October 2, 2024

CHI Health Center Omaha


Leveraging My Influence

The fourth annual Conference on Opportunity, Diversity and Equity continues to drive individual and organization change through dynamic and thought-provoking educational sessions and intentional time to build relationships.


We want individuals to effectively disrupt some of the systems that have been in place in a way that addresses organizational inequities. These Initiatives can result in lasting outcomes by providing tools and methods to do so in a source not creating harm to the internal culture they are representing, but understanding there are multiple ways to show up as individuals within their organizations and their community.


Dismantle how we change the narrative on DEI around culture mapping to genuinely address and resolve organizational inequities resulting in a more inclusive Omaha.

  • Foster a culture of psychological safety within organizations where individuals with different identities can feel empowered to advocate for change.
  • Recognize intersectionality to further widen perspectives within the organization.


Discover ways on how individuals, CEO’s, senior leadership, and organizations as a whole can hold themselves accountable on how they can make sustainable systematic changes towards the work they put into at the genesis of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

  • Create an inclusive work culture in order to attract and retain diverse talent in Omaha.
  • Discover ways to sustain momentum by using DEI-metrics. (Ex: Employer Coalition)

Follow #TheConferenceOMA on social.

2023 Keynote Speakers

Soledad O'Brien Headshot

Soledad O’Brien

Award-Winning Journalist, Entrepreneur and Host of the Weekly Syndicated Political Show Matter of Fact
Soledad O'Brien Bio

Soledad O’Brien is an award-winning documentarian, journalist, speaker, author, philanthropist, and founder of Soledad O’Brien Productions, a media production company dedicated to telling empowering and authentic stories on a range of social issues. She anchors and produces “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” a political magazine program syndicated in 95% of the country for Hearst Television. She is a correspondent for HBO Real Sports.

Soledad has a national impact through her speeches and books, including her critically acclaimed memoir “The Next Big Story” and “Latino in America,” and through her 1.3 million Twitter followers and half a million Instagram followers.

Soledad O’Brien Productions most recent projects include the Peabody-nominated documentary, “The Rebellious Life of Rosa Parks” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and streams on Peacock, and the multi-part series “Black and Missing”, which won the Independent Spirit and NAACP awards and streams on HBO.  Other productions have appeared on Discovery Plus, CNN, BET, PBS, and others. She also works with major foundations, like Ford, to produce impactful documentaries on topics like hunger, race and public health.

She has a presence on the op-ed pages of publications like the New York Times and Huffington Post, and gave Congressional testimony on media disinformation. She has anchored shows on CNN, MSNBC, and NBC, and reported specials for Fox, BET, A&E, Oxygen, Nat Geo, the PBS NewsHour, WebMD, and Al Jazeera America, among others.

Her work has been recognized with five Emmy awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and four Gracie Awards—an award which honors women in media. She has also won two Cine Awards for her work in documentary films, as well as an Alfred I. DuPont Award. In 2023 she was inducted into the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame.

Soledad and her husband Brad founded the PowHerful foundation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which has helped dozens of young women get to and through college and to date has connected thousands of young women with mentoring conferences.

Shalynne Jackson

Shalynne Jackson

Principal Consultant | Shalynne Jackson Consulting                        
Shalynne Jackson Bio

Shalynne Jackson serves as Founder and Principal Consultant of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) consulting firm, Shalynne Jackson Consulting. Committed to equity, she has experience implementing DEI strategies for businesses of all sizes and industries, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to public safety professionals. She has served on various boards and is currently the Diversity Chair for the Oklahoma Human Resources State Council (OKHR); serves on Schnake Turnbo Franks’ I&D Advisory Committee; and is on the board of ReMerge – a comprehensive diversion program. In 2023, Shalynne was recognized by 405 Business Magazine as a Notable DEI Leader and one of the Metro’s most influential leaders. A graduate of The University of Oklahoma, Shalynne holds a Master of Human Relations degree. Additionally, she is a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence.

2023 Breakout Speakers

Shari Collins

Shari Collins joined the MENTOR Nebraska team in the spring of 2021 as a TA Consultant, providing best practices to mentoring organizations. She also delivers training on various mentoring strategies and has presented at the National Mentoring Summit in Washington DC.

