Radical Imagination

On June 6th, over 250 people attended United Way of the Midlands’ and Heartland 2050’s “Everyone Prospers: The Path to Equity” Symposium featuring Dr. Michael McAfee, President of PolicyLink, as the keynote speaker. Michael McAfee oversees strategy development and the achievement of policy wins that ensure all people in America have economic security, live in healthy communities of opportunity and benefit from a just society. His vocation is to achieve equity in America – just and fair inclusion into a society in which all can participate, prosper and reach their full potential. The event began with a panel discussion amongst Shawna Forsberg (United Way of the Midlands), Thomas Warren (Urban League of Nebraska), David Brown (Greater Omaha Chamber), Karna Loewenstein (Heartland 2050), and Vicki Quaites-Ferris (The Empowerment Network) on how their work/goals fit in together and led to the day’s event.

Following the panel, Dr. Michael McAfee gave an inspiring keynote address. His message promoted radical imagination and pushing forward when it comes to policy change. He suggested that attendees constantly ask themselves what they can do to scale-up their efforts and do the next thing. After Dr. McAfee’s address, table groups reflected on his message and a few volunteer group-spokespersons were given the mic to share their thoughts.

Next, Vicki Quaites-Ferris presented the work that The Empowerment Network and organizations of the Heartland 2050 Equity & Engagement Committee have done to advance equity in our region.

In the next segment of the event, Jamila Henderson (PolicyLink) presented a high level overview of the 2018 Regional Equitable Growth Profile’s updated data points. Following her presentation, table groups engaged in discussions centered around a designated data point from the updated Equity Profile.

Before breaking for lunch, Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado presented the progress that the University of Nebraska at Omaha has made towards achieving equitable outcomes for their students.

After lunch, attendees anonymously voted on the feasibility of the Equity Task Force’s recommendations to further equity in our region. These recommendations and the feedback towards them will be reviewed by the Heartland 2050 Equity & Engagement Committee.

In the last segment of the event, attendees were divided into groups by focus area: health and wellness, housing and community development, transportation, education, and economic development. Each group provided subject matter expertise to assist Heartland 2050’s Equity & Engagement Committee in identifying partners, first steps, and barriers.

In the coming months, United Way of the Midlands and Heartland 2050 will continue to find ways to work together and shape the path to equity, and Heartland 2050’s Equity & Engagement Committee will continue to advance its efforts to make our region more equitable. The number of attendees shows that there is a desire for equity in our region.

This event would not have been possible without our sponsors:
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
LiveWell Omaha
Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
Omaha Community Foundation
United Way of the Midlands
University of Nebraska Medical Center
University of Nebraska at Omaha
Urban League of Nebraska