Conversations with fascinating people sharing their personal stories and their impact on the Omaha community.


Lives S3E4 – Joanne Li, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Chancellor Joanne Li talks with me about being a maverick, her epiphany about the larger opportunities in the world, being a first generation college student and how that shapes her empathy for students today, her plans for the University of Nebraska at Omaha as an urban college, and much more.

Dr. Li is the first woman of color to serve as UNO’s chancellor and the first Asian-American in the history of the University of Nebraska System to hold an executive leadership role. Originally from Hong Kong, Dr. Li is a first-generation college student, earning bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in finance from Florida State University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst. Dr. Li most recently served as dean of the College of Business at Florida International University, the nation’s fourth-largest public university, and served at other universities prior to that. She brings to UNO 15 years of progressive leadership experience in higher education, with a demonstrated record in improving student outcomes, growing enrollment and programs, enhancing diversity and inclusion, fundraising, and building community partnerships.

Lives S3E3 – Keith Station, City of Omaha

Keith Station is the first ever Deputy Chief of Staff for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Mayor’s Office at the City of Omaha. We talk about the aspirations and frustrations of his DEI work, a little of his life journey in coming to this calling, his emergence as a community leader, and more.

Keith Station’s role is to develop and lead a strategic plan for Diversity & Inclusion in city government. Keith was previously Director of Business Relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions and led the YMCA of Greater Omaha. He earned his degree in Business Administration at the University of Nebraska and his Masters in Management at Indiana University-Bloomington. He lives in Omaha with his family.

Lives S3E2 – Nina Sodji, Okra African Grill

Nina Sodji first immigrated to America in 1994 with a business visa, hailing from Togo, a west Africa nation. She began her career as a nurse who had a growing passion for cooking. Nina ran with her heart, opened an African grocery market in Omaha in 2004, and later added a restaurant and was successful until the 2008 Great Recession. She went on to achieve a culinary degree from Metropolitan Community College, and a bachelor’s in business management from Bellevue University.  Nina’s restaurant, Okra African Grill, is her vision to bring her favorite Togolese dishes to life in Omaha. An homage to all African cultures and the transcontinental history that have influenced Togolese foods, her cuisine tells a complex story.

Lives S3E1 – Marjorie Maas, SHARE Omaha

Marjorie Maas serves as the inaugural executive director of SHARE Omaha, whose mission is to help nonprofits fulfill theirs by offering the giving public opportunities to connect with metro nonprofits through donations, volunteering, and fulfilling “wish lists.” In our conversation, Marjorie talks about how SHARE Omaha has grown substantially since its founding in 2019 and the lessons she has learned, as a leader, during that period. We also talk about Marjorie’s personal calling and the family context and experiences that lead her on.



Lives S2E12 – Esther Mejia, E Creative

Esther Mejia is the President and CCO of E Creative, a brand strategy and communications firm she founded in 2011. In our conversation, we talk about her upbringing in rural Nebraska, her early exploration in fine art and design, and the leap of faith she made in starting her own business, including lessons learned and challenges overcome along the way.

Esther was born into a large, close-knit family, to parents who emigrated to Nebraska from Mexico. She has served on several boards to fulfill her commitment to her community and to honor her family’s tradition of service. After ten years as an entrepreneur, Esther remains focused on her passion – helping community-driven organizations to connect with their clients. Esther’s leadership efforts focus on organizations that serve immigrants, women, girls and LGBTQIA+ as communities she identifies with most, serving where she knows she can represent others like her and ensure that the voices of diverse populations are heard.


Lives S2E11 – Nathan Preheim, Proven Ventures

Nathan Preheim is a serial entrepreneur in every way and can’t help but concept new companies. With Erica Wassinger, he co-founded Proven Ventures, which offers a fresh approach to venture capital and invests in Nebraska startups that wish to start, grow, and stay in Nebraska. In this show, Nathan talks about how Proven Ventures has crafted a uniquely Midwestern approach to startup investing, focused on building and growing. He also shares his views on entrepreneurs and the Nebraskan entrepreneur ecosystem, as well some of his own history and motivation.


