Ben Pankonin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO/Cofounder of Social Assurance, a software company that helps over 1,000 banks and investment firms to market faster. Ben is a graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University in Business and Computer Science and has led the growth for multiple tech companies. He is the recipient of the 2017 Silicon Prairie News Executive of the Year. Ben and his wife Amber are active in the Lincoln community.
Professor of music
David Nabb is Professor of Music at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After surviving a stroke in 2000, he worked with Jeff Stelling of Stelling Brass & Winds in Kearney, NE to develop an award-winning one-handed, toggle-key saxophone. Accolades for Nabb and Stelling's instrument include the premiere “playable” award from the One Handed Musical Instrument Trust’s 2013 competition, as well as awards from VSA, NAPBIRT, and NAMM at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Doug Durham is a 28+ year veteran of software engineering and development. Creating complex software systems has been the core of his work experience. He has held a wide variety of software development roles in industries such as aerospace and defense, healthcare, manufacturing, ecommerce, consumer web applications, and internet network services. In 2016, Doug was recognized by the AIM Institute as the Nebraska Tech Innovator of the Year. Doug holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.A. in Finance and Management from Webster University in St.Louis.
Nebraska Commissioner of Education
Matt is the Commissioner of Education and has spent his professional career in Nebraska community and education policy. Matt is a native of Nebraska and is the proud husband of Angela and their 5 children. He takes the role “Dad” to heart in his roles and responsibilities for all of Nebraska’s children.
Nebraska Community Foundation
Jeff Yost is President and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), a grassroots organization dedicated to empowering community leaders to build and sustain their hometowns. Yost teaches around the world about asset-based community development and generative network building. Yost’s passions include helping community volunteers understand their individual and collective potential, entrusting local leaders with responsibility and authority in their communities, and inspiring confidence in the future of Nebraska and our hometowns.
As a North Omaha native, Jewel begs the notion that circumstances are ambiguous. As a scholar, speaker, designer, and urban strategist, she discovers and implements ways to use collective economics as means to discover how we can determine our own version of what we call, reality. Through research, civic engagement, and design theories, she works toward humanizing the power of collaboration to address economic problems that affect millions of people on a daily basis.
Kim Roth Howe
By day, Kim Roth-Howe is the founding principal at CoCreative Labs, providing group facilitation and consulting for organizations seeking inclusive decision-making and authentic stakeholder engagement. By night, she is an annoyingly involved neighbor with a fierce belief in the power of community and connection across difference.
Drama director and advocate
Rachel is the Assistant to the Dean for the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at UNL. She’s also the Director – Choreography Focus of the Penguin Project at Lincoln Community Playhouse, a theatre production where all of the roles are played by children with special needs who are partnered by peer mentors.
Tim has a heart for seeing rural America prosper. By using his background in technology, innovation, and bringing people together, Tim works hard to make lives better for the people of rural Nebraska and rural America. Tim has served as the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Wheat Belt Public Power in Sidney, NE since 2009.
Will Hutchinson, is known for his unique voice and his ability to tell vivid stories in his songwriting. While folksy, his Americana music is distinct from the Nashville and east Appalachian sound. The Nebraska roots in his music shine through in a refreshing way and has been described as “a sound that captures what it is like to be in love.” Will has released 4 full-length albums of original music, performed on the streets and in clubs throughout the United States and Europe and been awarded as a finalist in the international John Lennon Songwriting Competition with over 25,000 contestants.