Each year, Civic Nebraska’s Build Up Omaha awards recognize Omahans whose work embodies the spirit of a modern, robust democracy. Among our 2019 honorees are community advocates, neighbors, leaders, students, and everyday Omahans. We’ll officially honor the winners at a celebration Jan. 24, but before then, here’s a chance to learn a bit more about what makes them special.
Civic Nebraska honors Dawaune Lamont Hayes, an artist, journalist, and social entrepreneur who brings people, ideas, and resources together for positive social change.
A graduate of Creighton University, Hayes worked in arts advocacy and communications before joining forces with The Omaha Star, Nebraska’s oldest black-owned newspaper, and 101.3 FM Mind & Soul Radio to develop NOISE – North Omaha Information Support Everyone – in 2018.
NOISE is a community-led news initiative committed to strengthening information creation and distribution in North Omaha. As founder and director, Hayes and his team encourage community members to recapture their narrative and inform their neighbors with news they can use.
“Information can disrupt injustice,” Hayes has said. “We all have a unique story to tell. When we reveal our perspectives in an accessible way, we encourage empathy, compassion, and action.”
Hayes was nominated by Julie Smith, director of ONE Omaha, a public-private initiative that facilitates the development of Omaha neighborhoods through communication, education, and advocacy. Civic Nebraska is ONE Omaha’s partner and fiscal agent.
“Dawaune’s passion for community betterment is contagious, and he has a palatable sense of responsibility to use his knowledge and power to help others. In community meetings, Dawaune makes it known that he has hope, optimism, and enthusiasm to make our city a better place,” Smith said. “He isn’t waiting for things to get better. He seizes on every opportunity he can to amplify the good.”
In 2019, Hayes is working on several projects, including a cooperative market, a neighborhood association, a dance and movement studio, and advocating for cannabis legalization and decriminalization in Nebraska.
“Dawaune is a force of civic engagement for Omaha and exemplifies forward-thinking community leadership,” Smith said. “He has hope, optimism, and enthusiasm and isn’t waiting for things to get better. He seizes on every opportunity he can to amplify the good.”