Lives S2E10 – Dr. Ali Kahn

Dr. Ali S. Khan is a former Assistant Surgeon General and current Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Dr. Khan shares his family’s journey from the Himalayan foothills in Kashmir to Brooklyn, NY and the beginnings of his passion for medicine and infectious diseases. We talk about bioterrorism, our failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the role for politicians and public health officials, and why Omaha and UNMC are the place to be!

Lives S2E9 – Patricia Kearns

Patricia Kearns is the President & CEO of QLI, a nationally recognized post-hospital rehabilitation center for individuals with brain and spinal cord injuries. Patricia, a physical therapist by training, joined the clinical team at QLI in 2001, becoming President & CEO in 2011. In the show, Kearns discusses the extensive rehabilitation of the whole person QLI works with and the unique feeling of community the QLI campus provides. Kearns also talks about the culture at QLI and her own journey and experiences as a leader.


Lives S2E8 – Arun Agarwal

Arun Agarwal is a former Wall Street investment banker at Prudential Securities who has primarily focused on healthcare and real estate initiatives. Arun began his own private equity firm in 2002, returning to Omaha, Nebraska to set up a home base for White Lotus Group, which has facilitated projects totaling over $1.5 billion. In our conversation we talk about private equity, risk, community development, entrepreneurship, navigating the pandemic, the importance of family, and more.


Lives S2E7 – Dr. Michael Dixon

Dr. Michael Dixon is president and CEO of the UNeMed Corporation, a company that works with faculty, students, and staff of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and Nebraska Medicine to help commercialize innovative, new ideas that have the potential to improve public health for Nebraska residents and beyond. Under his leadership, UNeMed has more than doubled the number of new inventions and licenses it executes each year. In addition, UNeMed revenues have increased 10-fold. In this show, Dixon talks about some of the major innovation breakthroughs that have emerged from UNeMed, including a game-changing malaria therapeutic, and the challenges and pleasures of creating a solid culture and process around big egos, smart people, and investment. Dixon also shares how he found his way from science to this quasi-entrepreneurship role and what he sees for the future.


Lives S2E6 – Jamie Berglund

Jamie Berglund is the Executive Director of Spark, an Omaha-based community development organization focused on catalyzing transformative community and economic development initiatives. In our conversation, Jamie describes community and the long road to community development, gentrification contrasted by positive community wealth building models, what true listening to neighborhood residents looks like, and more. Jamie also shares her own awakening to community in her Omaha neighborhoods and how her passion for this work has emerged.


Lives S2E5 – Rachel Fox

Rachel Fox is a multiple entrepreneur, author, teacher, and founder of You Go Girl, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of self-doubt and low self-esteem in young women and girls by creating a vision for who they can be. Honored many times for her community and business leadership, Rachel talks about the personal impact during her early life moving from the South to the Midwest, how that inspired her vision for You Go Girl, and her aspirations for the future.


Lives S2E4 – Dr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM

Dr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM, for over two decades has served as President of College of Saint Mary, the Omaha region’s only Catholic university for women. Inspired by her upbringing and faith as a Sister of Mercy, Dr. Stevens has led College of Saint Mary to develop several innovative programs. In this conversation, Dr. Stevens talks about her upbringing and how it shaped her. She also shares the inspiration of The Sisters of Mercy in her calling to be a nun and a teacher and how that has informed her leadership of a higher education institution with a vision of active idealism.


Lives S2E3 – Jason Fischer

Something of a Renaissance man, Jason Fischer is an artist, designer, photographer, film-maker, community activist and entrepreneur. His agency, Surreal Media Lab, is a place and a philosophy where Jason’s creativity, business, and community endeavors can be for profit and mindful of matters of humanity. In this conversation, Jason talks about his entrepreneurship, creative philosophy and work, and a little of his life and aspiration.


Lives S2E2 – Erin Vik

Erin Vik is Director, Nutrition at Westside School District, each day providing over 10,000 lunches and more. In our conversation, Erin talks about meal quality, sourcing ingredients, and the challenges of providing thousands of nutritious, tasty meals each day.


