The Civic Nebraska Writers Group returns

Second-year writers Charlyne Berens, Jordan Martin, Kevin Shinn, Astrid Munn, Andrew Long, Rebecca Svec, and Tammy Day join newcomers Liz Codina, Melissa Garcia, and Dawaune Hayes.


The Civic Nebraska Writers Group, which made its debut early last year, is off and writing again! A collection of politically diverse community advocates across the state, the Group members share their thoughts on topics ranging from civic engagement and government, to civic life and community involvement, to democracy and politics, for statewide audiences.

The 2020 season for the 10-member group began Jan. 17 with Charlyne Berens’ examination of the eternal tension in the United States between individualism and the common good. Berens, professor emerita of journalism at the University of Nebraska, points out the harm we do to each individual when we ignore our mutuality, as well as the benefit each individual receives when we embrace it.

Of our 10 columnists from the 2019 Civic Nebraska Writers Group, seven return this year. In addition to Berens, second-year writers include Jordan Martin of Lincoln, Kevin Shinn of Lincoln, Astrid Munn of Omaha, Andrew Long of McCook, Rebecca Svec of Milligan, and Tammy Day of Norfolk.

They are joined by three newcomers:

Liz Codina, Omaha. Liz, program officer at the Peter Kiewit Foundation, supports local efforts to build thriving communities. Previously, she worked for nonprofit agencies in program management and development roles. She is among the leaders of the South Omaha Business Association and is vice-president of the Metro Young Latino Professionals Association.

Melissa Garcia, Broken Bow. Melissa, community affairs manager at Black Hills Energy, is a native of Broken Bow. She has taken on a number of roles in her community, including leading in the area’s economic development that has included the creation of over 200 new jobs and over 30 new businesses through a community-oriented plan. Melissa has contributed to TEDxLincoln, the University of Nebraska System President’s Advisory Council, and the Rural Futures Institute Community Innovations project.

Dawaune Hayes, Omaha. Dawaune, an artist, journalist, and social entrepreneur, brings people, ideas, and resources together for positive change. 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.

The 2020 Civic Nebraska Writers Group. Top row, L-R: Kevin Shinn; Astrid Munn; Dawaune Hayes; Melissa Garcia; Rebecca Svec. Bottom row, L-R: Tammy Day; Jordan Martin; Charlyne Berens; Liz Codina; Andrew Long.

Look for new columns on Fridays here at In addition, Civic Nebraska is continuing its partnership with the Nebraska Press Association to share Writers Group columns with NPA member newspapers, which includes 200 daily and weekly titles around our state.

Thank you in advance to our amazing writers. We’re looking forward to an engaged and engaging year of interesting and thought-provoking columns.

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