IPL unwraps Holiday Campaign

The need is greater than ever for leaders who can work in their communities to spark conversations on difficult issues and to work to reach real solutions to problems.

You can do something to help fill that need — donate to the Institute for Public Leadership during its Holiday Campaign and your tax-deductible contribution will immediately get put to work. The IPL Board has set an ambitious yet reachable goal of $20,000 for the Holiday Campaign.Your donation, large or small, can help reach that goal by Dec. 10.

With your support, IPL  can continue to empower diverse and emerging communities by developing leaders with skills training, research and organizing support. IPL, with its affiliate organization Omaha Together One Community, then helps those leaders act for justice and the common good.

With your support, IPL can continue efforts such as

  • Training refugees to be leaders in their communities on the rights and responsibilities of being tenants
  • Working with Omaha and neighborhood leaders on projects such as the Land Bank to make our city a better place to live
  • Organizing forums where citizens can get information on issues
  • Bringing together diverse communities with events like the Interfaith Solidarity Service and Refugee Culture Night

Donating is easy. You can click on the button below that will take you to the secure online donation site or you can mail a check to Institute for Public Leadership, 3624 Lafayette Ave., Omaha, NE, 68131-1363.



Nonprofit Advocacy Training

On Wednesday, July 27th eight IPL and OTOC affiliated leaders attended a training workshop on nonprofit advocacy and lobbying. The full day training workshop was organized by the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands and was hosted on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Included in the workshop were three informative and interactive sessions:

Nonprofit Lobbying 101: This session emphasized the importance of lobbying in order to advance missions and achieve policy goals as a nonprofit organization. The session was extremely educational and outlined the parameters in which nonprofits may operate when engaging in non-partisan lobbying.

Nonprofit Lobbying 201: The second session provided insight into how the Unicameral operates, including processes like bill introductions, committee hearings, priority bills, and floor debates. It later described how the state budget operates and impacts our missions and concluded with ideas about how to confront the issues posed by monetary policy.

Nonpartisan Voter Engagement for Nonprofits: The final session highlighted the role nonprofits can play in boosting civic participation and voter turnout among people who care about and are affected by various issues and ideals. Attendees were given information and ideas for how to effectively provide resources to make voting as easy as possible for the greater community.

IPL and OTOC participants found the workshop extremely beneficial and they look forward to sharing what they learned with you!

Join us for August 4 Interfaith Solidarity Service

IPL has teamed up with OTOC and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance to organize an Interfaith Solidarity Service on Thursday, August 4th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran Church (3647 Lafayette Ave).

To let us know you are coming, click on this link.

Solidarity Service Image

This will be an evening that will include song, reflection and prayer from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities in Omaha. Leaders from diverse congregations will gather together to reflect on our common humanity, appreciate our different faith traditions and customs and re-commit to working together toward creating a peace-filled community for all families.

The Interfaith Solidarity Service will be led by Rabbi Steven Abraham of Beth El Synagogue, Rev. Jan Peterson of Augustana Lutheran Church, Rev. Tony Sanders of Koinonia House of Worship and IMA, Rev. Marshall Johnson of St. Luke United Methodist, and other clergy and lay leaders.

Following the service, there will be refreshments and an opportunity to create new friendships in the Church Hall. Please let us know you will be attending by clicking this link.

Event Details:

Date: Thursday, August 4

Time: 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Augustana Lutheran Church

3647 Lafayette Ave.

IPL working with OTOC to organize Summer Training Academy: “Leadership in an Election Year”

OTOC and Institute for Public Leadership will hold 3 workshops this summer to help Omaha leaders prepare for “Leadership in an Election Year.” All sessions will be from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave).

Monday June 13–Listening and Telling our Story: Creating a Narrative for the change we want in our communties

Monday July 11–Sharing our narratives and agenda for change with voters; how to organize successful non-partisan voter education campaigns

Monday August 8–holding a large accountability session with candidates for office; how to make our agenda the candidate and successfully win their commitment to support it

IPL helping organize May 21 Workshop for Refugees on Women’s Health and May 24 Meeting on NE Property values

IPL is working with leaders of the Refugee Health Collaborative to organize a workshop on Saturday, May 21 from 10:30 to Noon at Augustana Lutheran for refugee leaders entitled “Women’s Health: What everyone needs to know!”  Refugee women will meet with Libby Crockett, MD of the UNMC College of Public Health while the men will meet with Dr. Armando de Alba.

