Tag Archives: Omaha Jaycees

Sexual Justice Warrior

December 21, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sex videos are popular on the internet. Even academic ones. Just ask Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s School of Health & Kinesiology.

Her 2016 TEDx talk has been viewed more than 2.5 million times online. In the lecture, Jawed-Wessel discusses society’s objectification of women as tools of men’s sexual pleasure (with little value placed on their own satisfaction), and how this view dramatically changes during pregnancy to one of non-sexual beings whose sole purpose is reproduction.

She has become an internationally recognized expert in her field of research. In November 2018, Jawed-Wessel traveled to Islamabad, Pakistan, to present the keynote address at the country’s National Institute of Psychology annual conference.

“My niche area of research focuses on understanding the sexual health of women and couples as they transition into parenthood by documenting sexual behaviors, sexual function, relationship adjustment, and sexual changes during pregnancy and after childbirth,” she explains.

On top of her professorship, Jawed-Wessel is the associate director of the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative. She also holds a joint appointment with the Women and Gender Studies program at UNO and a courtesy appointment in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her teachings utilize a sex-positive and pleasure-inclusive approach to providing medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education to her undergraduate students.

Jawed-Wessel, 35, didn’t initially set her sights on becoming a sex researcher. The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, she was born in the U.S. and raised with three siblings in a traditional family in Indiana.

“My mom stayed at home and my father worked multiple jobs,” she says. “We were a working-class family.”

Seeing her parents struggle likely prompted the inquisitive youngster to make education a priority. She went on to earn three bachelor’s degrees—in biology, psychology, and English—from Indiana University.

She volunteered as an assistant in a few labs and says she “fell in love” with sex science. “The specific focus on sex during and after pregnancy came to me as my relationship with feminism grew,” she adds. “I did not like how we divorce sexuality and motherhood, and the more I worked with pregnant women, I saw how their psyche was impacted by this forced de-sexualization.”

She went on to earn a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. in health behavior, also from Indiana University, home to the Kinsey Institute (named after its founder, the famous American biologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey). She joined the UNO faculty in 2012.

Jawed-Wessel says her long-term research goal is to understand how women’s intimate relationships are impacted by sexual and maternal objectification. She also believes in “conducting research that will help promote women’s and LGBTQ rights and reproductive justice values, and, therefore, science that will support or push back against policy and systems-level change,” she says. With this public engagement in mind, she has provided expert testimony for the Nebraska Unicameral, the Nebraska Board of Education, and the Omaha Public School Board of Education.

For her work, Jawed-Wessel was a 2017 recipient of the Women’s Center for Advancement’s Tribute to Women Award (and was the luncheon’s keynote speaker in 2018). She was also named among the 2017 Ten Outstanding Young Omahans by the Omaha Jaycees.

In 2018, her Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative received one of the first Equality Fund grants ($40,000) from the Omaha Community Foundation to conduct work that will increase LGBTQ equality in Omaha. “Community engagement and my research go hand in hand; one without the other means lesser impact,” she says. “I want to see my science put into action.”

When not teaching, conducting research, or traveling for speaking engagements, Jawed-Wessel says she enjoys hosting dinner parties for close friends. “If I cook you an elaborate Pakistani meal, that means I really love you,” she confides. She’s also the proud mom of two young boys, 9 and 3.


Find more information about the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative on Facebook at @unomshrc and Twitter at @1mshrc.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Correction: Dr. Sofia Jawed-Wessel is an “associate professor,” not “assistant professor,” as noted in the print edition. 

2018 January/February Giving Events

December 27, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

Featured Event:
Feb. 10 (7-9 p.m.)
Dancing With the Omaha Stars
Ralston Arena
dancingwiththeomahastars.com
It’s back! Omaha stars Tony Veland, Chinh Doan, Jared Robinson, Miss Omaha, and others will strut their stuff in front of a panel of judges that includes Tom Osbourne, Mayor Jean Stothert, and Todd Schmaderer. While the Mirror Ball goes to the dancer who scores the highest, the other revered trophy in this contest is the Bella Award, given to the star who raises the most money for TeamMates.


