The Heartland Project Online Source Directory

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) are proud to present a directory of sources gathered from the joint Heartland Project, a project to increase the quality of news coverage of people of color and LGBT Americans in Nebraska. Over the course of the project, various community members, nonprofit leaders, university professors and local activists in Nebraska became involved as story sources, community resources and project supporters. These contacts can be found listed here and we welcome members of the media, both in Nebraska and nationwide, to reach out to them as sources for stories. For questions about The Heartland Project, please contact Justin Seiter, AAJA Program Associate.

Christa Yoakum
Coordinator, Nebraska Is Home/You’re Welcome In Omaha
Christa Yoakum is the coordinator of Nebraska Is Home, a grassroots movement promoting mutual respect and cooperation among U.S. born and foreign born neighbors creating safe, strong and robust communities for all. She also works in the Immigrants and Communities program at Nebraska Appleseed, advocating pro-immigrant policies. Arts, positive messages, community engagement and improving local policies to support new neighbors promote immigrant integration.
After years as a health care provider, Yoakum worked at Change That Works working in communities across the state to promote health care reform. She had the opportunity work for the International Organization for Migration on the South Sudanese Out of Country vote on the Referendum to secede from Sudan creating the new nation of South Sudan. Follow @NebraskaIsHome and @WelcomeInOmaha on Twitter or on Facebook.
cyoakum@neappleseed.org
(402) 438-8853 Ext: 114

Christian Espinoza
Heartland Workers Center
Originally from Mexico City, Christian Espinoza moved to the U.S. in 2004. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University Technological of Mexico and is completing his Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to working with the HWC, he worked as a Research and Community Associate at the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at UNO and in the Family Protection Department of the Mexican Consulate in Omaha.
402-933-6096

Clay Naff
Executive Director, Lincoln Literacy
cnaff@lincolnliteracy.org
(402) 476-7323

Dayana Lopez
Youth Organizer, Heartland Workers Center
Originally from Hidalgo, Mexico, Dayana Lopez is a Senior at Central High School. She began working with the HWC in October 2013. Upon graduation, she plans on attending college to pursue a degree in graphic design or public relations. Apart from working with the HWC, Dayana helps out at her family’s restaurant, Maria Bonita.

dayana@heartlandworkerscenter.org
402-933-6097

Earlene Beatty
Administrator, Great Plains Black History Museum
ebeatty@gpblackmuseum.org
402.216.3852

Juliana Garza
Communications and Donor Relations Associate, Latino Center of the Midlands
info@latinocenterofthemidlands.org
402.733.2720

Linda Steele
Vice President, Omaha Chinese Cultural Association
Linda Steele joined Bellevue University in Jan 2003 as an Associate Professor in Computer Information Systems. Prior to working for Bellevue University, Linda was a senior Software Engineer and Task Manager for Northrop Grumman Corporation at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. Previous to that she had been an account manager for the China Import and Export Corporation in Fujian, China.
Steele is the co-founder of Omaha Chinese Culture Association (OCCA) in 2008, a non-profit organization that promotes cultural diversity, friendship, and enrichment in the local community through cultural and educational events. She works closely with international students from Asian countries, helping them settle into the United States.

omahachinese@gmail.com
402.515.4491

Max Graves
Executive Director, Center for Legal Immigration Assistance
info@clianeb.org
(402) 471-1777

Mei Keith
President, Omaha Chinese Cultural Association
Mei Keith is the President of OCCA and is responsible for event planning, executing daily operations, aligning with board members, direction of policies & goals and all outreach/community relations with Omaha, Nebraska. Keith is Art Director for OCCA responsible for the event performance planning (themes, music, artistic programs, and perfromance production). Keith is also currently an instructor at the Confucius Institute at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
omahachinese@gmail.com
402.321.0563

