Tag Archives: Omaha

Bellevue Public Schools Foundation

October 13, 2017 by

The Big Give was published in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine. To view this sponsored content as it was printed, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/omahamagazine_1017_2_125/70


Bellevue Public Schools Foundation partners with the community to provide financial support otherwise not available to help enhance educational opportunities for the students and staff of the district.


Bellevue Public Schools Foundation relies on contributions from the community, staff, alumni, and others to expand what is possible for Bellevue Public Schools. Earned income pieces like Kids’ Time before- and-after-school daycare and the internal operations of the BPS Lied Activity Center help cover overhead expenses and currently offer the opportunity for 100 percent of donor dollars to directly fund programs and services.


  • Since January of 2016, the Bellevue Public Schools Foundation has awarded:
  • more than $55,000 in Classroom Innovation Grants
  • $24,000 in Student Scholarships
  • nearly $12,000 in National Academic Trip Assistance
  • nearly $3,000 to Operation Read Quiz Bowl Challenge
  • nearly $4,500 to Bellevue’s 8-12 Spring Choral Festival
  • more than $3,000 toward Bellevue Alumni Association assistance
  • more than $85,500 in a variety of student, teacher, district, and community supports


Thanks to sponsors, donors,
and volunteers, Bellevue Public Schools Foundation is able to provide widespread support to Bellevue’s growing needs in education. A favorite win-win is being able to promote people and businesses as event sponsors— either for the Purple Apple Gala in the fall or the Community Breakfast in the spring. Other opportunities to show support throughout the year include the BPSF Annual Campaign, Giving Tuesday, and Omaha Gives.


  • Donors of unrestricted funds are always at the top of the BPSF Wish List!
  • Gala sponsors for the BPS Foundation Purple Apple Gala
  • Auction items for the BPS Foundation Purple Apple Gala
  • Volunteers for the BPS Foundation Purple Apple Gala
  • Sponsors for the BPS Foundation Community Breakfast
  • Volunteers for the BPS Foundation Community Breakfast
  • Office Volunteers


BPS Foundation Purple Apple Gala Oct. 26, 2017

BPS Foundation Community Breakfast April 19, 2018







2820 Arboretum Drive Suite 603 Bellevue, NE 68005

American Legacy Complex

Photography by Provided

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/44

Interaction with horses can bolster empathy and cognitive abilities in children, and there is no denying the appeal horses have to kids and adults. For nearly 20 years, American Legacy Complex has offered children the opportunity to interact with horses in a positive environment.

Owner Dorothy Turley attributes this success to their youth programs. “We give city kids the opportunity to learn about horses,” she says.



7193 County Road 40
Omaha, NE 68122

Great Scot!

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

He began serving as the vice president of LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Heartland Pride last fall, but David Kerr hails from nowhere near Nebraska. The Glasgow, Scotland, native followed love to Omaha in 2013, and although his relationship ended, his business venture, The Tavern, blossomed in the heart of the Old Market. Today, Kerr jokes about printing cards to answer the daily question of how and why he ended up in the middle of America, but maintains he’s found a good fit in his adopted city.

“Omaha is hugely supportive of young entrepreneurs and business startups, and they have a sense of community here that you would never find anywhere else to nurture someone like that,” he says. Kerr prides himself on running an inclusive establishment that welcomes all; he’s even one of the first locally to offer gender-neutral bathrooms.

In turn, his business supports numerous nonprofits by serving as an event venue, participating in giving program Together A Greater Good (TAGG), and even directly supporting fundraising efforts. Kerr’s interest in giving back to the community began an ocean away, but one particular cause will always be close.

David Kerr

“Before I called Omaha my home, I volunteered for an LGBTQ+ organization in London called ‘The Albert Kennedy Trust,’ and they did some incredible work. And it really gave me an appetite to work for change no matter where I am,” he says.

The 1969 Stonewall riots are largely regarded as the catalyst that brought forth the U.S. gay pride movement. Heartland Pride’s official beginnings trace back to 1985. It’s a better world today for most LGBTQ+ people, Kerr says, but there’s still work to be done.

