2021-2022 Cohort

Guiding the Next Generation of Leaders

Mentors

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 Mayors Commission on Women and Gender, and serves on the advisory board of the Lincoln/Lancaster Womens Foundation.

Kandace Freeman

I’m passionate about using my positive attitude and tireless energy to affirm, educate, and develop others. I can’t wait to witness and embrace the magic thriving in this space amidst phenomenal humans.

Dan Harr

Driven by purpose and passion!

As a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion professional, he is embracing his passion and cultivating an impact Mutual of Omaha. By aiding the overall DEI strategy, analytics, and marketing, while governing all nine or their Employee Resource Group (ERGs) operations and activities.

When he is working, you’ll find Dan active within the community, his fitness journey, or spending quality time with his loved ones.

Heather Holmes

Passionate about impacting individuals Heather is an intrapreneur, community activist, and sought-after mentor who is encouraged daily by the strong women and feminists in her life. She believes in the transformative power of women in leadership. Heather is the Executive Director at Owlish, a non-profit that advocates for older LGBTQ+ adults through education, policy, and resource development. You can often find her dreaming of her next ritual bath and vibing with the moon’s cycles. Heather is deeply grateful for her partnership with her wife Michelle. Together they are exploring the world with their two sons. Being a mom is and will be the greatest joy and biggest life lesson for her.

Jo Bair Springer

Jo Bair Springer (she/her/hers) is a fifth-generation Nebraskan who is passionate about forming critical connections for social change in rural communities. Jo has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and directs non-profit providing intervention services related to domestic and sexual violence.

Lisa Utterback

Lisa Utterback is a passionate, dedicated, and resilient educational leader who has proudly served in the Omaha Public Schools for the past 22 years. She is a positive and proactive advocate who works closely with district and school leaders, students, families, and community members to improve student outcomes.

Sara Rips

Sara Rips is a civil rights attorney with the ACLU of Nebraska. She is the only attorney in Nebraska dedicated to full-time LGBTQIA+ civil rights law.

Scout Black

Scout Black (they/them) is a community-based researcher, advocating for youth-driven solutions to youth-defined priorities in the Omaha area. They are Moppa to one human son, two cats, and about 40 houseplants. When not directly working to make Omaha a more accessible and inclusive community, Scout enjoys hiking and reading with their son, practicing photography, and spending entirely too much time on TikTok.

Abra Poindexter

Abra Poindexter, LICSW, LIMHP is a psychotherapist, consultant, and collaborator specializing in trauma issues, LGBTQIA+ issues, and general mental health. Abra has a passion for the intersections of mental health and social justice from an anti-racism and anti-oppression lens. Abra celebrates her loving marriage to her wife Lara daily, enjoying their three pups, friends, and family. Abra recharges and grows through creativity and engages hers through art, writing, being in nature, learning, swimming, community, and travel. Abra is excited to be in the community with the 2021 Huespring cohort!

Candace Bloomquist

Candace Bloomquist, PhD, believes in thinking differently, challenging the status quo, and reaching for opportunities. She is an assistant professor at Creighton University. Her ongoing research interests include quality improvement, interdisciplinary leadership, and teaching and learning in higher education.

Scholars

Teddy Blaylock

Teddy is a nonbinary queer individual who uses they/them pronouns. They currently attend UNO as a public health student. Teddy plans to pursue an ABSN degree after graduation to become a public health nurse. Their special interests within their field are queer and sexual health.

Kenna Barnes

Kenna has worked in sexual and reproductive justice over the last 4 years and is currently working on expanding reproductive justice programming at Black and Pink. They have a passion for guiding and uplifting young folks to help strengthen the future of LGBTQ+ advocacy.

Kassian Lemke-Elznic

Kassian is a graduate student finishing up his Library Information Science degree. They have worked in area libraries for two years and recently started interning at the Queer Omaha Archive.

Eric Reiter

Eric is a community leader, organizer, nonprofit professional, politico, and aspiring change-maker based in Lincoln, Nebraska. They believe in a people-first and solutions-oriented approach to building coalitions that create sustainable changes in our communities and move people closest to the pain closer to the power.

Caenis Bryan

Caenis is an air force veteran who has a vested interest in helping homeless queer folks and she is doing her part to help the community. She is going for a bachelors in biomechanics to develop a knee brace that will help her beat her fastest 5k time of 21:30 minutes. 

Taylor Bickel

Taylor grew up in the Kansas City area and moved to Omaha in 2014 and immediately fell in love with the city. She worked as a Legislative Aide in the Nebraska Legislature for three sessions before leaving to pursue her Masters in Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Torie Walenz

Torie is an Assistant Family Teacher at Boystown and they’re passionate about working with youth from various backgrounds. When not busy teaching behavioral skills to Boystown teenagers they enjoy hiking, playing with large dogs, rewatching Twilight, and pining over Harry Styles.

Ang Bennett

Ang is a mixed media artist, curator, and queer activist. Currently obtaining their Bachelor of Arts in Art History at UNO, Ang aims to focus on the critical and social approach to art as it relates to Blackness and Queerness. They are a member of the Nasty Artist Collective – a community of artists seeking to use the arts to bring about social change.

Braeden Krall

Braeden Krall is a queer, non-binary person, originally from Lake Tapps, Washington. As a recent graduate from UNO with a Bachelors in Sociology, they’re currently exploring graduate programs for public policy. They’re a parent to two aggressively affectionate cats and are a sitcom super fan.

Isabel Salas

Isabel is a leader, community organizer, and activist. Using her skills to connect people and amplify often-ignored voices, she has spent 4 years connecting neighbors in the South of Downtown area in Lincoln to take action on local issues and become civically engaged.

Justin Parsley

Justin is a Nurse Educator for the Cardiac Care Unit at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center. He is also the Co-Founder and current Co-Lead of Children’s PRIDE, the Employee Resource Group for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies

Jenna Lopez

Jenna is a mental health professional in the Omaha area. She loves eating good food while having fun with her chosen family.