Roger Garcia
Executive Director, El Centro de las Americas
Roger Garcia is the Executive Director of El Centro de las Americas, overseeing all staff and programs that serve Latino families in the Lincoln area and nearby communities. Our services include tutoring for students, English classes for adults, computer classes, GED classes, domestic violence support groups, and connecting our clients to other resources and agencies in the community.
director@elcentrone.org
402.840.0597

Sergio Sosa
Executive DirectorHeartland Workers Center
Sergio Sosa has been the Executive Director of the Heartland Workers Center since 2009. He studied Philosophy and Theology from the University Rafael Landivar and The National Seminary of the Assumption in Guatemala. Throughout his 30-year career as an organizer and Executive Director, Sosa has received various recognitions including, the Hispanic/Latino of the Month Award from the Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department, the Barrientos Scholarship Foundation Award for Community Service, the Community Leader of the Year recognition from the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Defender of the Bill of Rights from the ACLU of Nebraska and the Good Apple Award from Nebraska Appleseed. Sosa is from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. He is married with two teenage children. In his free time, he enjoys reading, praying, and watching sports and news.
sergio@heartlandworkerscenter.org
402-933-6095

Sheila Dorsey Vinton
Executive Director, Asian Community and Cultural Center
Sheila Dorsey Vinton, is Executive Director of the Asian Community and Cultural Center. She promotes cultural awareness of Asian heritage, interests of Asian Americans and support services for all immigrant communities within Lincoln, Nebraska. Her background in refugee/immigrant anthropology serves her in focusing on community health issues, women’s empowerment, youth programs and planning cultural events. Vinton has a PhD from the University of Kentucky and a Masters degree from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
sheila@lincolnasiancenter.org
402-477-3446

Shirley Sneve
Executive Director, NetNebraska (PBS/NPR); Vision Maker Media (Native American Stories)
Shirley Sneve is the Executive Director of Vision Maker Media, whose mission is to share Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives through Public Television. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, she has been in Nebraska for ten years. She has served as director of Arts Extension Service in Amherst, MA, and the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science’s Visual Arts Center in Sioux Falls, SD. Sneve was Assistant Director for the South Dakota Arts Council, and she was a founder of Northern Plains Tribal Arts Show, the Oyate Trail cultural tourism byway, and the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates. She started her career as a producer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
ssneve@netad.unl.edu
402-472-3522

Terri Sanders
VP Marketing Director, Great Plains Black History Museum
terrisanders@gpblackmuseum.org
402.216.3852

Tara L.Muir, JF
Executive Director, Domestic Violence Council
tara@dvcomaha.org
402-210-2195

Chrys Whitmarsh
Nebraska AIDS Project
chrysw@nap.org

J.J. Replogle
Executive Director, Nebraska AIDS Project
jjr@nap.org
402-552-9260 Ext. 116

Michael Cich-Jones
Director of Development and Marketing, Urban League of Nebraska
As Director of Development and Marketing, Michael Cich-Jones provides leadership for donor development and communications at the Urban League of Nebraska (ULN). His efforts create awareness of ULN essential programs and services and generate support from the Omaha community. He has organized advocacy, donor, and media campaigns for nonprofits in Oklahoma and Nebraska. He has extensive experience with grant writing and organizing events from small grassroots workshops to large formal galas.
Cich-Jones is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he studied advertising and marketing and worked in student affairs, focusing on diversity and inclusion. He continues to be involved in social justice issues, focusing on equality, economic empowerment, reproductive justice and youth empowerment. He serves on the Friends Board for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and as co-chair of the Omaha Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Cich-Jones is a member of First Central Congregational United Church of Christ, where his husband, Scott, serves as senior pastor.

michael.cich-jones@urbanleagueneb.org
(402) 453-9730 x117

Nate Prouty
Nebraska Healthcare Access Network
nprouty@pubaffairsco.com

Beatty Brasch
Executive Director, Center for People In Need
Beatty Brasch has been a community advocate for low-income individuals for over 40 years. During this time she has sat on multiple non-profit boards, run two major non-profits and served as Lancaster County Election Commissioner. Brasch started the Center for People in Need in 2003 after retiring as Executive Director of the Lincoln Action program, which grew from 13 to 120 staffers under her leadership. The Center for People in Need serves over 21,000 clients annually, and is focused on providing comprehensive services and opportunities to support low-income, high needs families and individuals as they strive to lift themselves out of poverty and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
bbrasch@centerforpeopleinneed.org
(402) 476-4357 ex. 103

