Strengthening Democracy: Janell Walther

Janell Walther is our 2021 Outstanding Civic Health Partner.

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Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards recognize Nebraskans whose work embodies the spirit of a modern, robust democracy. Among our 2021 honorees are educators, administrators, students, and everyday Nebraskans. We’ll officially honor the winners on April 29, but before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special. 

Civic Nebraska honors Janell Walther as our 2021 Outstanding Civic Health Partner for her excellence in and commitment to researching the realm of public and civic engagement and policy.

Walther, senior research manager with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, helped Civic Nebraska build a framework for the 2020 Nebraska Civic Health Index, a comprehensive look at the elements of our state’s civic life. The index examined Nebraskans’ social connectedness, community engagement, political involvement, and faith in institutions.

In 2021, Walther also contributed to What Our Neighbors Said, an in-depth report from Collective Impact Lincoln that delves into data from deep canvassing focusing on issues and solutions in the city’s core neighborhoods.

Walther’s expertise in making the intangible tangible – that is, in helping organizations and policymakers communicate complex ideas to the public and with one another – is essential to chart the state’s civic health future, said Civic Nebraska’s Daniel Bennett, who made the nomination.

In 2020, Walther joined the Civic Health Index working group to advise on the crafting of the latest statewide index. But, Bennett said, it was her genuine passion for putting people first in her research was crucial to the Index’s success.

“Janell truly went a step further than any other Civic Health Index working group member – she advised on research design, Civic Health Summit advice and facilitation, and analysis of the Index’s qualitative data,” Bennett said. “Janell has dedicated her career to advancing our democracy, and we are all the better for it.”

Meet Janell Walther and her fellow honorees on April 29 at Civic Nebraska’s Strengthening Democracy Awards.

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