About Huespring

Building a Network


When can I apply to be a scholar or mentor?2021-10-22T11:37:43-05:00

At this time, the application process for cohort two is now closed. If you would like to be notified of future opportunities, please complete our general interest survey.

What are the requirements to be a scholar?2019-10-15T15:17:57-05:00

The requirements to be a scholar are identifying within the LGBTQ+ community, being an early career professional (less than 3 years professional experience) or looking to move into a new professional field. Scholar must be able to meet with mentor, at minimum, one time per month. Applicant must attend all five speaker workshops (to be held in Omaha metro area).

What are the requirements to be a mentor?2019-10-15T15:21:33-05:00

Must identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Applicant should be at least a mid career professional (3-5 years of professional experience) and have demonstrated previous professional and personal leadership experience. Also must be able to meet with scholar at minimum, one time per month.

What is MSHRC?2019-10-15T15:31:42-05:00

The Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative (MSHRC) is a multidisciplinary group housed in the School of Health and Kinesiology at the University of Nebraska Omaha. MSHRC’s mission is to conduct innovative research, provide evidence-based education, mentor students and sexual health professionals, and engage the community in initiatives to support sexual health and well being.

Leadership Council Members

Andrew Aleman

Andrew Aleman

Andrew Aleman (He|Him|His) is a Clinical Social Worker and Independent Consultant from Omaha, NE. Andrew’s professional roles have always been based in dismantling systems of power and uplifting the voices of those who are silenced. For three years as a private practice therapist, Andrew worked with LGBTQ+ youth & young adults as they navigated barriers and life transitions. During his three years at Nebraska AIDS Project, he worked directly with individuals living with HIV/AIDS, assisting them in obtaining needed resources and building additional supports. After being promoted to Community Engagement Supervisor, he was essential in making HIV/AIDS testing and education more accessible to Omaha’s black community.

Currently, Mr. Aleman works as a consultant partnering with multiple organizations to address injustices impacting the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals, youth in the juvenile justice system, and violence against black women. Mr. Aleman also currently serves as the Co-Chair for the GLSEN Omaha Board of Directors, and as a member of the policy committee for ACLU Nebraska. Mr. Aleman was honored to be the 2018 Heartland Pride Brad Fuglei Impact Award recipient, and a 2019 Young, Black, and Influential Award recipient for Advocacy.

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.

Ashley Rae Turner

Coming Soon

Christina Markgraf

Coming Soon

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.

Darryl Brown Jr.

Darryl Brown Jr.

Coming soon.

Dominique Morgan

Morgan is an award-winning artist, activist, and speaker. As the Executive Director of Black and Pink, the largest prison abolitionist organization in the United States, Morgan works daily to dismantle the systems that perpetuate violence on LGBTQ/GNC people and individuals living with HIV and AIDS. Partnering her lived experience of incarceration as a youth (which included 18 months in solitary confinement), with a decade of change-making artistry, advocacy, and background in public health, she continues to work in spaces of sex education, radical self-care, and youth development with intentions of dismantling the prison industrial complex and its impacts on our community. Morgan is an NAACP Freedom Fighter Award recipient, Young, Black, and Influential Award recipient for Advocacy and Omaha Chamber Young Professionals Changemaker Award recipient. Dominique is a TedX Speaker, 2019 graduate of Leadership Omaha (Class 41) and National Juvenile Justice Network 2019-2020 Fellow. She’s currently completing her capstone project for her studies in the Georgetown University – System Involved LGBTQ Youth Scholar Program. Find out more about Dominique Morgan at www.dominiquemorgan.com

Espen Schofield-Smith

Espen Schofield-Smith is currently working as a Mental Health Coordinator through the Connections program at Project Harmony. Espen is passionate about helping other people through work as well as in personal life and is currently in the process of applying to go back to school to obtain a masters in social work.

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.

James Pennington

James Pennington is a trauma therapist who operates their own private practice, Dream Again Therapy, in Omaha, Nebraska. They are a member of several professional organizations, including the ASGPP, EMDRIA, ICEEFT, and APA Division 44. They have presented at a number of local and national conferences on LGBTQ+ issues, working with trauma survivors, and how cultural issues impact the therapeutic process. They also work as a consultant to help clinicians and agencies provide more affirming care to clients with transgender and non-binary identities.

Jo Bair

Jo Bair (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.