Candace Gregory
Executive Director, Open Door Mission
Candace Gregory is President/CEO of Open Door Mission in Omaha, Nebraska. Since joining the Mission as a case manager in 1995, Ms. Gregory has also served as Director of Family Ministries, Director of Lydia House and Family Ministries, and Chief Operating Officer.
Born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada, Ms. Gregory is a graduate of Lower Coverdale Christian Academy, Bethany Bible College, New Brunswick Community College, and Grace University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. In 2004, Candace received an honorary doctorate from Clarkson College of Sciences in Humanitarian Services Prior to her entry in the social service and family ministry profession, Candace was a successful businesswoman who launched and managed family owned pizza restaurants in Canada.

CGregory@OpenDoorMission.org
402-422-1111

Christian Espinoza
Heartland Workers Center
Originally from Mexico City, Christian Espinoza moved to the U.S. in 2004. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from University Technological of Mexico and is completing his Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Northern Iowa. Prior to working with the HWC, he worked as a Research and Community Associate at the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at UNO and in the Family Protection Department of the Mexican Consulate in Omaha.
402-933-6096

Dayana Lopez
Youth Organizer, Heartland Workers Center
Originally from Hidalgo, Mexico, Dayana Lopez is a Senior at Central High School. She began working with the HWC in October 2013. Upon graduation, she plans on attending college to pursue a degree in graphic design or public relations. Apart from working with the HWC, Lopez helps out at her family’s restaurant, Maria Bonita.

dayana@heartlandworkerscenter.org
402-933-6097

Gloria Sarmiento
Community Organizer – Immigrants & Communities Program, Nebraska Appleseed
Originally from Honduras, Gloria Sarmiento received a B.S. in Public Administration at the UNAH University in Honduras, CA. Now Sarmiento is working at Nebraska Appleseed with immigrant leaders from across Nebraska to encourage leadership, teaching people their rights and responsibilities and how to participate in our democracy. For almost 9 years, Sarmiento has been a volunteer at El Centro de Las Americas teaching GED classes in Spanish and helping teach the Latino community about the opportunities that exists in Nebraska. She has also been a volunteer with Lincoln Community Action for 8 years during the Tax Season. Before she became a community educator/organizer with Appleseed, Sarmiento worked with agricultural communities, women in micro-businesses and youth in Honduras for 20 years. She also worked for a few months with small businesses in Haifa, Israel.
gsarmiento@neappleseed.org
402-438-8853 x111

Jeff Sheldon
Community Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Jeff Sheldon has been the Communications Director for Nebraska Appleseed since May 2012. Prior to working at Appleseed, he accrued more than a decade of experience in media, journalism, and public health advocacy.
jsheldon@neappleseed.org
402-473-5599

Michael Cich-Jones
Director of Development and Marketing, Urban League of Nebraska
As Director of Development and Marketing, Michael Cich-Jones provides leadership for donor development and communications at the Urban League of Nebraska (ULN). His efforts create awareness of ULN essential programs and services and generate support from the Omaha community. He has organized advocacy, donor, and media campaigns for nonprofits in Oklahoma and Nebraska. He has extensive experience with grant writing and organizing events from small grassroots workshops to large formal galas.
Cich-Jones is a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he studied advertising and marketing and worked in student affairs, focusing on diversity and inclusion. He continues to be involved in social justice issues, focusing on equality, economic empowerment, reproductive justice and youth empowerment. He serves on the Friends Board for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and as co-chair of the Omaha Chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. Cich-Jones is a member of First Central Congregational United Church of Christ, where his husband, Scott, serves as senior pastor.