JordahBoth physicians will be assisted by refugee leaders  who will interpret their teaching into several common refugee languages including Karen, Burmese, Nepali, Arabic and Somali interpreters who will assure that participants are able to understand. These are interactive workshops designed to help refugees learn how to access health care appropriately, understand the complex US health care system and how to keep their families healthy.  To download a flyer, click on the link below:

Womens Health flyer May 2016 – 2(2)

Community Meeting about Property Valuation in Northeast Omaha

IPL is also working with OTOC leaders to help organize a community meeting on Tuesday, May 24 at Clair Memorial United Methodist to discuss why tax valuations in the Northeast area of Omaha have been reduced so drastically, first by the Douglas County Assessor’s Office and again the Nebraska Tax Equalization Commission. Residents will learn what they need to do if they want to protest a valuation they consider to be too low or too high. They will also hear from Attorney Gary Fischer of Family Housing Associates about how families can build and protect the equity in their home, and how to avoid losing value.

IPL will also lead the group in discussing how congregations and community groups can work together to increase the demand for affordable housing in Northeast Omaha, thus increasing the value of that housing.

For a flyer about this meeting, click on the link below:


IPL to host May 25 After Work Gathering to Celebrate OmahaGives and Thanks our Donors

Join us Wednesday May 25 from 5 to 7 pm for 

IPL’s After Work Gathering

to celebrate OmahaGives24 

              and IPL’s work  to develop leaders among immigrant and refugee communities , school parents and OTOC Action Teams  

which you made possible this year   

Join us at the lovely home of Jaymes and Christine Salestrom

6744 Burt Street, Omaha, NE 68132

RSVP at iplomaha@gmail.com


Drop in for Conversation, Appetizers and Spirits

(Colleagues, Spouses & Friends Welcome)

IPL’s OmahaGive’s Contribution Strategies

  • Want to increase your impact by 50%? The IPL Board will add 50% more to your tax deductible contribution…so your contribution of $100 will mean $150 to IPL for leadership development.
  • Time means money! Give on line to IPL after 4:00 p.m. CST on May 25th so we can compete for a Participation Award of up to $3,000 during the last 8 hours… that means after 4:00 pm (but before Midnight) on May 25th.
  •  Split your total contribution between spouses and/or family IPL is more likely to win a Participation Award if you split your total family contribution between the members of your household, each giving on line.

To make a contribution, click on the link below:

Secure Link to IPL contribution page on OmahaGives site


150 Community leaders attend Feb 27 Issues Conference

raised hands close up
150 Community Leaders listened and learned at Issues Conference

IPL helped OTOC leaders organize an Issue Conference on February 27 at First United Methodist that was attended by 150 people from 41 congregations and community organizations. IPL helped OTOC leaders prepare eight different workshops. Twenty five to 40 people attended each of the leader lead workshops.

All of the workshops invited those present to take “next steps” to improve our community. Five of the workshops were organized by leaders of existing OTOC Action Teams and these leaders distributed information to participants about what they have learned about the issues they are working on together.  The Five existing OTOC Actions Teams are:

  • Housing and Community Revitalization
  • Health Care for the Working Poor
  • Support for Immigrants and Refugees
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Improving Behavioral Health Care in Omaha and the State
  • Portia Cavitt leading housing
    Leaders discussed how to improve housing in older areas

    For a copy of some of those handouts, click on the link below:

OTOC Workshop Resources


Three other workshops addressed new problems which OTOC leaders may choose to work on in the future:

  • Violence in the Community
  • Retaining the Repeal of the Death Penalty
  • Organizing to educate customers about OPPD and how the decisions made by the OPPD Board will impact our climate and our smart energy future.
Group shot
Leaders learned about how work for Clean Power in Nebraska
Marylynn Felion Death Penalty
Leaders learned about how to work to keep repeal of the Death Penalty in the upcoming referendum
Mary Spurgeron
Leaders continue to organize for health insurance for working poor
Close up group
OTOC leaders want to educate customers about the important decision that the OPPD Board will make in the future
Jeanne Schuler Wide shot
Leaders discussed how to advocate for fair treatment of immigrants and refugees who come to Omaha

IPL helps Thrive Club at Northwest HS learn about mental health

This Fall and Winter, IPL worked with students involved in the Northwest HS Thrive Club on a service project to help educate refugee and immigrant communities about mental illness and how to find behavioral health care when you need it.small group of kids with signsThe students wrote and filmed their own informational video to help other teens learn more about mental illness. Take a look at their work at the link below:

