Our Team – Omaha
Arvin Frazier III
Senior Executive Director
Arvin Frazier III is senior executive director of College Possible Omaha, which began providing services to students in the 2011-12 academic year. He leads the Omaha team in all day-to-day management and operational issues, leading strategic organizational development, raising funds, coordinating communications and building relationships with partner schools, universities and organizations in the Omaha metro area.
Arvin comes to College Possible with a long career in public service and education. For nearly 30 years, he worked for the Nebraska Department of Education, progressing to serve as area administrator for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. There, Arvin managed a large staff in delivering vocational rehabilitation services across a multi-county area. Prior to College Possible, Arvin served educational support organizations as the senior director of community programs for Building Bright Futures, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children in poverty. Arvin received his B.S. from Knoxville College and his M.S. from University of Tennessee.
He is a native Omahan, an Omaha North High Magnet School graduate, and an active community member. In service to the city’s educational and workforce development efforts, Arvin serves with such entities as the Inclusive Communities, 100 Black Men, North Omaha Cradle To Career Advisory Committee, Metro Community College President Committee on Equity and Diversity, UNO’s African American Advisory Cabinet, Millard Superintendent Service Advisory Committee and others.
Additionally, Arvin is a member of Salem Baptist church and an active member with the Omaha Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. In his spare time, Arvin enjoys officiating basketball for the Iowa and Nebraska State Athletic Associations. Himself a first-generation college attendee and proud Historical Black Colleges and Universities graduate, the work of College Possible greatly motivates him as he works to empower young adults and future leaders of our community by fulfilling their educational potential.
Contact Arvin at AFrazier@CollegePossible.org.
Senior Program Director
Katie Cunningham is the Senior Program Director of College Possible Omaha. She is a nonprofit professional driven to ensure educational equity and access to higher education in Omaha. Since 2013, Katie has worked for College Possible, a college access and success organization that supports talented, capable students from low-income backgrounds to and through college graduation. As Program Director, Katie leads both the high school and college programs serving over 1,600 high school and college students this year.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (B.A.) and the University of Missouri-St. Louis (M.Ed.), Katie taught third and fourth grade in St. Louis Public Schools with Teach For America and credits her time with AmeriCorps as a life changing experience.
Katie is an active member of the Junior League of Omaha, a member of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce YP Council, a 2019 New Leader’s Council fellow, 2019 Emerging Non-Profit Leader, member of the Non-Profit Association of the Midlands and ynpnGO 2020 Rising Leader Institute, and enjoys distance running. Katie lives in District 66 with her partner Chris, their son, Julian and their daughter, Eleanor.
For questions about the College Possible program, contact Katie at KCunningham@CollegePossible.org.
Courtney is the Development Associate for College Possible Omaha. She received her Bachelor of Arts in communication studies and philosophy/religion from Hastings College. In her position, she helps out with all things communication through social media, newsletters, event planning and networking to promote College Possible. As someone who hopes to be a lifelong learner, education is something that has always been important to Courtney and she believes her passions and values align closely with College Possible's mission. In her free time, you can find Courtney hanging out with her partner, their cat, playing Pokemon Go or reading a new book.
For questions about media relations and communications, contact Courtney at CHanson@CollegePossible.org.
High School Program Coordinator
Mallory is our High School Program Coordinator and oversees three of our Omaha area partner high schools by supporting AmeriCorps coaches and students. She was originally introduced to College Possible as an AmeriCorps coach before joining the Leadership Team. The mission of College Possible has continued to fuel her work toward closing the degree divide by getting students to and through college. Mallory received her Bachelor of Arts in political science and nonprofit management from Morningside University and enjoys spending her free time with family, reading and baking.
College Program Coordinator
Liz Kurtz is a College Program Coordinator at College Possible Omaha. In her position, Liz supervises, trains and supports AmeriCorps College coaches and works to maintain and develop a strong College Program. Liz got her Bachelor’s Degree in German and English from Doane University and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking with an Organizational Science and Leadership Concentration. Liz is passionate about educational equity and uplifting students from diverse backgrounds, and she’s thrilled to be a part of the College Possible team.