michael.cich-jones@urbanleagueneb.org
(402) 453-9730 x117

Rebecca L. Gould, JD
Executive Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Rebecca L. Gould, J.D., is the Executive Director at Nebraska Appleseed. She received her B.A. in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her J.D. from the University of Nebraska
College of Law. She has worked at Nebraska Appleseed since October of 2001 first as a Staff
Attorney and then starting in 2007 as Executive Director. She has over 10 years experience
engaging in civil litigation, policy advocacy and media campaigns on social justice issues in
Nebraska. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the Center for Rural Affairs and ISoft
Data Systems Inc.
bgould@neappleseed.org
402-438-0263 Ext. 102

Sergio Sosa
Executive DirectorHeartland Workers Center
Sergio Sosa has been the Executive Director of the Heartland Workers Center since 2009. He studied Philosophy and Theology from the University Rafael Landivar and The National Seminary of the Assumption in Guatemala. Throughout his 30-year career as an organizer and Executive Director, Sosa has received various recognitions including, the Hispanic/Latino of the Month Award from the Omaha Human Rights and Relations Department, the Barrientos Scholarship Foundation Award for Community Service, the Community Leader of the Year recognition from the Nebraska Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Defender of the Bill of Rights from the ACLU of Nebraska and the Good Apple Award from Nebraska Appleseed. Sosa is from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. He is married with two teenage children. In his free time, he enjoys reading, praying, and watching sports and news.
sergio@heartlandworkerscenter.org
402-933-6095

Vanessa Topete
President, Unity in Action
vane.topete@live.com
712-389-0287

Chris Elsenbalt
Queer Nebraska Youth Network
celsenbast@gmail.com
(402) 819-4825

Drew Heckman
Field Organizer, Human Rights Campaign NebraskaInclusive Communities
Drew Heckman is an Omaha native, a 2009 graduate of Brownell-Talbot High School. He went on to study Sociology and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Brown University in Rhode Island, graduating in 2013. After graduation, he moved home to lead the Queer Nebraska Youth Network, a project for LGBTQ youth that he started in 2010 while still a college student. In January 2014, Drew began consulting for the Human Rights Campaign, and in October 2014, he became HRC’s first-ever Field Organizer for Nebraska. He currently leads HRC’s efforts in the state.
dheckman@inclusive-communities.org
hubert.tate@hrc.org (Press Secretary Hubert Tate)
402-739-9058

Gary Kiel
Citizens for EQ Protection

garykiel@cox.net

Michael Gordon
Citizens for EQ Protection
jmg@cox.net

Neil Orians
Artist, We Are Here
Neil Daigle-Orians makes arts and goofy YouTube videos. He is currently working and living in Willington, Connecticut. Orians likes to do various things, but he identify primarily as a printmaker and decent human being.
Neil.H.Orians@gmail.com

Pat Tetreault
Director, UNL LGBTQA Resource Center
Pat Tetreault is a social justice and human rights educator and advocate. She is working collaboratively to help create more socially just communities through education, outreach, and advocacy through diverse means. Tetreault helps create change through assessment, policy & practice, presentations, workshops, research, leadership development, theater and theatre in education, peer education, and program coordination.
ptetreault1@unl.edu
402-472-1652

Ryan Sallars
LBGTQ Trainer & Consultant, Ryan Sallars – Sole Proprietor
Ryan Sallans is a public speaker, diversity trainer, consultant, publisher and author specializing in health care, campus inclusion and workplace issues surrounding the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) community.
Over the past fourteen years Sallars has conducted over a thousand presentations and trainings to diverse audiences including professionals, students and the general public. After his appearance in the documentary Gender Rebel featured on MTV’s LOGO network, Sallars began traveling to universities where he shares the story of his transition from female to male. His story is told with an intermixing of humor and intricate clinical details surrounding the transition process. Sallars has also been interviewed twice on Larry King Live, Ricki: The New Ricki Lake Show, NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook, and HuffPost Live. In 2012 Sallars released the first edition of his memoir, Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life. In 2013, he founded Scout Publishing LLC and released the second edition of his memoir, Second Son. He is also publisher and editor‐in‐chief of the quarterly literary journal, The Outrider Review, which explores themes surrounding sexuality, gender and identity and features artists and writers worldwide. Sallars attended the University of Nebraska‐Lincoln where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Anthropology, Master of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology.
rsallars@gmail.com; ryan@ryansallans.com
402-217-1017