“Since then it’s remained crucial to our community to remain visible and proud. It’s easy to get complacent when we make strides,” he says. “For the gay community, it’s still relevant because honoring and celebrating our culture is still relevant.”

Dozens of countries around the world still criminalize same-sex activities, Kerr points out, and in eight countries death is a legal punishment.

“It’s important to remember the tradition of honoring those who went before us, the ones who were denied their human rights, and the ones who physically lost their lives as well. It’s important to still get out and be proud to honor those lives and shine a beacon of hope to people around the world. There are people who are suffering way more than people here in the United States,” he says. “We’re not acing it here by any means, but at least we’re making strides.

Allies should take notice, too, he adds. Locals may associate Heartland Pride with its annual June parade and surrounding events, but it’s also an important fundraiser for the nonprofit—run completely by volunteer efforts—whose activities include a scholarship program, a community action grant, and several youth programs.

“It’s obvious in this political climate that anyone’s rights can be called into question at any point by any government, and that’s not just true for the United States. Things are not static; they’re constantly moving, so we need to remain proud and visible so that no one ever does infringe upon our rights again,” Kerr says. “And that’s true for many communities, not just LGBT.”

Visit heartlandpride.org for more information about Omaha’s LGBTQ+ community.

This article appears as part of the September/October 2017 edition of Encounter Magazine.

Viva la Gusto!

October 12, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Roberto W. Meireles left Cuba when he was 14 years old. After years working as an engineer in Florida, he eventually found himself in charge of Omaha’s only Cuban restaurant, Gusto Cuban Café.

Meireles’ journey to eventually owning and running a restaurant with his wife, Ana Barajas De Meireles, is a story of a man from the Caribbean falling in love with the city of Omaha.

Meireles first learned of Omaha through the coupons he found in Reader’s Digest while he was a child living in Aguada de Pasajeros, Cuba. Before the magazine ceased to be available to Cuban residents, Meireles would pore through the magazine and fill out all the coupons in hopes of having something sent back to him.

“That was the only thing I knew about Omaha,” Meireles says. “That it had Mutual of Omaha.”

His 1966 escape from Cuba separated Meireles from his parents. He lived with an uncle in Miami while working and attending school.

Meireles made his true connections with Omaha in adulthood, after meeting a Nebraskan couple on a cruise. Luis and Connie Canal first approached Meireles when they heard him speaking Spanish, and throughout the course of the cruise, they became very close—to the point that they continued to visit Meireles and his ex-wife in Florida. On each visit, Luis and Connie would invite them to come see what Omaha had to offer.  

“In 2004, we came in December. I had never seen snow before, and I wanted to see snow,” Meireles says.

He was so impressed with the city that he purchased a home so he could visit during the winter. After his divorce, Meireles moved all his belongings to Omaha late in 2006 to take up permanent residence in his winter vacation house. Retiring from his engineering job after 25 years in the industry, Meireles set out to open a Cuban restaurant.

“I wanted to live in Omaha because I didn’t want to stay in Miami anymore.” Meireles says. “When I found this, I found paradise.”

He praises the Midwest’s climate and the dire need of Cuban cuisine in Omaha. He emphasizes the stark difference between Cuban food and other Latin American foods—Cuban food does not feature tortillas, and the primary meat is pork as opposed to chicken or beef.

For several months Meireles’ routine consisted of waking up early in the morning to work on the restaurant and working at his other job late into the evening. After more than half a year of work, Gusto Cuban Café opened its doors Oct. 18, 2007.

What truly sets Gusto Cuban Café aside from the typical restaurant is the effort that Meireles and Barajas De Meireles have poured into it. Nearly everything in the restaurant has been crafted or repaired by the Meireleses. They even built all the furniture bearing the restaurant’s logo.

