Introducing: The Civic Nebraska Writers Group

The Civic Nebraska Writers Group will share thoughts on topics related to civic life, civil discourse, media literacy, community engagement, voting rights, and democracy.

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This Friday, we’re launching the Civic Nebraska Writers Group, a collection of community advocates across our state who will share their thoughts on topics related to civic life — government, civil discourse, media literacy, community engagement, voting rights, even democracy in general. Look for new Civic Nebraska Writers Group columns on Friday at CivicNebraska.org and occasionally in local newspapers around Nebraska.

Writers come from a range of professions, backgrounds, regions, and political viewpoints. The Civic Nebraska Writers Group aims to provide a home for the perspectives of changemakers, thinkers, community leaders, and everyday Nebraskans; create a platform for informed and timely commentary on current events; maintain a place for civil discourse; and enlighten our audiences about different aspects of civic life across the state and from different points of view.

The Civic Nebraska Writers Group is:

Charlyne Berens, Lincoln. Charlyne, a retired professor and associate dean of the University of Nebraska College of Journalism and Mass Communications, is passionate about the First Amendment and freedom of expression. She also spent 14 years as editor and co-publisher of the Seward County Independent. She has published two books about the Nebraska Legislature and a biography of former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska). In addition, Charlyne is a member of the Civic Nebraska Board of Advisers.

Jordan Martin, Crete. Jordan, a native of northeast Nebraska, teaches social studies to seventh- through twelfth-graders at Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools. Jordan also moonlights as an assistant one-act drama coach in the fall and a speech judge in the spring. In his spare time, he enjoys ping-pong, video games, and traveling. Jordan lives in Crete.

Kevin Shinn, Lincoln. A chef, writer, and entrepreneur, Kevin is the executive chef at Lincoln’s Blueblood Brewing Co., where he spends his time building unique menus with “burgers, brats, and smoke.” From 2007-17, Kevin was owner and executive chef of bread & cup in the Lincoln Haymarket and is a respected and innovative thought leader on Lincoln’s cultural, economic, and civic life. No matter the endeavor, Kevin finds he comes back to the same main pursuits: Setting the table, having important conversations, and seeing ideas become reality.

Astrid Munn, Scottsbluff. Astrid, an attorney with the Robert Pahlke Law Group of Scottsbluff, advocates on her clients’ behalf to insure them paths to justice as promised by the Seventh Amendment. A native of Scottsbluff, Astrid began her career as a journalist. She earned her JD from Washington University in St. Louis and previously practiced law in Maryland, focusing on immigration, family law, and criminal defense.

Andy Long, McCook. Andy, executive director of the McCook Economic Development Corp., leads community efforts to facilitate the formation, retention, attraction, and expansion of businesses in the McCook area. He served five years as vice president of McCook Community College, where he helped restart the Hormel Entrepreneurship Program and launch the McCook College Leadership Program. He also is director of Cultivate Rural Leaders, a nonprofit organization providing rural communities and organizations with leadership education.

Barry Thomas, Omaha. Barry, the supervisor of social studies for Omaha Public Schools, is a former teacher at both Omaha North High School and McMillan Magnet Center. He is immediate past-president of the Nebraska State Council for Social Studies, a member of the Nebraska Advisory Council for National Geographic Society, and board member of the National Social Studies Supervisor Association. He has served on the Great Plains Black History Museum board and Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaboration. He also is on the advisory board for the New Leadership Council as well as the Empowerment Network. Barry is also an executive board member of the Omaha Branch of the NAACP.

Mike Flood, Norfolk. Mike, the former speaker of the Nebraska Legislature who served as a state senator from 2005 to 2013, is a lawyer and owner of Flood Communications. Mike believes it is important for Nebraskans to connect with each other around what unites our communities rather than what divides them. Our success as a state, Mike says, depends on our ability to respect one another and to understand the issues affecting different parts of the state. He serves on several boards, including Invest Nebraska, TeamMates, and the Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha.

Rebecca Svec, Milligan. Rebecca, the marketing coordinator for Fortify Group of Shickley, Geneva, and North Platte, grew up on a dryland farm in Gage County and now enjoys life on a farm near Milligan. Her career in journalism, communications, and marketing has put her in the middle of interesting stories in communities around the state. Rebecca spent the first part of her career in newspapers, including the Hastings Tribune and Lincoln Journal Star. She then served as director of communications at Doane University before joining Fortify Group in 2013.

Tammy Day, Norfolk. Tammy and her husband Brandon own and operate Daycos Inc., which provides revenue management for transportation service providers across the country. Tammy’s work focuses on Daycos4Good, which uses the business as a force for good in the world.  She is a member of the Norfolk Public Schools Board of Education and is active in the Connie Fund, Stand for Schools, and Women’s Network of Nebraska.  

Drew Davies, Omaha. Drew founded Oxide Design Co. in Omaha in 2001 to create designs that solve problems through clarity. Drew is national president emeritus of AIGA, the professional association for design, and has been honored as an AIGA Fellow. He also has the distinction of being the only Nebraskan ever to serve as a judge for the Communication Arts Design Annual, the most exclusive major design competition in the world. He is passionate about design, family, and scuba diving. Drew also serves on Civic Nebraska’s Board of Advisers.

Angie Remington, Omaha. Angie, deputy director for the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, has 15 years of experience in nonprofit communications and issue advocacy. She believes deeply in helping communities build power to affect systemic change through organizing, leadership development, and collaboration. Angie also serves on the board of directors for Survivors Rising and Earth Day Omaha.

The Civic Nebraska Writers Group. Top row, from left: Charlyne Berens, Kevin Shinn, Angie Remington, Barry Thomas, Andy Long, Rebecca Svec.
Bottom row, from left: Drew Davies, Tammy Day, Mike Flood, Jordan Martin, Astrid Munn.

Thanks to our Writers Group members for contributing to this project — it’s going to be a lot of fun (and interesting, and informative, too, we’re sure!). And, if you have thoughts or suggestions for column ideas, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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Randy Moody

Interesting group. I look forward to their views. Great idea

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