She is also a global consultant, trainer and speaker across various industries with a focus in DEI, mentoring, and leadership. She is a certified teacher and has worked in Omaha metro schools and at Northwest Area Education Agency in Iowa. She currently holds her 3rd contract with National Education Association in Washington, DC, where she is teaching DEI courses to educators across the country. Shari also enjoys facilitating workshops across Nebraska for Inclusive Communities. She is serving her 2nd year on the Omaha Chamber’s CODE Planning Team, and she is a Board Member for HRAM, Human Resource Association of the Midlands.

She holds multiple certifications in DEI and Leadership, and she is a Cohort 3 graduate of Inclusive Communities’ Lead Diversity program. Shari earned her bachelor’s degree in English, Communications and Secondary Education from Hastings College and her master’s degree in Secondary Education from University of Nebraska-Omaha. Shari’s favorite saying is, “The more we learn, the better we can be.” So let’s have some fun learning together today!

Angela Cooper

A former Chief Diversity Officer in Corporate America, Angela Cooper (she/her) has over two decades of business experience leading change. As the founder of Mindpower Strategic, she now serves as a DEI Strategist, thought partner and change architect for forward-thinking business leaders who are invested in people-centered strategies.

Nicole Ebat

Nicole Ebat is the Sr. Manager of Communications and Community Relations at Metro. Her goal is to make sure taking the bus is easy to understand, easy to learn, and easy to access for everyone in the metro, no matter why they ride the bus. She spends a lot of her time helping people figure out not only how public transit can fit within their daily lives, but how it can add sparks of fun and adventure too. She knows the important role transit plays in connecting people to each other and allowing them to grow and shape their community. Nicole grew up using Las Vegas’ public transit system to get around and has since lived and relied on transit in places like Chicago and Portland, OR. She now lives in Omaha without a car, preferring to focus on podcasts over driving. Feel free to say hi when you spot her on the bus!

Jeremy Fricke

Jeremy Fricke Headshot

Jeremy Fricke is the Vice President of Mission Advancement at Tri-Faith Initiative. As a consultant, trainer, and thought leader of religious diversity, equity, and inclusion, he has worked with dozens of organizations and communities to better the everyday lives of people of all religious backgrounds.

Jeremy received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration/Human Resources from Wayne State College. He then attended the University of Iowa, graduating with his Master of Arts in Religious Studies in 2018, and has trained and developed workshops on a wide variety of topics including racism and religion, religious diversity, and workplace policy with religious diversity in mind.

Alicia Johnson

Alicia Johnson, PhD, is the Director of Civil Rights and Inclusion at the Regional Metropolitan Transit Authority of Omaha, otherwise known as Metro. In her role, she oversees the Title VI Program, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, ADA compliance, and internal and external diversity, equity, and inclusion advancements. Prior to joining Metro, Dr. Johnson was at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) where she was the interim University (Chief) Diversity Officer, Director of the Women’s Center on UWO’s four-year campus, and the Lead Organizer for The Intersection (diversity and inclusion spaces) on UWO’s two two-year campuses. She holds a PhD from the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Dr. Karen Kassebaum

Dr. Karen Kassebaum, a native of Chicago, earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kassebaum served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Inclusive Leadership and Learning. She also served as the Director of Diversity Education and Inclusive Excellence at the University of South Carolina, Columbia where she developed an inaugural Inclusive Excellence Institute for staff and faculty which increased the capacity of the campus community to engage across differences. Kassebaum currently serves as the new Sr. Manager, Diversity & Corporate Social Responsibility at Hudl. She is also the founder of Athlete2Athlete, an organization that provides transitional mentoring and leadership development. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated and the Omaha Chapter of The LINKs, Incorporated. She received the 2017 Chancellor’s Fulfilling the Dream Award for contributing to the university or community by promoting the vision of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Ralph Kellogg

Ralph Kellogg

Ralph Kellogg serves as the Vice President for People and Training at Lutheran Family Services. Mr. Kellogg has an extensive background in human resources and corporate training.

Mr. Kellogg received a B.S. in Business Administration from Creighton University in 1992. He obtained an MBA from Bellevue University in 2002, and an M.S. in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Creighton University in 2009. In 2012 Mr. Kellogg received a B.S. in Human Resources Management from Bellevue University earning cum-lade designation.

Mr. Kellogg holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) as well as the Senior Certified Professional (SCP) designation.