“We are jacks of all trades. Whatever needs to be done, wherever I need to be is where I’m at.” Barajas De Meireles says. “I go anywhere from waiting tables, being the cook, bartending, or whatever is necessary.”

Another unique aspect Meireles brings to the restaurant scene is his refusal to use recipes. Instead, he measures ingredients by eye, preparing food the way his family did.

Barajas De Meireles, who met Meireles through Gusto Cuban Café, works as a nurse during the day and, after her shifts, rushes to Gusto Cuban to help with the evening operations.

“My wife is basically the same way as me. She likes this craziness, that is why we have so much in common.” Meireles says.

The couple makes it clear that running the restaurant is an all-hands-on-deck operation, and they lend their success to their loyal customer base and desire to solve issues themselves.

“Sometimes I sit here inside of the restaurant and look at everything and think, ‘I can’t believe I did all this.’” Meireles says.

Visit gustocubancafe.com for more information.

This article published in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Armana Chanel

October 11, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Golfer Lorii Myers once said that true sportsmanship means taking the high road and walking off the course with pride whether you win or lose. Omaha’s Armana Chanel is definitely walking the high road to golfing success on the national mini-tour circuit (the minor leagues of professional golf).

Born and raised in Omaha as Armana Chanel Christianson, Chanel has always been an athlete.

“I played pretty much every sport you can think of before the age of 12: racquetball, basketball, soccer, swimming, volleyball, tennis, track, taekwondo, softball,” Chanel says. “Golf was the last sport I tried before going to high school, and it just kind of clicked.”

The Millard North graduate got her major start in golf playing Division I at Creighton University, later playing Division II golf at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

“For me, golf is one of the most frustrating but rewarding things I have ever done,” Chanel says. “I am competitive, so I really enjoy and look forward to tournaments.”

Chanel says, as do most golfers, that the game is a way of life.

“You can practice every day for hours and still have things to work on the next week or next month,” says Chanel, a self-described perfectionist who loves a fun challenge. “It’s a constant learning process; it never ends. A lot of what I get from golf is internal.”

Chanel says she has been fortunate to not encounter many external setbacks, but being a female athlete in any sport comes with its own unique frustrations.

“There are little things that have made it difficult to be a woman playing a sport seriously. In high school it was subtle things like my name not being announced after I won state. Now it’s things like, if I want sponsorships or exemptions, it’s important to have a really strong social media following,” Chanel says of her growing and supportive fan base. “I have a pretty good following on social media, and I’m pretty open about my journey and how I play. I get a lot of messages of support; it’s pretty nice to see.”

“For me, it feels like it’s not a matter of IF I make it, but WHEN I make it. I have partial status on the Symetra Tour [previously known as the LPGA Futures Tour], which is a stage below the LPGA.”

Many athletes are goal-oriented by nature, and Chanel hopes to see herself progress athletically and professionally.

“Right now, my goal is [entering the] LPGA. I’m working hard on my game, my equipment, my fitness, and my mental game to make sure I make it there. For me, it feels like it’s not a matter of if I make it, but when I make it. I have partial status on the Symetra Tour [previously known as the LPGA Futures Tour], which is a stage below the LPGA. I’m hoping to be able to play in a few of those events towards the end of the season.”

Chanel also sought to improve her status at the LPGA Qualifying Tournament (also known as Q-School) in August. Stage I of the tournament began at Mission Hills Country Club on August 21-27 at Rancho Mirage, California. Stages II and III follow in Florida during October through December.

Until she advances to the LPGA Tour, she remains fighting to break out of the minors.

“Playing on mini tours is a lot of hours, a lot of traveling, and for very little money,” Chanel says. “I played well enough last year that I was able to break even. But I love the game and the competition, and have such a strong desire to play at the highest level, so I’ll continue to do what I need to keep competing and getting better.”

Visit armanachristianson.com and follow Chanel on Twitter, @ArmanaChanel, for more information.

This article was printed in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Planting Tech Talent

October 10, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nicole Shobanjo is an information technology student who could be forced to move away from Omaha after she earns her computer programming degree from Metropolitan Community College.

