Add Your Voice

This is a place to discuss your experiences, exchange stories, and get to know your fellow residents a little better. Simply add your response to any or all of the questions below.

About the Project FAQs

Nikola Halcyone
Director of Hugs | Positivity Associate | Listener, Advocate, Facilitator

she | her | hers Hi y’all, I’m Nikola Halcyone. I have deep gratitude for the Umonhon People who this city was named for and whose land I’ve lived on since birth. I’m a white, queer, cisgender woman with a chronic pain condition who uses a wheelchair. I’m a born, raised, + currently practicing Nichiren Buddhist who works full-time and is in graduate school. I love people. My entire life revolves around my love for people. I love their stories and I’m honored to be the keeper of stories from actors who are Vietnam veterans + song-writers who are formerly incarcerated; engineers turned elected officials + civil rights attorneys turned non-profit collaborators; Latinx social workers, trans baristas, Black PhDs, gay pastors, Lakota teachers, disabled superheroes, + Japanese grandmas; curious high school students, determined young professionals, + accomplished CEOs. I hold each story as sacred, taking action to make the next generation of stories more equitable. I have a huge crush on Rachel Maddow + U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. Jean-Luc Picard is the best Captain. Nothing else matters when there’s a baby around.

What would you say to a friend considering a move to our city?

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Todd Simon
Business and Community Leader

I am a 5th Generation Omahan and one of the owners of Omaha Steaks. It’s very fulfilling to work with such an incredible team at our company. I’m also proud to have been able to serve our community in various ways, including leadership positions at the Omaha Community Foundation, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Big Brothers Big Sisters and many others over the years. I am passionate about the arts and about making our community a better place to live and I’m learning more and more about how to do that every day. My wife and I are raising two fun and creative kids and hopefully our example will be inspiring for them. The four of us live in west Omaha with our two rag doll cats.

When people ask you about where you live, what do you tell them you are most proud of in your community?

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Sofia Jawed-Wessel
Assistant Professor | PhD | MPH

I’m an Assistant Professor at The University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Associate Director of the Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative. My research focuses on understanding and improving the sexual health of women and couples as they transition into parenthood by documenting sexual behaviors, sexual function, relationship adjustment, and overall sexual changes during pregnancy and after childbirth. My teachings utilize a sex-positive and pleasure inclusive approach to providing medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education to undergraduate students as well as in the local Omaha community. I also fight for women’s rights and reproductive justice and have successfully argued in favor of comprehensive sex education in Omaha Public Schools. My 2016 TEDxOmaha talk, “The lies we tell pregnant women,” was promoted by TED.com and has been viewed over 2.9 million times.

If you could make any lasting contribution to future generations here, what would it be?

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Ferial Pearson
Mama Beast

I was born in Kenya and came to the United States to become a teacher. I taught English at Omaha South High School for ten years, worked as a Talent Advisor for the Avenue Scholars Foundation at Ralston High School for two years, and now I teach at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in the College of Education. I have earned three national and several local awards for my work in education, human rights, and social justice, and I am the founder of The Secret Kindness Agents project, which is the subject of a published book and a TEDx Talk. The project is in hundreds of schools across the United States and in Canada and is the topic of my doctoral dissertation. I live in Ralston with my soul mate, Daniel, my son Ilahi, and my daughter Iman. We practice random acts of kindness and goofiness every single day.

What is your dream for your neighborhood?

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Lucia Pedroza
Senior Organizer, Heartland Workers Center

I was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I came to the United States at the age of 12 and grew up in Hastings, Nebraska. I am the Senior Organizer at the Heartland Workers Center (HWC), where I have been able to develop my leadership through civic engagement. One of the HWC’s main goals is finding, training, and developing community leaders who will be acting together to make change happen. I am also pursuing a Sociology degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Currently, I am a board member for the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table and I am part of the Women’s Fund of Omaha’s Policy Advising Committee. I am also a proud mother of two boys, Santiago and Andre. My children, family, and friends inspire my work every day. In my spare time, I enjoy exercising and spending time with my kids at home. I hope that one day, we will have many more people who will work to build communities that work for all people and for future generations.

What’s different for kids now compared to your childhood?

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Dominique Morgan
Adolescent Health Educator/Community Advocate

I am a 2017 Ten Outstanding Young Omahans’ nominee, 2017 Young Black and Influential Award winner, Greater Omaha Young Professionals' 2017 Change Maker Award winner and 2016 NAACP Freedom Fighter Award recipient. I am the Founder and Executive Director of Queer People of Color Nebraska, President of Friends and Families Incarcerated in Nebraska and an award-winning musician and artist. By day I am honored to work as an Adolescent Health Educator at Charles Drew Health Center.

What gift in life have you received that everyone should have in their life as well?

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