OMAHA, Neb., Sept. 6, 2019 – The Greater Omaha Chamber has launched the 2019-2020 session of its Omaha Executive Institute (OEI), welcoming a cohort that adds a wide range of executive-level talent to the region.

“Leaders are learners, and this year’s OEI class is no exception,” said Lynda Shafer, the Chamber’s leader “leader.” “From program directors to publishers, the class is diverse, skilled and equipped to meet OEI’s goals of broadening knowledge and creating community connections.”

OEI is offered exclusively for senior-level executives (who are new to their positions and/or new to the community) and their spouses. Over the course of eight monthly sessions, participants explore the community’s issues, challenges and opportunities to better understand the environment in which they are now doing business.

“Omaha Executive Institute really opened our eyes to the community: What is Omaha about? What’s the history of the community?” said past program participant Chuck Nelson, Senior Vice President of Enterprise Data Management, First National Bank. “It helped bring Omaha to life for us.”

Chuck’s wife, Pam Nelson, added, “We met some people, but more importantly, it encouraged us to connect to the community.”

Meet the 2019 OEI Cohort:

FirstName LastName Title Company
Aaron Austin SVP, CHRO CHI Health
Janice Austin
Mike Brookes Director of Intelligence U.S. Strategic Command
Wendy Brookes
Courtney Burnette Director, iCASD UNMC iCASD
Shannon Cotsoradis President & CEO Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative
Jessica Dennis VP, Finance First National Bank of Omaha
Shawn Dennis Occupational Therapist Kindred at Home
Liz Durham-Ruiz Director of C4 Systems U.S. Strategic Command
Rich Ruiz  IT Specialist U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Naomi Hattaway Program Director Habitat for Humanity of Omaha
Mike Hilt Dean, College of Communication, Fine Arts & Media (CFAM) University of Nebraska Omaha
Sacha Kopp Senior Vice Chancellor University of Nebraska Omaha
Claudio Laterreur SVP, CIO Valmont Industries
Mike Lucas Superintendent of Schools Westside Community Schools
Clark Ponthier SVP Supply Chain Union Pacific
Lisa Ponthier
David Ridgeway EVP/Chief Lending Officer ACCESSbank
Daphne Ridgeway
Todd Sears President and Publisher Omaha World-Herald
Brenna Sears Owner Bravenity
Mart Sedky VP Human Capital Omaha Public Power District
Kristi Thornton SVP/Omaha Retail Market Manager West Gate Bank
Randy Wood President, Global Agricultural Irrigation Lindsay Corporation
Candace Wood Aerobics Instructor Armbrust Family YMCA

To learn more about Omaha Executive Institute, visit the OEI webpage or contact Lynda Shafer at