The 38-year-old—a stay-at-home mom who operates an in-house day care business when she’s not studying—says there is a lack of IT-based careers in the greater Omaha metro.

“I don’t want to have to [go to] school here and then leave,” she says. “I feel like the market is locked down.”

Shobanjo says Metro provides opportunities for IT students with assistance in securing internships and possible jobs after graduation. She also says they pair students with tutors, counselors, and advisers. With her busy schedule, she says those resources help—especially on days when landing her dream job in Omaha feels unlikely.

However, a future tech career for Shobanjo and other hopefuls in the Omaha area is looking brighter because of an initiative called Tech Talent Growth. The long-term plan, spearheaded by the Greater Omaha Chamber and AIM Institute, calls for the metro to have at least 20,000 tech workers by 2020. AIM is a nonprofit that dedicates resources to the metro’s local tech talent through career development and educational programs.

Tech Talent Growth wants to take 500 workers from non-IT jobs and plant them into the tech industry. They want to create a population shift, moving 1,250 people from cities outside of the Omaha metro and bringing them here. According to their statistics, 2,500 tech graduates also should flow into the metro population. Keeping them here is the real challenge, says Holly Benson, tech talent manager at the chamber and AIM.

In 2015, there were about 15,700 tech jobs in the Omaha metro. Organization officials say the addition of these 4,250 jobs during the next five years could boost the Omaha metro’s economy by $1 billion.

Benson says one of the major challenges to bringing that many skilled workers to Omaha will be making the city more appealing to big name tech companies and a future workforce. With the help of area colleges, businesses, and community leaders, she says it’s a realistic goal.

Benson, who moved from Northern California to Omaha, says the city is already making great progress in providing desirable quality-of-life offerings for up-and-coming tech talent.

“Part of this project is bringing visibility to Omaha,” Benson says of the city’s future as a tech hub. “There’s a lot of opportunities at people’s fingertips. They just don’t know where to look.”

She adds Omaha doesn’t feel “saturated,” like larger cities. At her previous job, Benson commuted hours each day to work at Google.

“I really enjoy a slower pace, owning a home, and having a 15-minute commute,” she says. “Everyone is really genuine and authentic here, which is different than some of the larger markets.”

Tech Talent Growth poises to benefit local IT students such as Shobanjo, who’s already thought about moving to Dallas with her husband. Shobanjo says he has struggled to find tech work in Omaha.

It’s a simple formula—if Shobanjo can’t find IT work, her family will probably move. This is something Tech Talent Growth has acknowledged as an issue in the Omaha metro.

“There clearly is a gap in what the area is producing and the needs of the businesses,” Benson says. “I think the talent exists, but due to the demand, we need to [recruit] the tech talent.”

The group is addressing the issue with the mindset to “develop, attract, and retain talent” locally. Part of it is working with existing partners to help provide summer programs, after-school opportunities, and weekend opportunities for youths interested in technology careers. In fact, Shobanjo is one of those people, who discovered a passion for the tech field at a young age. It started with building parts of computers and customizing hardware.

“It has been in my heart since I was younger,” Shobanjo says.

Tech Talent Growth is teaming up with educational institutions, businesses, and the community to attract IT jobs with competitive salaries to ensure professional growth and attract new talent. Ideal progress would be increased enrollment in, and completion of, local university college programs. The organization wants to create a scholarship for future students and establish a one-stop online shop for youth tech opportunities. They also want to be inclusive to minorities, women, veterans, and low-income students.

Tech Talent Growth is working with K-12 schools, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Omaha Code School, and Iowa Western Community College to inform students about local opportunities.

“It’s a community project,” Benson says. “What we’re seeing with the Silicon Prairie hat is that we’re not the first place people think of when it comes to tech.”

While keeping an emphasis on local occupations, Tech Talent Growth will help create a stronger identity in the Midwest with IT-related opportunities in Omaha.