Kellogg works at as keynote speaker and workshop presenter. In 2022, Kellogg was a keynote speaker for McLean and Company on the topic of employee well-being. Kellogg also presented at TEDx Omaha and spoke on the topic of normalizing mental health conversations in the workplace.

Precious Lesley

Precious Lesley

Precious, an AuDHD (Autistic/ADHD) adult, is dedicated to providing education and establishing authentic relationships with job seekers and employers. She is the Founder & Principal Consultant at Loud Nerd. Loud Nerd helps neurodivergent individuals navigate the complex job search process, while also assisting employers in building diverse and inclusive teams and workplace cultures that promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA). As a Black, autistic woman, Precious has personal experience with the compounded effects of racism, sexism, and ableism and incorporates an intersectional perspective in her work, encouraging other disability advocates, DEI practitioners and employers to do the same.

Susie Owens

Susie Owens

Susie Owens currently serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at MENTOR Nebraska where she creates partnerships with nonprofits, corporations, higher education institutions, and donors to expand mentoring opportunities across Nebraska. Susie is a highly skilled nonprofit and education leader with experience building cross-industry partnerships; executing and measuring programs; and developing onboarding, leadership and training programs. She has a background in workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is passionate about making Nebraska a more inclusive and equitable place.

Susie earned a bachelor’s degree in human development and family science and a master’s degree in leadership education from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Susie brings more than 10 years of career and volunteerism experience uplifting the dignity and humanity of first-generation college goers, Black women and girls and young people of all backgrounds. She is a board member for I Be Black Girl (IBBG), voting member of the IBBG Giving Circle and serves on the Omaha Community Foundation’s African American Unity Fund Review Committee. Susie is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the University of Nebraska Alumni of Color Network Advisory Council. She is also a mentor for CODE’s Growing Home program

Sarah Phelps

Sarah Phelps Headshot

Sarah Phelps is the Director of Operations and Programs at OutNebraska- a statewide education and advocacy organization that is working to celebrate and empower thriving LGBTQIA+ communities. With degrees in history and international relations and over 20 years of non-profit and corporate experience, Sarah brings a strategic, inclusive, and innovative approach to programming and thought leadership. Sarah is a co-founder of Leaders for Equity, Allyship and Diversity, facilitator for Inclusive Communities, content strategist for multiple entrepreneur and DEI groups, and a member of FlowLAB startup community, and Anti-Racist Leaders Association. She specializes in founding boards and is currently on the boards of MomPower Inc, The Umbrella Alliance, and Rainbow Rest Stop. In her free time, Sarah gardens, moonlights as a jazz and blues singer, and reads voraciously (150+ books per year, 5-9 newspapers per day).

Dr. DérNecia Phillips


Dr. DérNecia Phillips is a professional educator, activist, strategist, poet, mentor, speaker, and consultant who prides herself on

being a champion for both education and her community. She has almost 20 years of experience as a public and non-public

school educator with service in roles from teacher to principal to principal coach. She holds advanced degrees from Creighton

University and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and

superintendent endorsement. DérNecia leveraged her expertise to found DAL Education & Care Solutions, an education

consulting company providing leadership development, mentoring solutions, and support-focused practices to schools and

organizations with education outcomes. She is a strong advocate for women’s empowerment, mentoring at all levels, and also

leads equity work centering the beauty, voices, and support needs of the Black community.

Shanda Ross

Shanda Ross

Shanda Ross, MSN is the Director of engagement outreach and belonging at Nebraska Medicine. Shanda has a been a nurse for 24 years and served as President of the Omaha Black Nurses Association and serves as the current leader of the Salem Baptist Medical Ministry, board member of JDRF and Pink Lotus in the Omaha Community. Community health and engagement are her passion. Shanda is passionate about serving her community, patients and colleagues on campus. As the Director of engagement outreach and belonging Shanda is accountable for the development, implementation and assessment of policies, programs and practices that enrich the patient and family experience, engagement of colleagues and the broader community and oversight of the ERG’s creating a sense of belonging with all she comes into contact with.

Claudia Schabel

Claudia Schabel

Claudia is the Founder, President and CEO of Schabel Solutions, a full-service strategic DEI consulting firm helping organizations normalize inclusive behaviors, operationalize equity and build the skills, confidence and plans needed to achieve and sustain successful workforces, workplaces and marketplace/community outcomes. Her approach combines over 20 years of DEI and human resources practitioner experience, largely with Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, with her international, multicultural background. Her expertise and background positions the firm to offer impactful consulting, training and coaching services in the areas of DEI and cultural competency.

