Our 2019 Strengthening Democracy honorees are …

Our 2019 Strengthening Democracy Awards honorees include educators, advocates, students, and everyday Nebraskans who demonstrate exceptional civic leadership.


On May 2, Civic Nebraska will honor Nebraskans of all ages whose efforts ensure a more modern and robust democracy in the Cornhusker State. The 2019 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 society. Civic Nebraska will honor the winners from 5 to 7 p.m. May 2 at The DelRay Ballroom, 817 R St. in Lincoln. Get tickets now.

“Civic Nebraska was founded on the idea that a strong democracy does not build itself. It takes dedicated citizens of all ages working together to strengthen our civic institutions,” said Adam Morfeld, Civic Nebraska’s founder and executive director. “Strengthening Democracy Awards honor civic advocates for their day-in, day-out efforts to build democracy that may otherwise go unnoticed.”

Civic Nebraska’s 2019 Strengthening Democracy honorees are:

Outstanding Voting Rights Advocate: Robin Vodehnal, for her longtime service as an Election Protector and advocate for voting rights in Greater Nebraska. During the 2018 general election, she played an instrumental role in recruiting nonpartisan election observers and voting rights advocates in central Nebraska.

Community Connector: Bryan Seck, for connecting and advocating with a message of care and compassion. Seck partners with Spreetail and Duncan Aviation to deliver beds to families in need. Coupled with his community board service, his strategic planning consulting business, and workforce development efforts, Seck is a champion for civic health in Lincoln.  

Defender of Democracy: Edison McDonald, for vigilantly working to expand rights for others. McDonald has been a powerful and competent voice at the Nebraska Legislature for disability rights and is a valued partner of Civic Nebraska’s Election Protection Program.

Outstanding Neighborhood Leader: Beth Menhusen, for being an active community builder in North Central Lincoln. Menhusen has partnered with Collective Impact Lincoln to create programs that support economic and social connection of neighbors. She facilitates programs that build bridges between new and established communities in the Clinton and Hartley neighborhoods.

Outstanding Educator: Charity Iromuanya, for her support of after-school programs at Everett Elementary. She also has planned, facilitated, and coordinated a popular spring break and summer program with Everett. She ensures students get opportunities that may not be presented to them otherwise such as visiting universities, zoos, bookstores and other institutions that prompt students to think, “I could see myself doing this someday.”

Building Young Leaders Award: Nola Derby-Bennett, for her work leading Lincoln’s 26-school Community Learning Center initiative. Derby-Bennett manages the delivery of an array of programs and activities with community partners including Civic Nebraska. She works closely with both after-school providers and school personnel to ensure that Lincoln’s CLCs deliver high-quality academic and enrichment programming.

Outstanding Student Leaders: Keziah McIntosh and Matviy Yarmolyuk. Keziah, a fifth-grader at Campbell Elementary, is a member of Student Council and a mentor to younger students. Matviy, a third-grader at Campbell, leads by example through kindness toward peers, respect for adults, and enthusiasm for learning.

Vann Price, Lincoln Public Schools’ supervisor of Secondary Personnel Services, will deliver the event’s keynote address. Since 2018, Price has recruited and placed secondary teacher transfers, provided support service including promotions and counseling, the district’s Leadership Development Program, summer school staffing, and other assignments for Lincoln Public Schools.

Price also served at Lincoln North Star High School since its opening in 2002 — first as associate principal and, from 2011-18, as the Navigators’ principal. A 29-year veteran of Lincoln Public Schools, Price also has taught at Campbell and Humann elementary schools.

Tickets are on sale here. See you on May 2!

Civic Nebraska’s 2019 Strengthening Democracy Award winners are, top row, L to R: Beth Menhusen, Bryan Seck, Nola Derby-Bennett, Matviy Yarmolyuk. Bottom row, L to R: Charity Iromuanya, Edison McDonald, Robin Vodehnal, Keziah McIntosh. Join us May 2 as we honor these exceptional Nebraskans.

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After School Programs

  • Sherman Elementary School

    5618 N 14th Ave.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Lewis and Clark Middle School

    6901 Burt St.
    Omaha, NE 68132

  • Lothrop Magnet Elementary

    3300 N. 22nd St.
    Omaha, NE 68110

  • Campbell Elementary School

    2200 Dodge St.
    Lincoln, NE 68521

  • Lincoln High School

    2229 J St.
    Lincoln, NE 68510

  • Lincoln Northeast High School

    2635 N. 63rd St.
    Lincoln, NE 68507