College Program Manager
Alisha is College Possible Omaha's College Program Manager and supervises AmeriCorps college coaches at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and College Program staff while managing projects and evaluating data to help students persist toward college graduation. Alisha works at College Possible because she believes each student is deserving of realizing their potential and earning a college degree regardless of their circumstances. When more students from low-income backgrounds are able to actively engage in post-secondary education and a global job market, communities are uplifted and their children earning a college degree become the rule and not the exception. She attended the University of South Dakota for a Bachelor's degree in education and received her masters from UNO. In her free time, Alisha spends time with her dogs and partner, playing sand volleyball, teaching composition at UNO and traveling.
High School Program Coordinator
Jasmine McCain is a High School Program Coordinator at College Possible Omaha. Omaha born and raised, Jasmine is a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree from University of Missouri and a Master of Science from College of Saint Mary. Jasmine has worked in higher education in marketing and housing. She is passionate about fostering growth within the AmeriCorps members who serve as coaches to high school students, and seeing these students successfully navigate their college access journey.
Senior Program Coordinator
Brian is a High School Program Coordinator for College Possible Omaha and helps develop and maintain partner relationships, ensure program quality, and supervise, train and support AmeriCorps members. At the end of the day, Brian's job is to help students achieve their idea of success through supporting their college access and success journey. A University of Nebraska at Omaha graduate, Brian enjoys spending his time working with the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department, serves on the Advisory Council with the Nebraska Children's Home Society, and is a self-rated pickleball pro.
High School Program Manager
Katelyn joined College Possible in 2018 and is currently our High School Program Manager. In this position she oversees program operations at our nine partner high schools. Originally from Ohio, she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Nutrition Dietetics from Ohio State University and began her career in public health at various non-profits. After Katelyn saw the distinct connection between educational equity and public health, she decided to enter the education field. In her free time Katelyn runs a small dog sitting business, enjoys fostering dogs from the Nebraska Humane Society and loves playing fetch with her rescue pup, Cash.
Donor Relations Manager
Allyson is the Donor Relations Manager for College Possible Omaha. She works with individual/annual giving, community campaigns like Do Good Week and Giving Tuesday, and is the staff partner for Champions for College Possible and alumni programming. Allyson received her education from Indiana University, earning a a Bachelor of Science in Arts Management, a Master of Arts in Arts Administration, and a Master of Public Affairs. She believes in College Possible because college was a transformative and life shaping experience for her and everyone who desires this opportunity should have it available to them regardless of background and family financial position.
Melissa Valek is the Development Director of College Possible Omaha. Melissa joined the College Possible Omaha Leadership Team in August 2020. As the Development Director she is responsible for managing, coordinating, and achieving revenue and communication goals to support organizational priorities.
Melissa’s non-profit work began in 2000 when she left a career in human resources and accepted a position as the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at St. Mary’s University. Melissa was later promoted to Associate Director of Development where she led fundraising, stewardship, special events and the advancement services team.
Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a master’s degree in English, Language and Literature from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. Melissa lives in Papillion with her husband Kane and their sons, Austin and Wyatt.
For questions about how to support or get involved with College Possible, contact MValek@CollegePossible.org.
Recruitment and Training Manager
Carly is our Recruitment and Training Manager, and her role is to recruit and onboard AmeriCorps members and provide professional development opportunities and resources for them as they grow throughout their term of service. She strives for AmeriCorps members to be trained and feel prepared to do their role, and develop professionally while they serve. She is a graduate of SUNY Buffalo State in Buffalo, New York, and has a degree in English Literature. Carly came to College Possible to join her passions for non-profit work and educational equity, and has stayed because of the amazing work College Possible does in the community to make a college degree accessible for all, regardless of race, income, or zip code. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with people she loves, especially her partner, daughter, and two Great Pyrenees.
For questions about serving with AmeriCorps for College Possible, contact Carly at CWacker@CollegePossible.org.
Lisa Lackovic, Board Chair
Architectural Representative, Endicott
Lisa Lackovic serves as board chairman of College Possible Omaha. She is the Omaha architectural representative for Endicott Clay Products based out of Fairbury, Nebraska.