“That’s why it’s incredibly important for us to be educating our youth at every age,” Benson emphasizes.

Visit omahachamber.org for more information.

This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.

Holly Benson

From Quill to 

October 8, 2017 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the word “cursive” comes from the Latin “currere,” meaning “to run.” The humble beginnings of this elegant script trace back to the use of the quill, which was easily broken and slow to use. Cursive was created to save time. The dynamic technological world of today is far removed from quills and ink, and computers can accomplish the same task—and more—in a shorter amount of time.

2014 Archdiocese of Omaha Educator of the Year award recipient Mary Holtmeyer enforces cursive writing in her fourth-grade classroom: “I have heard and read about both sides,” she says about the debate over whether or not to include cursive handwriting in a curriculum.

“Until someone can show us that cursive has no value, or is detrimental to our students, I think we will still use it. There is something to be said about the discipline it takes to learn; kids need that.” At St Pius X/St. Leo School, cursive is taught in third grade and enforced throughout elementary school.

Cursive writing appears to be a dying art. The Common Core Standards, which have been adopted by 42 states since their inception in 2010, eliminated handwriting in favor of keyboarding.

According to several studies, including those by UCLA and Princeton Universities, paraphrasing and reprocessing lecture information into one’s own words on paper allows the student to understand concepts more completely than typing the same words on a computer screen.

“Handwriting is tactile,” Holtmeyer re-affirms, “it uses parts of the brain that typing does not, and cursive, specifically, keeps students with dyslexia and dysgraphia from mixing up their letters.”

According to an article from Psychology Today, handwriting is linked to activating the vertical occipital fasciculus section of the brain. These portions of the brain are not activated while typing or texting.

Holtmeyer didn’t want to downplay the importance of technology in teaching. She emphasizes her dedication to helping students become well-rounded and capable people who are ready for the future.

“Academia is leaning toward technology. I’d like to hang on to kids thinking more critically instead of jumping straight to Google. I want them to be ready for their future, and I want them to be independent, critical thinkers that stand on their own two feet.”

A teacher of 25 years, Holtmeyer has evolved her teaching style to reflect the world her students experience. She does a lot with technology in her classroom, including her own use of Smart Boards, document cameras, and various other tools. She involves her students via the use of  Twitter (tweeting is one of the “classroom jobs” she assigns) and other projects. “They like [technology],” she says, “but I think it takes away a little bit of the individualism.”

Handwriting is like a fingerprint, each person has their own unique style that is never replicated exactly. “[Cursive] is a very personal thing. We encourage that.” 

This article was printed in the Fall 2017 edition of Family Guide.

Ardith Starostka

October 6, 2017 by
Photography by Katie Anderson

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/omahamagazine_1017_2_125/60

Ardith Starostka is an internationally recognized, award-winning figurative artist who creates stunning portraits out of her private art studio. Although her work appears in prestigious museums and collections (including the White House), her work could be commissioned
to adorn the walls of your home or office.


The Nebraska-based artist’s work—sought after for its realistic yet romantic qualities— has been published in magazines and books; meanwhile, Starostka has received a dizzying

array of awards and recognitions from the arts community. Her accolades are listed on the “about” page of her website.

Starostka’s gallery is not open to the general public, but she allows access to her private art studio by appointment.

She is available for commissioned paintings, specializing in portraits that are “men
or women, formal or creative,” she says, adding with a laugh that as long as it falls

within the “realm of figurative,” she can paint anything and anyone—including children, pets, and posthumous portraits.

Art connoisseurs can contact Starostka to discuss commissioning a painting or having a look at completed pieces from her impressive collection now available for purchase.




Ballet Nebraska

The Big Give was published in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine. To view this sponsored content as it was printed, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/omahamagazine_1017_2_125/70


Ballet Nebraska provides enrichment through quality professional dance performances, educational programs, and community outreach.


Ballet Nebraska’s talented professional dancers hail from around the nation and abroad, making the Midwest their home to share the excitement of dance with others. Through the company’s expressive performing artists, acclaimed choreographers, and skilled teachers, Ballet Nebraska plays a key role in the cultural vitality of the region.