A former commissioner on the City of Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission, Claudia now serves on the Iowa Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) State Council as the Director of Diversity. She also serves on the Business Record’s Racial Equity Advisory Board as well as the boards of the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Science Center of Iowa and Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.

Evan Schweitz

Evan Schweitz

Evan Schweitz grew up in Nebraska and attended UNL, where he spent a semester studying Portuguese and Urbanism in Fortaleza, Brazil. Seeing the efficiency of their bus system and its ability to deliver independence and upward mobility to people from all walks of life inspired Evan to consider how to bring these same benefits back to his community. In 2017, Evan obtained a Masters of Urban Studies from UNO, focusing his capstone on Transit-Oriented Development opportunities in North Omaha. With more than 13 years of experience at Metro Transit, Evan has worked on projects such as restructuring Omaha’s bus routes in 2015, serving on the design team for the Dodge Street ORBT line, and continually engaging with the community to seek improvements to the city’s public transportation system.

Mynesha Spencer

Mynesha Spencer

Mynesha is the Founder, CEO and Principal Inclusion Strategist at All of Us Together Co., a human relations firm that specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and was established to improve human relations by driving DEI strategy, competencies and outcomes. The firm works to ensure the large and small workforces, public and private K-collegiate educational entities, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and municipal, state and federal entities become the most inclusive versions of themselves. 

Amber Stozier

Amber Stozier

Abbi Swatsworth

Abbi Swatsworth

Abbi Swatsworth is the Executive Director of OutNebraska- a statewide education and advocacy organization that is working to celebrate and empower thriving LGBTQIA+ communities. With a degree in Social Work and more than 20 years of nonprofit experience, she brings. an important perspective to her work. Abbi is a member of Lincoln Rotary #14, the Lincoln Mayor’s Commission on Women and Gender, and serves on the advisory board of the Lincoln/Lancaster Women’s Foundation and Omaha’s Huespring. In her free time, Abbi enjoys all things women’s sports, loves to cook, and spending time with her grandchildren. 

Maggie Thompson

Maggie Thompson is a Senior Organizational Development & Talent Management Specialist at Nebraska Medicine, where she works collaboratively with key stakeholders to establish and execute strategic initiatives in the areas of leader and colleague development, organizational culture, talent management, organizational design, and DEI/leadership integration. She is proudly neurodivergent and has served as the founding President of two employee resource groups focused on colleagues impacted by disability. Maggie holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She resides in her hometown of Lincoln with her husband and 2 children.

Darla Wilkerson

Darla Wilkerson

Darla is Chief Executive Officer since 2019 and drives the vision, direction and overall success of the organization. She presents the mission of CDI and message of disability inclusion in the workplace through focused consultation and training with business partners and other organizations. She has over 37 years of expertise consulting with business and people with disabilities to enhance disability inclusion. Darla has addressed national and international audiences and delivered training to thousands of corporate, government, and non-profit organizations. She also identifies as a person with a disability since acquiring a brain injury in 2006 and she understands the challenges that many face when obtaining and maintaining employment. She holds a master’s degree in public administration with a non-profit emphasis from University of Missouri-Kansas City and has served on many national and statewide boards focusing on increased employment for people with disabilities. Partnering with businesses to assist in elevating inclusion in the workplace is her passion.

2023 Sponsors

The Conference is made possible by the generous contributions of several organizations. Thank you for your support.

Interested in being a sponsor for 2024? Contact Anne Branigan with questions.




Mutual of Omaha


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Scoular logo
Valmont logo



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North End Teleservices


North End Teleservices


Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity and Equity

The Greater Omaha Chamber’s Commitment to Opportunity, Diversity and Equity (CODE) initiative works to address diversity, inclusivity, equity and access to opportunity in Greater Omaha. We are forming an employer coalition that aims to rally the business community to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace by working collectively across organizations and sectors. All companies are encouraged to join us.

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By registering and participating in this event, you consent to the recording of your likeness, image and/or voice and authorize the Greater Omaha Chamber to use photographs, videos and audio recordings containing your likeness, image and/or voice in any medium for any purpose.


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