.

To learn more about the Rebuilding the Village Conference visit To stay connected with the Empowerment Network and learn about upcoming events, visit Follow Empowerment Network on Facebook at


About the Empowerment Network

The Empowerment Network is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing economic, social, and civic progress within Omaha’s African American community, North Omaha and the region. Through collaborative efforts and innovative initiatives, the Empowerment Network strives to create opportunities for empowerment and transformation in every zip code and neighborhood in Omaha and beyond.


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Community Features

2024 Revive Omaha Black Business Guide

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Community Features

New cohorts prepare to launch…Leadership, Fund Development, Wealth Building & Career Advancement


Great News!  After announcing four cohorts late last year, the Empowerment Network decided to delay the launch of the initiatives as they ran into the holiday season, received formal notice of their award of $10 million through the North and South Omaha Recovery Plan and continued the national collaboration with their partner cities introduced at last year’s African-American Leadership Summit.

The Network is now prepared to move forward with the four capacity-building cohort opportunities with their national strategic partners and advisors Dr. Pamela Jolly, Dr. Randal Pinkett, Dr. Jeffery Robinson, Suzan Hart and Anna Barber.

Keys to Fund Development to Make Your Vision a Reality & Intro to Cohort

Anna Barber, fundraising expert that has helped to raise hundreds of millions of dollars including for the Smithsonian’s National Black History Museum in Washington D.C., will lead a six-month cohort on Fund Development:  building a donor base to make your vision a reality.

Barber will share insights gained through her work with major universities, the Museum, Obama Foundation and other national clients.  Participants will develop a comprehensive step by step plan to build and maintain a strong, diversified donor base.

Complete this form to express interest in the Fund Development Cohort with Anna Barber.


Collaborative, Transformation Leadership and Powerful Storytelling & Intro to Cohort

Suzan Hart, one of world’s top storytellers and presenters, will launch a Collaborative Leadership and Storytelling cohort:  Maximize Opportunities with the Power of Your Story.

Participants will learn more about the transformational power of collaboration and enhance their presentation skills by defining purpose, understanding their value, and releasing the power of their story.

Complete this form to express interest in the Transformational Leadership and Storytelling Cohort with Suzan Hart.


Advancing Your Career with Key Principles from Redefine the Game & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Jefferey Robinson of BCT Partners will return to Omaha to help launch the 5th Cohort of the Redefine the Game Institute, an innovative career advancement and leadership development program. Over 150 have participated with most receiving promotions and increased compensation, expanded career opportunities or leadership positions within new organizations.

Complete this form to express interest in the Redefine the Game Institute cohort with Dr. Randal Pinkett and Dr. Jeffrey Robinson.


Understanding Your Wealth Building Code and Developing Your Plan & Intro to Cohort

Dr. Pamela Jolly a nationally recognized wealth-building strategist returns to launch the third cohort of the Legacy Wealth Initiative.  Graduates of Legacy Wealth have developed wealth plans, saved thousands of dollars, become homeowners, launched and purchased businesses, invested individually and collectively and made contributions to their community.

Complete this form to express interest in the Legacy Wealth Cohort with Dr. Pamela Jolly.


Stay connected to the Empowerment Network website for the next steps.   

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