Lives S2E1 – Sue Thaden

Sue Thaden founded Client Resources Inc., a women-owned IT talent and solutions business in 1999, growing to employ over 180 IT professionals with clients across numerous industries and geographies.



Lives S1E1 – Bobby Brumfield

A conversation with security expert, former Marine and law enforcement officer Bobby Broomfield discussing a community and relationship-based approach to security, gun safety, and violence prevention, as well as approaches educating men towards a healthy perspective on masculinity.


Recorded: 10th Mar, 2018

Lives S1E2 – David Scott

David Scott was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, before journeying via Greece, Bali, and other destinations to settle in America’s Midwest where he currently works for The Peregrine Hotel, a new boutique hotel in downtown Omaha opening later this year. An award winning hotel management and hospitality industry professional, David talks with me about the appeal of hospitality and the impact of the pandemic, his efforts towards diversity and inclusion in the industry, and more broadly about his life.

Recorded: 2nd Jul, 2020

Lives S1E3 – Doug Wilwerding

A conversation with Doug Wilwerding, CEO, businessman and venture capital investor, who shares his thoughts on leadership, differentiated market positions, ethics of leadership, and…fly fishing.


Recorded: 11th Oct, 2017

Lives S1E4 – Dr. Cheryl Logan

Dr. Cheryl Logan talks about education trends, the challenges facing her as Omaha Public Schools‘ new Superintendent, being a role model as an African-American female leader, and about her personal experiences and background.


Recorded: 14th Nov 2018

Lives S1E5 – Dusty Davidson

Dusty Davidson, cofounder of Flywheel, talks about entrepreneurship, community, and the benefits and joys of living and working for two months each year in Paris.

Recorded: 19th Jun, 2019

Lives S1E6 – Erica Wassinger

Startup maven Erica Wassinger, cofounder of The Startup Collaborative, demystifies blockchain and discusses the psychology of entrepreneurs, women and business, start ups, and her own start and lessons in life.

Recorded: 13th Mar, 2019

Lives S1E7 – Garry Clark

Garry Clark shares his transformative journey from a disadvantaged, dangerous childhood in the nation’s capital to the unexpected opportunities of the rural Midwest.

Recorded: 10th Apr 2019

Lives S1E8 – Merica Whitehall

A conversation with Merica Whitehall, multi-generational Nebraskan and ED of Fontenelle Forest as she talks about the magical power of the natural world, the restorative force of the outdoors, her long family history, including its slave origins, and her time as as performance manager. Oh, and stilt dancing!


Recorded: 12th Oct 2017

Lives S1E9 – Miah Sommer

A conversation with Miah Sommer, executive director of The Bike Union and Coffee Shop, helping youth bridge the gap between the foster care system and independence, as well as speaking about his own traumatic and formative coming of age.


Recorded: 6th Dec 2017

Lives S1E10 – Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon is a designer, entrepreneur, and all around creative spirit, as well as an international class athlete. He discusses his perspectives on design, his love for sneakers, and how he navigated his life from a more difficult environment to one as an Olympic hopeful and successful designer.

Recorded: 31st Jul 2019

Lives S1E11 – Susan Henricks

Susan Henricks is the CEO of ICAN (the Institute for Career Advancement Needs), a non-profit leader development organization, prior to which she spent decades in strategic leadership roles in both private and public companies. Susan talks about the pressures facing women and younger generations in the business world as they cultivate their leadership skills and charts her own experiences as a female business leader.

Recorded: 4th Dec 2019

Lives S1E12 – Isaiah Sheese

A conversation with Isaiah Sheese, founder of Archetype Coffee, discussing the natural and the business worlds of coffee, as well as why he would like to make a mockumentary about coffee competitions and how coffee shops are like church.


Recorded: 15th Mar 2018


Lives Podcast features conversations with fascinating people sharing their personal stories and their impact on the Greater Omaha community.

Fresh voices and diverse perspectives on culture, community, business and more brought to you in this conversation hosted by Stuart Chittenden, founder of the conversation consultancy Squishtalks and co-founder of the creativity and design thinking consultancy Gilbert+Chittenden. Sponsored in part by Greater Omaha Chamber.

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Stuart Chittenden

Stuart Chittenden