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Shining a Light on Leadership

April 12, 2021
By Roz Parr

Seven of Omaha’s community leaders Zoomed in for our final installment of Kaleidoscope 2021. For our second Leadership Symposium, our virtual visitors spoke with the sophomores and seniors about their personal leadership styles.

We are so grateful to our visitors for joining us!

Rachel Fox is the founder and Executive Director of You Go Girl Omaha.  In addition to owning Catapult Consulting Solutions, Rachel serves as a freelance instructor at the Metro Community College of Omaha, where she facilitates coding clubs and courses.  She is also the president of Fox Flooring, a local flooring and remodeling company which she co-operates with her husband Brent.

In 2018, she founded You Go Girl, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of self-doubt and low self-esteem in young women and girls by creating a vision for who they can be.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies from the University of Nebraska Omaha and is pursuing a master’s in Leadership at Oral Roberts University.

In 2019, she was named the Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professionals Changemaker, was a 2020 TOYO Recipient, and received the Leadership Award from the Leadership Africa Summit in 2019.  She was also a top finalist for the Mrs. Nebraska pageant in 2019 and 2020.

Theresa Franco ’74, Vice President of Operations at Nebraska Medicine, is a member of Mercy’s Board and is the first-ever recipient of the Distinguished Woman of Mercy Alumna Award.

Her work responsibilities include inpatient operations of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, Pharmacy, Radiology, Interventional Radiology, radiation therapy and cancer ambulatory operations.

Franco, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, received a Nursing degree from Creighton University and a master’s degree from the University of Texas in Austin. Upon her return to Omaha, the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) hired her to work in Cancer Care Services, where she would later become its executive director. Under her leadership, the small bone marrow transplant program grew to become the Lied Transplant Center. She would later serve as vice president of Cancer Services and Radiology at Nebraska Medicine.

She has published, presented nationally and internationally on a variety of cancer program topics, and has served on several advisory boards to improve cancer care delivery. A member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Best Practices Committee since its inception and Franco also serves on its board.

She has received numerous awards including the Creighton University School of Nursing Alumni Merit Award, Leadership Development Award, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Carol M. Wilson Award for Quality in Nursing, and “Caring Kind Employee of the Year,” Nebraska Hospital Association.

Leah Georges, Ph.D., M.L.S., is an Assistant Professor in Creighton University’s Doctoral Program in Interdisciplinary Leadership.

As a member of the Association of Leadership Educators, Leah advises students and leadership educators in teaching and advising best practices, leadership theory and policy reform.  She conducts research and presents to local and national audiences in the areas of millennial leadership and generations at work, the power of effective followership, and emotional and legal decision making. 

As a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 38, Leah is also actively involved in the Omaha community through several nonprofit organizations. She serves as President of the Nebraska Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to improving the criminal justice system through education and reform.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Creighton University, a Master of Legal Studies degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law, and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Colette O’Meara McKinney, Ed.D. is Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Creighton’s School of Dentistry. Prior to her current role, she served as Associate Vice President in the Office of the President and within the Division of Technology at the university. Her career has spanned roles in journalism, video production, academic technology and strategic planning. She served as an adjunct instructor teaching both educational technology and ethics at Creighton for over 10 years.

O’Meara-McKinney earned her bachelor’s in Mass Communications from the University of South Dakota in 1989 and a master’s in Educational Technology from the University of Missouri in 2003.  She completed her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies in May of 2020. She is also a recipient of the Mary Lucretia and Sarah Emily Creighton Award and was co-chair for the Opus Prize, which was sponsored by Creighton in 2016.

Carolina Padilla, Executive Director of the Intercultural Senior Center, has been with that organization for more than 11 years. In that capacity, she is responsible for the overall operation of the Center which helps immigrants through networking, social activities, health and wellness support and much more.

She graduated from the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala with a degree in Science Communications.

Katty Petak, M.A., is the Senior Director of Alumnae Relations at College of Saint Mary (CSM) where she has worked since 2001. Prior to her current role, Mrs. Petak served as Director of Student Leadership & Organizations (2001-2003), Assistant Dean of Students (2003-2015) and Associate Dean of Students (20015-2020). She is also a Mercy parent.

Some of Mrs. Petak’s contributions to college include:  Serving on the CSM task force that recommended the Common Reading and developed the Statement of Open Discourse, helping develop  CSM’s retention efforts focused on Latina students and the establishment of the annual Latina Summer Academy for area high school youth, strengthening the college’s  multicultural programming emphasis and facilitating the establishment of several culturally-based student organizations, and developing two of the signature leadership programs at CSM, “Leadership Launch” for first and second year students and “Step It Up” for upper-class students. She is currently establishing an alumnae mentoring program where current CSM senior students will be paired with an alumna of the university.

In addition to her work at CSM, Mrs. Petak has been involved with Heartland Latino Leadership Scholarship Committee, the Multicultural Coalition, the Barrientos Scholarship Foundation, the Conference for Inclusive Communities and she served as President of the Nebraska Women in Higher Education Leadership organization. Recently Ms. Petak served on the planning committee for “El Camino Latino Virtual Conference” for high school seniors.

A native of Chile, Petak moved to Nebraska as an exchange student during her senior year of high school. While attending University of Nebraska at Kearney for her undergraduate degrees in Teaching, Translation and Interpretation, she became very active in campus life. She received a master’s in Higher Education and Administration from Michigan State University and was the director of three residence halls at the University of Arizona before moving back to Nebraska.

Ellie Rohr ‘04 is the Senior investigator in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at Creighton University. She has been with Creighton since 2019. Before coming to Creighton, Ellie served as one of the first Associate Public Guardians for Nebraska’s new Office of Public Guardian and worked with the Nebraska Public Service Commission.  

Ellie received bachelor’s degrees in Secondary Education and Speech Communications from the University of Nebraska Omaha. She coached Speech and taught at Mercy before returning to graduate school. Ellie received a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2014.