April 2023

05/23 at 6:00 p.m. - Queer Table Talk - Faith & the Queer Community

06/27 at 6:00 p.m. - Omaha Table Talk - We Aren't All Mexican: Understanding Latine Diaspora

View Full Inclusive Communities Schedule Here

How's that shared leadership thing going?

I get asked that a lot- and while I can’t speak for Cammy – I can compare where we are now by reflecting on how my role at Inclusive Communities has shifted over the past (almost) 8 years. Conventional leadership models typically show us one person balancing the needs of the board, the finances and operations of the agency, the overall fundraising, the programmatic aspects of evaluation and curriculum, and the culture setting. There’s also the feedback that is constantly being received from the team, the community, the clients, the participants, the donors. The leader is characteristically the one person who is constantly surveying the land, adapting the outputs, considering the inputs, making sure everyone gets paid and feels a sense of value as being a part of the work. 


“It’s lonely at the top” is a phrase we often hear about folks leading an organization. I started at Inclusive Communities in 2015, the agency was in a bit of trouble, and I stepped into it knowing the financial and reputation issues that the organization was facing. After spending some time interviewing staff, community, volunteers, former participants, former board members. There was more lurking in the shadows that revealed to me how unprepared I was. Everyone wanted something different from this organization. Everyone felt a personal connection in some way – but not everyone felt that connection in the same way. It was a complex situation. In setting up the structures and sustainability of the institution – I found it was clashing with the true purpose of the mission. We want to confront prejudice, bigotry and discrimination -but how are our own internal systems set up and preventing us from truly freeing ourselves from a supremacy culture?


Enter in: the co- Executive Director model, which has been a great experiment for us - it has taught me a lot. Specifically, about what things look like in practice vs. theory; how to balance my own self-care to make sure that I’m showing up my best self for the demands of the growing organization; how important trust is in our partnership – that despite our approach to the work – we know we both have the best interests of longevity and impact of the organization at heart. It has been nice to be able to “tag out” and allow someone else lead the charge. It’s creating sustainability to prep us for the future.


While co-directorship is not for everyone - here at IC- this leadership style serves to spread the burden of decision making by allowing two leaders to take responsibility for the organization, but it also serves to broaden the perspectives and strategies at play, creating a more informed and comprehensive outcome. This has led to our journey to improved flexibility and agility in the organization, while also seeking to provide mentorship and guidance to staff working in any part of the organization. Our goal is that everyone would lead from their seat within the organization.


Shared leadership also has far-reaching implications outside of our little bubble, for example, in the community itself. Having two experienced and capable members of the community leading a diversity and inclusion organization can serve to model a strong sense of direction, as well as a greater sense of engagement from the community itself. We know there are other co-ED’s in our community and many others that have reached out to understand the realities of what it looks like in practice. Cammy and I are honest about the process we went through and the (sometimes) messiness of putting it into practice. It hasn’t been perfect, but it is certainly providing a greater visibility to the true complexities of inclusivity and leadership. The concept of sharing can serve to promote deeper levels of understanding and awareness within the community, thus leading to even greater collaboration and understanding between members of the organization, community, and beyond.


Will IC always have two Executive Directors? Probably not. Inclusive Communities has been here for 85 years it will NEED to continue to evolve to stay relevant. I would say it is working for Inclusive Communities now. We’ve seen incredible growth. Inclusive Communities has quadrupled our budget in the last 8 years and our team is three times the size as when I started here.   I’m so grateful to Cammy who has been an incredible partner in this experiment. Like Nebraska, it’s not for everyone – but it really has been good for us.

Maggie W.

Co-Executive Director

Conversations for Change

On March 21, we welcomed actor, writer, producer, and former White House staff, Kal Penn to Omaha and the Holland Performing Arts Center for our inaugural Jane H. & Sidney H. Brooks Conversations for Change. We had over 900 community members in attendance from Omaha, Council Bluffs, and even Norfolk! It was an excellent first-time event, championing unity and cross-cultural understanding through discourse.

Let's Celebrate!

Calling all former, current, and future Inclusive Communities volunteers! Sizzle, Pop, Flair is a gathering to celebrate the work of all of our volunteers, both past and present, and welcome new ones.

We welcome you to stop by to learn more about our programs and how you can get involved. Non-alcoholic drinks, music, and a taco bar will be provided.

May 15, 2023

3-7 p.m.