NW High Thrive Students Video about behavioral health

IPL worked with leaders of the local chapter of National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Refugee Empowerment Center (REC) and Lutheran Family Services (LFS) to work with the 55 members of the Northwest HS Thrive Club on their 2015-16 service project. Thrive Clubs are at 5 OPS high schools and provide refugee and immigrant youth with weekly club activities where they learn leadership development skills. large group with signs

The officers at Northwest met during the Summer and decided they wanted to work with IPL and our collaborators to learn more mental illness. They met with IPL and our partners several times over the semester. The students are producing a video and some simple posters with positive mental health messages which they will post around the school.  More importantly, this group of young leaders will begin to know how they can help other members of their better understand that there is no stigma in seeking care for our minds when it is necessary.male with pic over face



Fifty refugee leaders attend workshop on Healthy Mind

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Fifty refugees from Karen, Kareni, Burmese, Nepali, Sudanese and Somali communities attended the workshop on a Healthy Mind which IPL helped organize with the Refugee Health Collaborative

IPL worked with the Refugee Health Collaborative to organize a workshop on Healthy Minds for leaders of Omaha’s refugee communities on Saturday, February 20 at Augustana Lutheran Church.

Claire Herzog  of Ready in Five and Alana Schriver of the OPS lead an informative and engaging workshop attended by fifty refugees from 6 different countries and groups.  The workshop focused on helping refugees understand what mental illness, how to maintain good mental health and how to get help for yourself or a loved one if you realize that help is needed

Six interpreters helped refugee leaders understand the basic ideas about how to maintain mental health

IPL has worked with the Refugee Health Collaborative over the last two years to develop educational programs to help refugees learn how to access preventive and primary health care in a timely manner and in an appropriate way. IPL and OTOC leaders have worked with a number of community organizations including UNMC College of Public Health, Refugee Empowerment Center, LFS, Douglas County Health Department and Embrace the Nations on this ongoing effort to improve health care for refugees in Omaha.


IPL and OTOC hold Summer training series attended by over 90 leaders

Karen McElroy and Joe Higgs at front of room
Karen McElroy and Gloria Austerberry of the OTOC Housing Team teach about Action by discussing their work to increase demolition funds

IPL worked with leaders of Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) to hold three summer training sessions about the principles and practices of community organizing. Over 90 people over 35 congregations and community organizations attended at least one of the sessions and average attendance was over 50 for the three sessions which occurred on the 2nd Monday of June, July and August. The final training session was led by IPL Director Joe Higgs and several OTOC leaders including Carol Beaty, Kevin Graham, Gloria Austerberry and Karen McElroy. The final session focused on:

Developing a Core Team of Leaders: How you identify and develop a team of leaders in your own church or organization so you can work with them for the common good.

Preparing for a listening campaign: How can we organize a series of small group meetings to listen carefully to the issues that affect the families in our congregation and community? OTOC plans to engage in a listening campaign this Fall and will hold a meeting in each member institution to review the work of OTOC Action Team and determine if there are new issues and new leaders who want to work for the common good. 

Session 2 Marshal Johnson at front of room
Rev. Marshall Johnson helped lead two of the three sessions on principles and practices of community organizing

OTOC is an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation and leaders who are active in OTOC member institutions are welcomed to go to regional and national training programs in community organizing.



The next IAF National training program scheduled is set for:

Monday, Nov. 16th at 3:30 p.m.

Until  Friday, Nov. 20th at 12:00 noon

Loretto Spirituality Center Littleton, Colorado

Cost is $700 for room and board for those staying at the Spirituality Center

 Seminars for Leaders involved in Organizing

IPL is  affiliated with the Interfaith Education Fund which organizes educational seminars with leading academics about topics that are relevant to leaders involved in community organizing. The next scheduled seminar is February 5 and 6 in Dallas, Texas with two leading theologians:

Charles Mathewes is Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia where he teaches religious ethics and religious thought. He is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition and A Theology of Public Life, The Republic of Grace, and Understanding Religious Ethics.

Luke Bretherton is a Professor of Theological Ethics and Senior Fellow, Kenan Institute for Ethics at the Duke Divinity School. He is the author of Hospitality as Holiness: Christian Witness Amid Moral Diversity. His recent work has focused on faith-based organizations, the church’s involvement in social welfare provision, community organizing, the treatment of refugees, and fair trade.

Contact the IPL office is you are interested in attending either of these great opportunities to learn.