The Omaha Executive Institute is for senior-level executives who are new to their positions and/or new to the community as way to explore the issues, challenges and opportunities of Greater Omaha. Meet some of the trailblazers within the group.
“Doing what you love – you have the opportunity to do more of that in a place where you can get connected right away.” – Pam Nelson, owner, Walk the Walk Wellness
Chuck and Pam Nelson have seen their thinking evolve in wonderful ways since moving to Omaha in 2008.
“We’ve gone from ‘Oh my goodness, we have to move to Omaha’ to ‘I’m starting to like this place’ to ‘We’re going to retire here,’” Pam says.
Chuck’s job with First National Bank of Omaha – he serves as Senior Vice President of Enterprise Data Management – drew the couple away from Atlanta, their grown children and extended family.
“When we first moved here, I had a very difficult time adjusting,” Pam recalls.
To help integrate, the Nelsons got involved – first by enrolling in Omaha Executive Institute (OEI), a Chamber program for executives and their spouses who are new to the area.
“Omaha Executive Institute really opened our eyes to the community: What is Omaha about? What’s the history of the community?” Chuck says. “It helped bring Omaha to life for us.”
Pam adds, “We met some people, but more importantly, it encouraged us to connect to the community.”
Inspired by OEI’s exploration of volunteer opportunities, the Nelsons got involved again, signing on as a Big Couple with the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program, making an impact in the lives of “Littles” Delon and Elijah.
“Building a relationship with a ‘Little’ took my mind off of what I lost and opened my mind to the positive aspects of living in Omaha,” Pam says. “Giving back has been good for our souls.”
Chuck channeled his BBBS involvement into board service five years ago. He’ll take over as chairperson in 2020. He’s also a member of 100 Black Men of Omaha, an organization dedicated to helping under-served youth, primarily African American males, become respectful, responsible and ready to lead.
Beyond that, Chuck has his “side hustle” – a band called HWY 6 (Highway 6) that developed from connections to musicians at their church: “We play around. We’re a classic rock cover band. We play a little blues, a little country, a little R & B.”
Pam, meantime, is rocking her own business, “Walk the Walk Wellness.” She is a worksite and community wellness coordinator. After moving to Omaha, she transitioned from a job in pharmaceutical sales with some help from OEI’s Lynda Shafer, the Chamber’s Leader Leader.
“I’ve always wanted to get involved in wellness, so I had this lunch with Lynda. She said, ‘Would you like a little help?’ and I said, ‘Yes, I would like some help.’”
One connection led to another, which led Pam to Charles Drew Health Center.
“From there, I developed and implemented a program called Earn-a-Bike,” which gives children in the north Omaha community the chance to earn bikes by doing community service. Over seven years, the program has given away at least 800 new bikes, helmets and locks.
“That started with Lynda Shafer and Omaha Executive Institute,” says Pam who is now working to pursue a future in faith-based wellness.
The Nelsons, who’ve since welcomed a daughter, her husband and two of their six grandchildren to Omaha, are excited about an extended future here. They say they wouldn’t have connected to the community as quickly without OEI.
“Doing what you love – you have the opportunity to do more of that in a place where you can get connected right away,” Pam says. “We didn’t have that kind of thing in Atlanta; it’s not easy to get in front of people.”
Chuck adds, “If you’re coming from somewhere else, (OEI) is an excellent way to become grounded in the community, to find an understanding of its history and what’s going on today as far as opportunities to serve, build the community and build relationships. Communities thrive because people roll up their sleeves and help one another.”
Omaha Executive Institute
The program explores the issues, challenges and opportunities of Greater Omaha to help participants understand the environment in which they are now doing business.