New at Nebraska Journalism Trust: More directors, hires and Silicon Prairie Startup Week

An update from Nebraska Journalism Trust Executive Director Matt Wynn.

It’s been a busy few months. Our board has new faces. We have new employees and new reporters. And I’m thrilled to announce a new event series.

Let’s dive in.

December was a milestone for us, as it represented the end of the term for one of our founding directors, John Gale. 

Gale was instrumental in building the Trust. He was a key voice advocating for strong financial policies and shaped our approach to transparent journalism in the public interest. He helped write our mission statement, was a steady hand in favor of sustainability and opened innumerable doors. 

After three years with the Trust, decades in state office and a career in law and politics, John has earned a real retirement. We’re grateful for all his work with the Trust, and wish him plenty of quality grandkid time.

John’s departure motivated us to look for new directors, and we were so blown away we decided to add three. Please join me in welcoming these new directors to the board of the Nebraska Journalism Trust:

  • Jaime Monroe – Monroe, born in Gordon, is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She grew up in Rosalie in northeast Nebraska and graduated from Wayne State College with a degree in criminal justice. Jaime started her career in 2010 with Ho-Chunk, Inc., the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska’s economic development corporation. She lives with her young family in Winnebago and manages the company’s Community Development department, leading charitable giving and grant funding initiatives. Jaime’s volunteer experience includes the St. Augustine Indian Mission Board of Directors, Educare Winnebago Parent Policy Council and Parent Committee, and the Boys and Girls Club of Winnebago Board of Directors. She is continuing her education in contemporary tribal leadership.
  • John Stinner – Stinner, born in Pittsburgh, moved to Lincoln to accept a University of Nebraska football scholarship in 1969. He started his career in public accounting in Lincoln then moved to western Nebraska when he opened a bank in Gering. In 2013-14, he was the chairman of the Nebraska Bankers Association. He was first elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 2014, representing District 48 in and around Scottsbluff. John has dedicated his time to more than 20 civic organizations, including serving on the Gering Public School Board, YMCA, Twin Cities Development, and the Western Community College Board of Governors, among others.  
  • Wally Weitz – Weitz was also born in Pittsburgh to a social worker and a college professor. He grew up in New Orleans in the ‘50s and ‘60s and earned a B.A. in economics at Carleton College. In 1983, he founded Weitz Investment Management which manages roughly $6 billion in assets through its family of mutual funds and separately managed accounts. In 2000 he founded the Weitz Family Foundation with his wife, Barbara, and their children. In 2022, Weitz was elected to serve on the board of Berkshire Hathaway. Weitz is also a Director at Cable One, and member of many non-profit boards. He is an avid, but allegedly mediocre, golfer.

Monroe, Stinner and Weitz join our eight existing board members, and help us continue to build an organization that reflects Nebraska. They bring diverse backgrounds and complementary skill sets. All three are passionate about the important role of the press. I couldn’t be more honored to work with them in building the journalism organization Nebraska deserves.

Our governing board isn’t the only part of the organization that’s growing. 

In an era where true connection is rare, we are keenly interested in engaging with our audience in meaningful ways. That’s why I am pleased to introduce the newest member of our leadership team, audience manager Ciara Lee. A University of Nebraska at Omaha alum, Lee established a boutique PR agency in LA, working with talent, exploring songwriting and managing studios. In 2022, Lee returned home to Omaha, joining Omaha Performing Arts as public relations and social media manager. There, she played a crucial role in the rollout of Steelhouse Omaha. At the Trust, Lee focuses on expanding audiences for Flatwater Free Press and Silicon Prairie News through social media, paid advertising, events and community engagement initiatives.

Meanwhile, Han McClelland Wagoner joins our team as Development Associate, with responsibility for donor stewardship and records management. Han grew up in Omaha and is studying cross-sector collaboration and nonprofit management at the University of Nebraska Omaha. 

We’re also making additions on the reporting side of the house. You likely recognize Destiny Herbers’ byline. She was instrumental in our 2023 series Who’s Buying Nebraska, deftly weaving revelatory analysis with shoe leather reporting, a combination that I consider the calling card of the Flatwater style. Herbers joined us last summer as a fellow from the Howard Center at the University of Maryland. Her fellowship was set to expire this July.

We weren’t going to let that happen. In February, I’m pleased to share, she accepted a permanent position. I look forward to reading and publishing her work for years to come.

Finally, we added two more fellows. Naomi Delkamiller wrote her inaugural Flatwater story last week. And Roselyn Gonzalez will begin working for Silicon Prairie News on March 15. 

Speaking of Silicon Prairie News: Last year, the SPN team covered the heck out of two different startup weeks. Omaha’s took place in September, and Lincoln’s in November. SPN editor Stefanie Monge moderated a panel at the Omaha event, and our first ever 10 Hour Challenge Hackathon capped off Lincoln’s week. The energy, the excitement, the promise of our tech ecosystem is palpable during these week long celebrations. They’re practical. Welcoming. Informational. Connective. In other words, it’s the perfect encapsulation of everything we do at SPN. 

That’s why we are excited to unveil our plans for the Silicon Prairie Startup Week – a collaboration aimed at bringing together the brightest minds in the region to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce are working hand-in-hand with Silicon Prairie News to produce one jam-packed week to show off and connect the entire Silicon Prairie. Throughout the week, we will host a series of workshops, panel discussions and networking events designed to inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. From pitch sessions to mystery dinners to hackathons and happy hours, Silicon Prairie Startup Week (SPSW) will be a melting pot of ideas and opportunities.

We want SPSW to reflect and serve Nebraska’s vibrant startup landscape. That means asking you to join us in planning the celebration. Whether you’re interested in contributing as a sponsor, volunteer or event host, submit your information here. Let’s make this happen together.

The growth of NJT is a testament to the power of a uniquely Nebraskan version of community. I am deeply grateful for the support of our donors, sponsors and partners who have stood by us. By coming to our website, reading our newsletters, attending our events and contributing to our cause, you’ve fueled our expansion, enabling us to reach wider audiences and truly impact this place we call home. 

Together, we are shaping the future of Nebraska journalism, one story at a time.

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