Hot Shops Art Center

1301 Nicholas St.

Omaha, NE 68102

This event is FREE and open to the public. We encourage you to register.

Register for Sizzle, Pop, Flair!

Queer Table Talk

REGISTER for our upcoming Queer Table Talk!

Faith and the Queer Community

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center

6400 University Drive South

Omaha, NE 68182

Register Here

There is a virtual and in-person option to attend. If attending in person, food will be provided.


an update by Katie Petry

This past March 31 - April 3, our IncluCity Counselors, CITs, and staff welcomed 30 Delegates and 9 Advisors from 5 schools and organizations across central and eastern Nebraska, as well as South Dakota. Connections and learning started off immediately on Day 1 and continued strong throughout the entire weekend! We shared amazing and healing conversations on a variety of topics; enjoyed a cozy bonfire and s’mores; and filled our opportunity time with yoga, dance parties, nature hikes, epic volleyball matches, and so much more!

Thank you to all our hardworking and tremendously dedicated Counselors, CITs, LMHPs, nurses, and Advisors for making this another amazing year of IncluCity camps! Your love and spirit keeps the IncluCity family strong; we couldn’t do this without you. Looking forward to growing and learning even more with you next year!

We also can’t express enough gratitude, “O”s, and well wishes for our Senior Program Partner Colin McGrew who is transitioning into a new stage of his life journey. Colin has played a pivotal role in IncluCity camp success and longevity over the past several years and will be thoroughly missed by all!

Previously on Omaha Table Talk

Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

You can catch all of our past Omaha Table Talk events on our YouTube channel!


Program Partner

Exclusion at the Intersection

by Drew Pauly

I want to talk about a topic we don’t often hear spoken of in the world of DEI - those that, like me, are biracial. It’s an experience that merits a conversation as we are a part of the communities that often get mentioned. Here at Inclusive Communities, we have a practice called Community Agreements. These are shared guidelines for fostering dialogue in a healthy way. The one I am using for this blog is to speak from your experience. This piece is in no way comprehensive of all of the nuances that impact DEI work, nor is it - or I - expected to represent a non-monolithic identity group.

I grew up the youngest of two kids from my mom’s side. She is German and Italian. My biological father is a Black American of Nigerian and Ghanaian descent. Most people in the States see me and see only a Black man. They do not see the cultural diversity of my ethnic background. My dad wasn’t a part of my upbringing; I didn’t have an opportunity to learn about and be immersed in black culture growing up. I was raised by the white Italian side of my family in predominantly white environments. Early in my childhood, my mother moved my older brother and me to Italy because her then-husband needed to return for his work. I didn’t return to the States until I was nearly 18. I have always identified as Italian and Black.

Growing up, I was always the odd one out. I didn’t look like my cousins, I didn’t have the same experiences, and I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was constantly trying to figure out where I fit in. Once I returned to the States and met my biological father, I started to learn more about my African American heritage. I connected with my father’s side of the family, and I began embracing my biracial identity. Much of my initial learning of my Black identity is thanks to Big Mama’s daughter Ms. Gladys and her kids, who taught me what only a Black mother could teach. She provided a space where I felt a sense of belonging.

However, I still faced challenges. I was often excluded from both black and white communities. I was told that I wasn’t black enough and that I wasn’t white enough. Outside of that safe space, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I remember years after being back in the States and having acclimated to life here, my own biological father telling me that I had never experienced racism, even though I had. I experienced racism not only as a person seen as Black but also as the son of a system-impacted black man and the impact of his own subjugation to systems of oppression. 

It wasn’t until I started speaking up about my experiences that I felt I was seen and heard. I started connecting with other biracial people and feeling like I belonged. I realized that I wasn’t alone. There are millions of biracial people in the world, and we all share similar experiences. We are all trying to figure out where we fit in, and we are all trying to find our place in the world. I am proud to be biracial. I am proud of my African American heritage, and I am proud of my Italian heritage. I am proud of my unique perspective and my ability to connect with people from all walks of life. Having experienced exclusion at the intersections of diversity allowed me to navigate intercultural dynamics in a way only biracial people can.

I recognize my privileges due to my proximity to whiteness and what that means for me when engaging in the broader conversations surrounding race and gender in America. That is what really motivated me to dive into Black feminism. Here’s where I’ll wrap up this quick blog post because the conversation about allyship in black feminism is a blog post for another time.

I am a biracial man, our voices are valid, and I am here to stay.

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