She earned a BS degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication which she uses during many of her public speaking opportunities.
Lisa grew up in the masonry industry and has over 35 years’ experience promoting clay brick to architects, interior designers and contractors. She developed landscape contractor contest, “The Ultimate Backyard Challenge” and founded and trademarked Divas of the Dirt™, a networking organization for women in hardscape. She often refers to herself as “The Brick Chick.”
Lisa is past president of CREW Omaha Metro and Habitat for Humanity Omaha and currently serves board of the Nebraska Masonry Alliance and the American Institute of Architects Omaha. She is married to Bob and has 2 grown children and 5 grandchildren. Some of Lisa’s favorite pastimes are traveling, golf, spinning, yoga, gardening and mentoring young professional women.
Jack Becker, Ph.D.
Executive Director and CEO, Joslyn Art Museum
Jack F. Becker, Ph.D. is the Executive Director and CEO of Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska. The largest museum in the state, Joslyn features diverse collections from antiquity to the present, with strengths in European painting, American art, art of the American West, and contemporary art.
Since Becker’s arrival in 2010, the Museum has defined and achieved several new projects and goals that have had a significant impact on its audiences and positioned the institution for the future. These include securing funding for a return to free general admission for the public year-round and growing the Museum’s annual attendance by over fifty percent. Becker established a new Contemporary Artists Project gallery and exhibition series to bring new perspectives on contemporary art to Nebraska and opened a 1,500 square foot hands-on discover gallery – ART WORKS: A Place for Curiosity – that welcomes over 45,000 visitors annually. Under Becker’s tenure, Joslyn has secured significant gifts of art, most notably to its contemporary collection.
In October 2018, Joslyn announced a major physical and programmatic expansion of the Museum, led by architectural firm Snøhetta. Introducing a new Joslyn for the twenty-first century, the transformative project will include a new building and an increase in areas devoted to educational offerings and public engagement.
Becker earned his B.A. in art history at Carleton College; his M.A. in art history and Ph.D. at the University of Deleware; and his M.B.A. at the University of Michigan.
SVP, Enterprise Data Management, First National Bank
Hao joined the First National Bank in 2004 and his team is responsible for leveraging data to make data-driven decisions and identifying analytical solutions to improve the value of the relationship to customer and bank, prior to his current role, he was the vice president of enterprise data management.
Hao grew up in China and came to the United States in 2000 as a graduate student. He obtained his Ph.D. in Applied Economics and MS in Statistics from the University of Kentucky. Hao is passionate about education, and he has been an adjunct professor at the College of Business, Bellevue University since 2009. Currently, he is teaching two graduate level courses at Bellevue University: Microeconomics and Economics for Human Capital Valuation.
Emiliano Lerda, J.D.
Vice President, Paul G Smith Associates
Originally from Argentina, Emiliano Lerda was drawn to America’s Midwest because its agricultural environment reminded him of his native Cordoba province. He joined the Immigrant Legal Center (ILC), formerly known as Justice for Our Neighbors of Nebraska, as executive director in 2011. ILC is a nonprofit law firm that provides free immigration legal services, education, and advocacy for low-income immigrants. When Lerda joined ILC, the organization had a single office, with three full-time employees managing a 500-case load, and an annual operating budget of approximately $250,000. As of 2019, the organization has expanded to nine offices across the state of Nebraska and southwest Iowa. They have 46 full-time employees, 20 of whom are attorneys, managing over 3,800 cases per year with an annual operating budget in excess of $3.6 million. In 2018, ILC successfully completed a $3.3 million capital campaign to acquire a 23,000 square foot office building in Omaha, providing a permanent headquarters for ILC. Lerda left ILC in the late fall of 2019 to become Vice President of Paul G Smith Associates, which focuses on business development and real estate.
Lerda graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies at the University of Northern Iowa, becoming the first international student elected student body president. He holds a Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School with certificates in Public Service Law, Food and Agriculture Law, and International Comparative and Human Rights Law. He has a Master of Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He also completed the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management. Lerda is licensed to practice law in the state of Iowa.