  • Founded by visionary artistic director Erika Overturff
  • The Nutcracker attracts 7,000 mainstage viewers
  • Outreach programs attract an additional 7,500 students
  • Coming season highlights Broadway superstar Ann Reinking to stage a Bob Fosse medley for its fall Momentum
  • Spring performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Repertoire includes Swan Lake, Giselle, and Valse Fantaisie
  • Outreach tickets and learning opportunities for 1,000 underserved
  • Partnerships with 23 social service agencies
  • Collaborations with other leading organizations


  • Ballet Nebraska is a 501(c)3 non- profit organization.
  • Become a season subscriber
  • Donate as an individual or corporation
  • Become a sponsor
  • Join the Ballet Nebraska Guild
  • Attend a performance
  • Partner with the company to bring dance to your audience
  • Follow Ballet Nebraska on social media for updates and news


  • Season sponsorships
  • Production sponsorships
  • Education and outreach sponsorships
  • Artist, costume, and scenic sponsorships
  • Individual donations
  • In-kind donations
  • Guild volunteers


Ballet Nebraska presents Momentum: Fosse Style!
Oct. 20 and 22, 2017

The Nutcracker Gala

Dec. 1, 2017

The Nutcracker

Nov. 19, and Dec. 2 and 3, 2017

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May 5 and 6, 2018





P.O. Box 6413 Omaha, NE 68106

Valmont Industries Inc.

This sponsored content appeared in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B. To view, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/bb1117_final_flipbook/42

Global Leadership Grown from Midwestern Roots

Like most great companies, Valmont began with one person who had a vision, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a strong desire to create something of lasting value. So strong was that desire, he put his life savings—$5,000—on the line. That man was Robert B. “Bob” Daugherty.

In 1946, following the war, Frank Daugherty (Bob’s uncle and mentor) encouraged Bob to consider business opportunities. Bob took his uncle’s advice, investing in a farm machine shop in Valley, Nebraska. From those humble beginnings grew Valmont. The company leads the world in the five primary business segments: engineered support structures, coatings, irrigation, utility support structures, and energy and mining. Valmont conducts business in over 100 countries, and its 10,000 employees operate from facilities in more than 23 different countries. Valmont is publicly traded on the NYSE under the symbol (VMI).

Making a Difference Every Day

Valmont creates ever-improving lighting and traffic structures to guide the way, communications towers that keep people connected, utility structures that bring power to homes and businesses, and irrigation equipment that helps grow the food to feed a growing world population.

If you’ve driven under the lights of the Dodge Street expressway, been to a game at TD Ameritrade Park, or noticed a Valley Irrigation center pivot irrigating a field, Valmont has touched your life. Valmont’s products can be found on the Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago’s Navy Pier, Daytona International Speedway, the Copenhagen Opera House, and Singapore’s Garden by the Bay.

Valmont touches billions of people around the world every day. According to the International Energy Agency, 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity. Valmont is helping to design and build the infrastructure that will bring it to them. The United Nations reports that by 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people. Valmont is at the forefront, helping ag producers manage the finite fresh water supply required to feed the world’s growing population.

A Steel Company Focused on People

Valmont’s culture places a premium on its employees having passion for its products. All 10,000-plus members of the global Valmont family pride themselves on being people of integrity who excel at delivering results. With nearly 30 percent of all promotions coming from within, employees at every level have opportunities to take their careers in any direction and to nearly any place in the world.

According to Valmont Utility Engineer Barbara Cunningham, “You can learn about yourself and fine-tune your professional goals at Valmont. Some people start in one field, then find that their passion is in one of the other departments. Valmont will foster and encourage this type of growth.”

Valmont’s Midwestern roots continue to move the company forward. Dig deeper, and one will find those roots are the people who comprise Valmont and the culture that unites them.

1 Valmont Plaza
Omaha, NE 68154