Shelley Kiel
Citizens for EQ Protection
shelleykiel@cox.net

Abby Beatty
Counselor, Scott Middle School
Abby 
Beatty is a counselor at Scott Middle School in Lincoln. She focuses on bullying and helps strategize the system Lincoln Public School uses to help students.
abeatty2@lps.org
402.436.1218

Gary Kebbel
Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Professor Gary Kebbel served as dean at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from July 2010 to June 2012. He left his position as Dean to create a Center for Mobile Media at UNL.
Before coming to UNL he was the Journalism Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami, Fla. At Knight Foundation, he helped create the Knight Citizen News Network and the Knight Digital Media Center.
From 1999-2005 he directed the growth of AOL News into one of the largest news sites on the Internet. He is a founding editor of USA TODAY.com and Newsweek.com.

gkebbel2@unl.edu
402-472-3075

Jason Lucht
Graduate Student, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Jason Lucht is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women’s and Gender studies. He is a social activist, educating on bullying and suicide prevention pertaining to LGBTQ, gender, and cultural issues.
lucht_jason@yahoo.com

Luis Peon-Casanova
Assistant Professor of Practice, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Luis Peón-Casanova graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Filmmaking. While in Texas, he spent five years producing broadcast documentaries for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He earned a Master of Arts degree in Education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Peón-Casanova served as an Executive Producer for the Interactive Media Group at Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) for five years and as a Television Producer/Director for 10 years prior to his current position with UNL. His former responsibilities included the management of annual state and federal budgets and the development of new projects. Each year, he independently produced several television projects both for NET and for assorted partners throughout the country. He received numerous national and international awards for his productions including “Best in Education” from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) in 1995.

lpeon-casanova1@unl.edu
402.472.3055

Mary Kay Roth
Communications Director, Lincoln Public Schools
mkroth@lps.org
402.436.1609

Michelle Hassler
Admissions Coordinator Lecturer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Michelle Hassler, a lecturer and admissions coordinator, has been teaching at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 1998. Before coming to UNL, she was a newspaper reporter and editor for 16 years, beginning as education reporter at the Tempe Daily News and Mesa Tribune. She also served as state editor at the Lincoln Journal and night city editor and interim editorial page editor at the Lincoln Journal Star. Hassler has received several national teaching honors. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s in English, both from UNL.
mhassler3@unl.edu
402.472.7050

Susan Bullard
Associate Professor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Sue Burzynski Bullard teaches editing, reporting, ethics and multimedia classes as an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before joining academia in 2007, Bullard held a variety of editing positions at The Detroit News, including three years as managing editor. Bullard holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University and Master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University.
sbullard2@unl.edu
(402) 472-7110

Tim Anderson
Associate Professor of Practice, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Associate Professor Tim Anderson worked for more than 30 years in newspapers in Nebraska, Missouri, Florida and New York. He has worked for the Lincoln Journal and the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska, the Kansas City (Mo.) Times, the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press and the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle. He later spent nine years at New York Newsday, eventually becoming Executive News Editor, and another nine years at The New York Times, where he served as the News Design Editor.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974 and a Master’s degree in History from UNL in 2007.

tanderson5@unl.edu
402.472.3034

Zach Myers
School Psychology Doctoral StudentUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln
Zach Meyers is a third-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests include the relationship between victims and perpetrators of cyberbullying and their mental health outcomes.
myers.zach@huskers.unl.edu