Emily Lischer was born and raised in St. Louis, MO and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1996. She is the mother to two boys, Will and Charlie and married to Tom, who is the Executive Vice President of Operations for Union Pacific Railroad. Emily is passionate about volunteering her time for various nonprofits throughout the metro area, including serving as a board member for Phoenix Academy and College Possible. In addition, she serves on the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Friends Board, sits on the United Way of the Midlands, Women United Steering Committee, chairs the United Way of the Midlands, Women United Mary C. Lopez Lunch and Learn, and is an advisory board member for Metropolitan Omaha Educational Consortium Raise Me To Read initiative. In addition, to her various volunteer commitments, Emily is extremely passionate about educating the community about dyslexia. She is also an ironman triathlete and marathon runner.
Andrew Rikli, ED.D.
Superintendent, Papillion La Vista Community Schools
Dr. Andrew Rikli has served as the Superintendent of the Papillion La Vista Schools since July 2013. Prior to his work in Papillion La Vista, Dr. Rikli worked 10 years with the Westside Community Schools in Omaha as an elementary principal, central office director, and assistant superintendent. Rikli previously worked as a consultant with the Nebraska Department of Education and has served as a classroom teacher, coach, activities director, and curriculum and assessment writer. In addition to his work with PK-12 public schools, Dr. Rikli is an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and serves as a governor-appointed executive team member of the Nebraska Professional Practices Commission.
Rikli is a member of the American Association of School Administrators, ASCD, PDK International, the Horace Mann League, and the Beta Theta Pi alumni association. Rikli is the past Chairman of the Board for the University of Nebraska-Omaha Alumni Association, a current member of the Teammates Mentoring Board of Directors, and an Executive Team member of the Concord Mediation Center Board of Directors. Rikli is also a member of the College Possible Advisory Board and a member of the Offutt Advisory Council where he serves as the honorary commander of the 338th Combat Training Squadron. Dr. Rikli is a graduate of Leadership Sarpy, Leadership Omaha, the Midlands Superintendent Academy, and a member of the Papillion Lions’ Club. Dr. Rikli is also a member of the Urban School Superintendents Association of America (USAA), the Educational Research and Development Institute (ERDI), and Omaha Zoological Society Advisory Council. Andy was named a PDK Emerging Leader, UNO Hollie Bethel Distinguished Alumni Award winner, UNO Outstanding Service Award winner, and CHI “Friend of Midlands” community leader award in 2011, 2014, 2015, and 2019 respectively.
Dr. Rikli holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and completed his doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Andy is a fourth-generation Nebraskan who graduated from Auburn High School in Auburn, Nebraska. Dr. Rikli and his wife Amy reside in Papillion with their three children, Adrianna, Meredith, and Sam. They are members of Calvary Shadow Lake Church.
Vice President and Senior Investment Strategist, Wells Fargo Bank
Tyler graduated from San Diego State University, with a degree in finance. Currently employed at Wells Fargo, he builds and manages the investment portfolios for high net worth clients and institutions. When asked why he wanted to join the College Possible board, Tyler wrote:
“What drew me to College Possible was its mission and drive to help first generation college students succeed on campuses around the country. Having volunteered at my alma mater with students searching for careers and entering the professional business environment, College Possible stood out as a fantastic organization and an opportunity to volunteer and work with others in Omaha that share a similar passion.”
Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
Gretchen Twohig is chief compliance officer and general counsel at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE). In her role, she oversees enterprise risk management, compliance, corporate audit, legal, government relations and is corporate secretary.
Prior to her current role, Twohig served as vice president and General Counsel for BCBSNE. Before joining BCBSNE, she was a partner at Baird Holm LLP.
Twohig is active in community service and serves on the boards of College Possible and the Women’s Center for Advancement. She was also a participant in the 2006 ICAN Leadership in Action program and is a member of Leadership Omaha Class 36. Additionally, Twohig is a United Way bridgebuilder and served as BCBSNE campaign chair in 2019.
