IPL provides leadership training and support to refugees from Asia and Africa, immigrants from Latin America, and leaders of congregations and community organizations affiliated with OTOC so they can be effective agents of positive change in their communities.  IPL is providing leadership training to these leaders who are working on the following initiatives:


  • Refugee Rental Rights and Responsibilities Training — providing training to refugees about their responsibilities and rights as renting tenants to prevent and identify unfair landlord practices. To learn more, contact Greta Carlson at

Past Initiatives we helped start:

  • Refugee Women Leadership Academy — continue providing leadership training to diverse refugee women so they understand how to better solve issues affecting women and their children. To learn more, contact Christine Arach Ross at
  • New American Civic Academy — continue working with Lutheran Family Services, UNO Political Science Department and others to organize training sessions so that refugees and new immigrants understand how different levels of government operate in Omaha and Nebraska and how to organize to have an effective voice with elected officials. To learn more, contact Joe Higgs at
  • Refugee Culture Night and events — continue helping refugee leaders of diverse ethnic backgrounds organize cultural events to share their culture with long time Nebraskans and learn how to work together across language and ethnicity on a shared project. To learn more, contact Christine Ross at
  • Refugee Health Collaborative—continue working with UNMC College of Public Health and others to provide education to refugee communities about how to maintain their health and to medical providers about how to better provide care to refugees in Omaha. To learn more, contact Joe Higgs at



  • OTOC Immigration Action Team—will continue educating about and advocating for  comprehensive immigration reform and fair treatment of  immigrants living in Nebraska by state and local officials. In recent years, OTOC leaders have educated officials and the general public about the need for:
    • Prenatal Care for all Nebraska Women
    • Allowing immigrants to prove their identity using a Matricula Consular
    • Fair Treatment of Central American youth fleeing to our border
    • DACA qualified young adults to qualify for a Nebraska Driver’s License
    • Temporary Protected Status

To learn more, contact Jeanne Schuler at

  • Legal support and education for new immigrants—will continue to work with non-profit and pro bono immigration attorneys to provide accurate legal information to immigrants about changing immigration laws and enforcement policies so that immigrants know their rights and responsibilities under the current laws.

OTOC Action Teams

Improving Mental Healthcare

  • Refugee Mental Health Collaborative — will work to increase collaboration of existing mental health resources in order to improve access to mental healthcare and support groups for refugees who speak little English. For more information contact Joe Higgs at
  • OTOC Mental Health Action team — will organize to educate the public and elected officials about the need to improve the mental health care and continuity of care that is afforded to persons suffering from mental illness and their families and to persons incarcerated in Nebraska prisons and jails. For more information, contact Sarita Penka at

Increasing Environmental Sustainability

  • OTOC Environmental Sustainability Action Team — will (1) ensure that OPPD fully implements their June, 2014 decision to stop burning coal at North Omaha plant, increase sustainable energy sources to 1/3 of total by 2018; and expand energy efficiency programs and demand reduction programs to reduce the peak demand for energy; and (2) teach members of local congregations and community organizations about how all of us can be better stewards of Creation and what all can do to mitigate the impact of that climate change will have on our community and state. For more information, contact Mary Ruth Stegman at

Access to Affordable Health care:

  • OTOC Medicaid Reform Action Team — will teach about the need for and the benefit of reforming and expanding access to Medicaid so that hard working Nebraskans who fall in the current coverage gap  are able to obtain some form of affordable health care for themselves and their families. For more information, contact Mark Hoeger at

Housing Revitalization:

  • OTOC Housing Action Team — will work to (1) maintain an increased level of nearly $ 1 million in City of Omaha funding for demolition of condemned buildings; (2) support community engagement that will ensure a successful implementation of the Omaha Land Bank; (3) continue to support effective housing code enforcement to prevent the further deterioration of older housing. For more information, contact Gloria Austerberry at

Reducing Predatory Lending:

  • OTOC Predatory Lending Action Team — will work to increase public awareness about predatory lending practice and work with legislators to create fair access to affordable credit in Nebraska. For more information, contact Vicki Pratt at