Humanities Nebraska has a mission to ensure that humanities experiences are available across the state, from west to east, and everywhere in between.
I sit on the Humanities Nebraska governing board. One recent meeting was held in western Nebraska. While there, board member Jaclyn Wilson invited us to her family’s ranch in the Sandhills about an hour outside of Alliance.
Jaclyn had aspirations of being a lobbyist, so she could have left the Sandhills. She chose to return to her roots after college, worked her family ranch, and as the years progressed also founded her own business, Flying Diamond Genetics. Listening to her talk about legacy, values, and the challenges of female business ownership in western Nebraska caused me to reflect and compare her dedication to another strong businessperson making her mark in eastern Nebraska, Susan Koenig.
Susan is a south Omaha native, and like Jaclyn, hasn’t fallen far from her tree. She could have left but stayed in south O and is founder and partner of Koenig Dunne, a successful law firm located on 13th Street in the heart of revitalized Little Bohemia. Susan has dedicated her life to defending the under-represented, fighting for women’s rights, and promoting diversity and inclusion. She has been an ambassador of the ongoing vibrancy of her Omaha neighborhood.
Two businesswomen—one rural, one urban; one west, one east—both seek to leave legacies for future Nebraska generations.
I notice the same traits in Jaclyn and Susan regardless of their roots. They are both analytic risk-takers. These are, according to the research, masculine traits.
I see the shared trait of caretaking, a feminine quality, that serves them in their own special ways. Jaclyn gives her livestock the best possible care. She wants them to fulfill their purpose, which is to feed thousands. Susan has devoted years to building a partnership devoted to helping clients work through the divorce process that, at its best, ends in the care and shared values that brought people together in the first place.
I also see the same core values that are neither masculine or feminine. These include the value of a hard day’s work, the belief that their word is their bond, and the idea that integrity, respect, and trust are the basic covenant upon which all business deals are based.
West or east, Jaclyn and Susan have surely been asked every gender-based question possible. “Did your daddy/husband give you money to get going?” “Do you have a man help you with your books?” “How do you manage to get home to do the cooking?” As Jaclyn says, for those who ask the questions, she usually replies with a smile, and thinks of the quote, “tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Now that’s the Nebraska way.
This column was printed in the December 2019/January 2020 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.