Jodi Benenson

Jodi Benenson

Jodi Benenson is an assistant professor in the School of Public Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her research focuses on the intersection between civic engagement, nonprofit organizations, social equity, and public policy. Previously, Jodi was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. Prior to pursuing an academic career, Jodi worked for a variety of nonprofit organizations in the Midwest. Jodi is actively involved with the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) and currently serves on the organization’s national Board of Directors. She also serves on the board of New Leaders Council Omaha. Jodi received a B.S. and M.P.A. from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in social policy from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Joe Shaw

Coming Soon!

John H. Jeanetta

John H. Jeanetta

John H. Jeanetta was appointed president and CEO of Heartland Family Service in 2009. Under his guidance, the 145-year-old agency, which serves 52,000 people a year through 56 programs offered from 20 locations in east central Nebraska and southwest Iowa, has more than doubled its operating budget and expanded critical services in three focus areas: counseling and prevention; housing and financial stability; and child and family wellbeing.

John holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Gallup University, a Master of Science in Social Work degree from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a master’s specialization certification in gerontology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

He currently sits on several boards including: the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation Board of Advisors, the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, PromiseShip and the Nebraska Family Support Network.

Kandace Freeman

Hey y’all; Kandace here! I use she/her pronouns, nice to meet you! I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska where I’ve spent the majority of my life until relocating to Atlanta in August 2022. I have four lively sisters, and a niece and nephew all residing in Nebraska. Growing up, I struggled seeing others who looked like me and/or held the same identities as I do in many spaces or positions of leadership. Representation matters y’all: showing up in spaces authentically me is essential for me to thrive personally and professionally. I hold a BA in History (Social Science emphasis) from Doane University and am currently pursuing my Masters’ degree in Leadership Management with an emphasis in Human Resources. The culmination of my expertise is concentrated in training and development, curriculum creation and implementation, coupled with several years in management capacity across several sectors. However, my true passion is advocating for social justice initiatives through education, dialogue, and development. When I’m not working, I love to be outdoors and all things social! Spending quality time with my family, friends, fiancé Shanice, and our fur babies Oliver and Hobbes are a few of my favorite things. 

Kati Kough

Coming Soon!

Kenna Barnes

Kenna has worked as a sexual health educator for both youth serving professionals and young folks for over 5 years. She believes that queer and trans people should have full lives that center joy and pleasure. Kenna works to abolish the prison system, dismantle anti-LQBTQ+ policies, advocate for reproductive justice, and organize their community to make that a reality.

Mars X

Coming Soon!

Nikki Catron

Coming Soon!

Philana Blakely

Philana Blakely is the Administrator of Religious and Volunteer Services for Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS), who partners with various community organizations and volunteers to bring a variety of non-clinical programming to all NDCS facilities. Philana is a positive, motivational and strategic leader regardless of the hat she is wearing at home or at work. Philana is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and is passionate about equality, women’s rights, diversity and inclusion.

Portia Burch

Coming Soon!

Sarah Walker

Sarah Walker was once called a “Development Diva” and honestly couldn’t agree more with this title. Sarah is a queer feminist in the non-profit and political world, just trying to work hard to be able to buy nice things for her cat and soon-to-be wife. She likes her pop culture and critical pedagogy like she likes her french fries and Wendy’s frosties: mixed.

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.

Tena Hahn-Rodriguez

Tena (she/her) brings a full range of career experience to Black and Pink National as a DEI professional and educator. Her background as an entrepreneur, educator, and community organizer has made her one of the most recognizable people in Omaha. As co-founder of REVEL, Omaha’s only LGBTQIA2S+ safe social space and community fundraiser, Tena has focused her efforts to organize, support, and celebrate Omaha’s LGBTQIA2S+ community since the event’s inception in 2014. Tena’s career experience as a dance and fitness instructor made her an entrepreneur at the age of 32, and an educator to three generations of youngsters and countless active adults. A lover of music, movies, social media, and an avid reader, Tena’s non-profit career ranges from Program Associate to Business Development Manager, and Director of Strategic Partnerships. She hopes to bring her passion for young people, North Omaha, and trans and queer youth of color to this role. She lives in North Omaha with her wife Nannette, and two energetic rescue pups, Chewie and Roxy. Her child Jos is thriving in Baltimore, Maryland as a makeup artist. Tena is a native of Omaha, and a GLSEN board member. She was the former Entertainment Director for Heartland Pride and is also an AFAA certified trainer and a licensed Zumba, MixxedFit, CTY, and indoor cycling instructor.

Tommy Dennis

Coming Soon!

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