Jan. 10 (6-9 p.m.)
Outland Trophy Award Dinner
Benefiting: The Greater Omaha Sports Committee
Location: Downtown DoubleTree
showofficeonline.com

Jan. 12 (6-9 p.m.)
Celebration of Life Dinner Fundraiser
Benefiting: Nebraskans United for Life
Location: DC Centre
nebraskansunitedforlife.org

Jan. 19 (5-7 p.m.)
Victory Boxing Club Seventh Annual Banquet
Benefiting: Victory Boxing Club
Location: Bellevue Christian Center
victoryboxingclub.org

Jan. 20 (6-10:30 p.m.)
Midlands Community Foundation Reflection Ball
Benefiting: Midlands Community Foundation
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
midlandscommunity.org

Jan. 25 (5-9 p.m.)
Girls Nite Out
Benefiting: Girls Inc.
Location: Hilton Downtown
girlsincomaha.org

Jan. 27 (5:30-10 p.m.)
Rockin’ Rosie
Benefiting: The Rose Theater Guild
Location: Omaha Marriott Downtown
rosetheater.org

Jan. 28 (5-9 p.m.)
GLOW
Benefiting: Essential Pregnancy Services
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
friendsofeps.org

Feb. 2 (5-10 p.m.)
MarianFEST 2018: Life is Sweet at Marian
Benefiting: Marian High School
Location: Omaha Hilton
marianhighschool.net

Feb. 3 (9 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Ultra Chic Boutique and The Dress Flip
Benefiting: The Alzheimer’s Association
Location: A View on State
maxiwalker.com/ucb

Heart and Stroke Ball

Feb. 3 (5 p.m.-midnight)
Omaha Heart & Stroke Ball
Benefiting: American Heart Association
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
heart.org

Feb. 10 (6-9 p.m.)
Carnival of Love Gala
Benefiting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
heartlandfamilyservice.org

Curly Tails and Cocktails

Feb. 10 (6-10 p.m.)
Curly Tails and Cocktails
Benefiting: Pug Partners of Nebraska
Location: Arbor Hall
pugpartners.com

Feb. 10 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Heart Bombing
Benefiting: Restoration Exchange Omaha
Location: TBA
restorationexchange.org

Feb. 10 (6-11 p.m.)
Swing Under the Wings
Benefiting: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum
Location: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum
sacmuseum.org

Feb. 10 (6:30-10 p.m.)
Winter at the Beach
Benefiting: Wings of Hope
Location: Mid-America Center
wingsofhope.org

Feb. 10 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Polar Plunge
Benefiting: Special Olympics Nebraska
Location: Lake Cunningham
sone.org

Feb. 10-11 (starts 10 a.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. Sunday)
Heartland Winter Games, Floor Hockey
Benefiting: Special Olympics Nebraska
Location: UNO Campus
sone.org

Feb. 13 (6-9 p.m.)
Ten Outstanding Young Omahans Banquet
Benefiting: Omaha Jaycees
Location: Scoular Ballroom
omahajaycees.org

Trek up the Tower

Feb. 17 (7 a.m.-noon)
Trek Up the Tower
Benefiting: WELLCOM
Location: First National Bank Tower
trekupthetower.org

Feb. 17 (4:30-10 p.m.)
Mercy: The Gold Standard (Fiesta 2018)
Benefiting: Mercy High School
Location: La Vista Conference Center
mercyhigh.org

Feb. 22-24 (6:30-9 p.m.)
A Tasteful Murder
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle Trust
Location: Joslyn Castle
joslyncastle.com

Feb. 17 (noon-4 p.m.)
Barstool Open
Benefiting: United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska
Location: The Old Market
ucpnebraska.org

Feb. 24 (1-4 p.m.)
Uncorked
Benefiting: Angels Among Us
Location: Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse
myangelsamongus.org

Feb. 24 (6 p.m.-midnight)
Country Side of a Cure
Benefiting: JDRF
Location: CenturyLink Center
jdrf.org

Perfect Pour

Feb. 24 (7-11 p.m.)
Perfect Pour
Benefiting: Nebraska Children and Families Association
Location: Slowdown
nebraskachildren.org

Feb. 25 (1-5 p.m.)
Art & Soup
Benefiting: Visiting Nurse Association
Location: Embassy Suites La Vista
vnatoday.org

Times and dates subject to change.  Check organization’s websites for updated details.

This article appears as part of the calendar of events in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.