Deputy County Attorney, Sarpy County
Mark grew up in a rural Nebraska town called Utica. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015 with a degree in political science. Following his undergraduate, Mark attended Creighton Law. Upon passing the Bar exam, Mark became a Deputy Sarpy County Attorney in 2019. He sits on the Executive Board for the Nebraska State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section. He also is an Executive Board member of the Nebraska Child Support Enforcement Association. In his spare time, Mark enjoys reading and watching sports.
Nonprofit Account Director, LinkedIn
Brooke Geyer joined the Omaha College Possible Champions team in 2020 and is a Nonprofit Account Director for LinkedIn. In her role at LinkedIn, she builds relationships with nonprofit organizations across the US and Canada to empower them with their hiring, learning and development, employee engagement, and fundraising needs. She also is a co-lead for the Women at LinkedIn employee resource group, which is an inclusive community focusing on empowering and inspiring women and allies to grow their careers, build community, and amplify voices, while maintaining authenticity.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Post-graduation, she has followed her passion to support students for success during and after college by joining the College Possible Champions team and serving 5 years on the UNO College of Business Administration Scholars Academy mentoring program. In her free time, Brooke enjoys being a dog-mom of three, exploring local restaurants, traveling, and reading historical fiction books.
Senior Recruiter, Talent Acquisition, First National Bank of Omaha
Whitney Hoskins is part of the Talent Acquisition team at First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO). She received her Bachelor of business administration in general business from Eastern Kentucky University and a Master of Arts in adult & higher education specializing in communication from Morehead State University. She had previously worked in higher education within the Business Administration offices and Financial Aid. Whitney was born and raised in Southeastern Kentucky and has been a resident of Omaha since May 2017. Whitney has a passion for growing relationships and the community.
Benefits Coordinator, Triage
Beth Kalal, a member of Champions for College Possible, works as a Benefits Coordinator for Triage. She received her bachelor's in mathematics with a minor in chemistry from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In March 2021, Beth received her Master's of business administration from Bellevue University. She loves to dance, read, and give back to the community. She is an active member of the Junior League of Omaha, where she is currently the first chair of a new fundraiser. She has a passion for children and when she is not busy, her 3 nephews keep her active.
Stock Broker, TD Ameritrade
Justin King, a member of Champions for College Possible, works as a Stock Broker for new clients at TD Ameritrade. He graduated from the University of Nebraska -Lincoln in May 2016 and majored in Economics. He loves to watch football, especially the Huskers. When weather permits you will see him on the golf course. Family is important as well as always learning and growing.
Mental Health Therapist, Student Counseling Services for Creighton University
Maddie Moore is an Omaha local who attended Creighton for her Bachelor’s and the University of Nebraska at Omaha for her Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She became involved with College Possible as an AmeriCorps member & Junior Coach at Omaha South High Magnet School. She currently works at Creighton in Student Counseling Services as a licensed mental health professional in the role of Assistant Director of Student Outreach. Outside of work, she considers herself a “foodie” and is a big fan of outdoor activities, which includes everything from patio happy hours to hiking to international travel.
Community Development Manager, Canopy South
Juan Padilla is the Community Development Manager at Canopy South which is a newer nonprofit in Omaha helping revitalize neighborhoods in South Omaha. Prior to working at Canopy South, Juan worked at the Omaha Community Foundation for two and a half years on their Donor Services team. Before joining the nonprofit sector, he worked for nearly six years at Union Pacific on the operations team. Originally from Guatemala, Juan grew up in Omaha and attended Doane College where he played soccer there, and then had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant for both the men’s and women’s soccer teams. Currently, he is on the board of MENTOR Nebraska and Future Kids.
Small Business Specialist and Talent Solutions, LinkedIn
Jaquelyn went to Iowa State University for 3 years for architecture school, but decided to pursue a different path and finished her business degree at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her professional life has all revolved around recruiting, human resources, managing employees, and now selling to and training staffing agencies and headhunters. Her passion is to help people, whether it is training people on a product, answering questions, resolving issues, connecting qualified individuals to a job, finding the right candidate for a client, volunteering, and the list goes on! She loves walking her German Shepherd, riding her road bicycle, traveling, and pretty much anything outdoors!