Civic Nebraska honors 5 with Strengthening Democracy Awards

Join us June 9 in Lincoln to honor these civic catalysts, educators, voting rights advocates, community builders, and young leaders.

Civic Nebraska on June 9 will honor five Nebraskans who create a more modern and robust democracy in the Cornhusker State.
The 2022 Strengthening Democracy Awards honorees include educators, advocates, students, and everyday Nebraskans who demonstrate exceptional civic leadership and who embody Civic Nebraska’s vision of a collaborative, innovative democratic society.
“A strong democracy does not build itself. It requires dedicated Americans putting community, learning, innovation, empowerment, and optimism together and making them work for the common good,” said Adam Morfeld, Civic Nebraska’s executive director. “Our 2022 honorees have lifted up these values every day, by word and deed, and we are proud to celebrate them.”
Civic Nebraska’s 2022 Strengthening Democracy honorees are:

Valeria Rodriguez

Community Builder

For increasing access to opportunities for all residents of the Panhandle.
In 2017, Valeria co-founded Empowering Families, which builds a stronger and more welcoming community through education, civic participation, and individual empowerment. She has helped organize DACA and naturalization clinics, registered residents to vote, worked to ensure a complete 2020 census count, and hosts a yearly Multicultural Youth Leadership Conference for 200 area students.

Erin Feichtinger

Civic Catalyst

For fighting for housing justice through education and advocacy. 
Erin leads calls to action and guides Nebraskans in working together to tackle the state’s housing affordability challenges. In the most recent session of the Legislature, Erin was instrumental in organizing, educating, and activating hundreds of Nebraskans to fight for rental assistance and other issues of fundamental housing fairness at the state and local levels.

Ebony McKiver

Champion of Learning

For promoting quality civic education across the state. 
As the State of Nebraska Department of Education’s social studies specialist, Ebony leads our state’s thoughtful work in grounding social studies education in facts and history. Ebony guides the state’s efforts to implement the Nebraska Legislature’s revisions to civics graduation requirements, and does so while centering those who have been historically marginalized in the discussion.

Brooklyn Terrill

Young Civic Leader

For conceiving, co-writing, and lobbying for meaningful legislation in 2022. 
Brooklyn, a student at Nebraska U., was a key force behind LB519, an immunity policy for certain drug and alcohol charges that would be potentially prohibitive to a survivor or witness of sexual assault reporting the crime. The Legislature passed LB519 and Gov. Ricketts signed it into law this year. Brooklyn also volunteers at a local sexual assault crisis line and serves on the Government Liaison Committee for Nebraska U.’s student government.

Jennifer Yi-We Hernandez

Voting Rights Guardian

For her innovation to ensure accessibility to voting for community members. 
Amid the onset of COVID-19, Jennifer recognized that some voters needed help getting their mail-in ballots turned in on time, so she created Ballot Buddies, a volunteer initiative to assist stuck-at-home voters with getting their signed, sealed ballots turned into the Douglas County Election Commission. Jennifer recruits and vets volunteers, promotes the importance of voting, and provides nonpartisan education about the election process and local deadlines.
Strengthening Democracy Awards will take place at 5:30 p.m. CDT on June 9 at DelRay 817 in Lincoln. The celebration will include drinks, heavy appetizers, and performances from Nebraska State Poet Matt Mason and Zedeka Poindexter, an Omaha slam poetry champion and poet-in-residence at the UNION for Contemporary Art.

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Following the passage of LB20, which removes the extra two-year waiting period for Nebraskans who have completed a felony sentence to vote, Nebraska’s Voting Rights Restoration Coalition issued the following statement.

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