82nd (2014)

Luke Christiansen

Luke Christiansen-Recipient
From his early days growing up in Blair, NE until now, Luke finds joy mixing two passions of discovering how things work and making them work well. He believes you should pursue work that matters.

Luke built his foundation in technology and business with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from Creighton University. This mixture sparked his journey down a fun and challenging road. Luke invested the first eight years of his professional career working in IT Operations for Union Pacific Railroad.

Now Luke’s energy is focused on leading a team of innovators building a new technology organization within Union Pacific. He serves as an intrapreneur responsible for commercialization of UP-developed software and technology. Valvora is the brand and www.valvora.com is its home on the web.

Luke is passionate about his work, community and family. He loves challenge that allows him to push beyond his comfort zone. His sources of joy include reading, running, traveling, technology and time at home with his wife and dog.

Luke is thankful for the opportunity to journey alongside a supportive spouse and great teammates pursuing work that matters.

Angela Cooper

Angela Cooper-Recipient
Angela Cooper is the Director of Operations Management for the Benefit Solutions Division at Mutual of Omaha. Angela facilitates strategic planning for the division, and her teams partner with internal process owners to help them lead change and create value.

Angela founded Mutual of Omaha’s first employee resource group, the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN), and served as its first president of the board. She also helped found and lead Mutual’s Women In Leadership (WIL) group. She’s active in the community, sitting on the board for the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition and the steering committees for the Omaha Lean User Group and the Omaha Food Allergy Support Group. She’s been selected to be a member of the Women’s Fund Circles program for young women leaders and also the Leadership Sarpy Class of 2015; her legacy project will focus on advancing diversity and inclusion in Sarpy County.

To contend with her full schedule as an involved working parent of young children, Angela constantly seeks out innovative work-life balance solutions, and will be presenting on the topic at the 2015 Greater Omaha Young Professionals Summit. Angela lives in Papillion with her husband Quinn, son Eli, and daughter Zoe.

Michael R. Feilmeier

Michael R. Feilmeier-Recipient
Michael Feilmeier, M.D. is a board certified ophthalmologist with subspecialty training in laser vision correction (LASIK and PRK), external eye and corneal disease, corneal transplantation including prosthetic (artificial) corneal transplantation and refractive cataract surgery with standard, toric and premium intraocular lenses.

Dr. Feilmeier obtained his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry, graduating with Highest Distinction from Nebraska Wesleyan University. He went on to obtain his medical degree and graduated as a Regent Scholar with highest distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Dr. Feilmeier was then selected for residency training in Ophthalmology at the world-renowned Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami. Bascom Palmer Eye Institute has been ranked the #1 eye hospital and residency training program in the country for the last 11 consecutive years by US News and World Report Magazine. Dr. Feilmeier then went on to complete an additional year of surgical fellowship training in corneal transplant and refractive surgery as well as the prevention of global blindness at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Feilmeier and his wife, Jessica, founded division of Global Blindness Prevention at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2011. As the Medical Director, he continues to pursue his passion to cure needless blindness within the developing world. Dr. Feilmeier has provided eye care and trained eye surgeons in Haiti, India, Nepal, Ghana, Ethiopia and the Dominican Republic. Locally, Dr. Feilmeier provides free health care services to Native Americans in Nebraska through the Ponca Wellness Center. In recognition of his dedication to humanitarian work, Dr. Feilmeier recently received the Young Alumni Achievement Award from Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Dr. Feilmeier currently serves as the President of the Nebraska Academy of Eye Physicians and surgeons and is on the Board of Directors for the Omaha Ophthalmology Network and the Nebraska Lions Eye Bank. He is an active member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons, and is an affiliated ophthalmologist with the Himalayan Cataract Project.

He lives in Elkhorn with his wife, Jessica, and sons, Jacob and Nicholas. He enjoys the outdoors and loves to hunt pheasant and catch trout in his free time.

Joanne (Joey) Gaines

Joanne (Joey) Gaines-Recipient
Joanne (Joey) Gaines is the owner and veterinarian at Ridgeview Animal Hospital, which she opened in 2001. In 2008, she opened Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic and remains a partner there. Joey is a graduate of Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine. She has served on the local veterinary board, Nebraska Academy of Veterinary Medicine, including president. She is currently the district director for the state veterinary association, NVMA. She is active in the Junior League of Omaha as the chair of Done In A Day. This project organizes volunteer shifts for members to participate in community agencies throughout Omaha and surrounding areas. She was very involved in A Book of My Own, including chair, through Junior League in the past three years. This project distributed over 20,000 books to at-risk kids in the Omaha area. She and her husband, Adam, are foster parents for the state of Nebraska. They have adopted three of the children they have had as foster placements. They continue to receive foster placements through Boys Town. Joey is the alumni advisor for philanthropy for the Creighton Delta Delta Delta chapter. She is a previous Midland’s Business Journal 40 Under 40 award winner.

Angela Kros Cutler

Angela Kros Cutler-Recipient
Angela Kros Cutler is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Communications. She currently
serves as the director of Development for Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Foundation.

Angela is a member of the Junior League of Omaha since 2010, serving two years as volunteer coordinator for Project Hope Pack and currently serving as vice-chair for the league’s Mentorship program and serves on the JLO Board of Directors. She is Vice-President of Development for the Women’s Center for Advancement Guild, a board member for the New Cassel Retirement Center and also mentors a student at Skutt High. Last spring, Angela was a guardian for the Nebraska Korean War Honor Flight, which was the largest honor flight in history.

She enjoys cooking meals for the Children’s Hospital and Medical Center’s Rainbow House as well as spending time with her husband Bill, and their family and friends.
Angela is passionate about the causes she represents and truly feels honored to be among Omaha’s past and current TOYO award recipients. Angela believes that if everyone takes time to share their blessings with others by plugging into Omaha’s worthwhile causes you have an opportunity to make a big impact.

Brandon Mason

randon Mason-Recipient
Brandon is an Assistant Vice President and Credit Products Officer for Bank of the West’s Corporate Banking Group Agribusiness Division. He works
with Relationship Managers to ensure proper underwriting, structuring, and monitoring of direct and syndicated loan portfolios.

Brandon earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration majoring in Finance in 2005 from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He earned his Master of Business Administration also from Creighton University in 2008. In addition, to maintaining a Credit Risk Certified Designation from the Risk Management Association, Brandon is the First Vice President of the Risk Management Association’s Midlands Chapter. He also serves a treasurer of the Father Flanagan Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and on the Nebraska State Advisory Council for the Future Business Leaders of America. Brandon is a member of the Association for Corporate Growth Nebraska, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Council, Omaha Agribusiness Club, Knights of Columbus St. Wenceslaus Council 10909, and is a Nebraska LEAD Fellowship recipient. In his free time, Brandon operates a commercial cow-calf operation with his father-in-law in Blair, Nebraska. Brandon and his wife, Jill, are members of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church and reside in Omaha, Nebraska with their English Bulldog, Maximus.

John A. Menicucci, Jr.

John Menicucci Jr. Recipient
John A. Menicucci, Jr. is an experienced transactional lawyer in the Omaha office of Husch Blackwell LLP. His practice focuses on advising business clients small and large, public and private, in formation and structure, raising capital, operations, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. John is President-Elect of the Omaha Bar Association (OBA), currently Co-Chair of the OBA Law Day Committee and Chair of its Lawyers in the Classroom Program. John is also a Board member of the Bennington Community Foundation, graduate of Leadership Omaha (Class 36), an Adjunct Professor at Creighton School of Law, member of the Advisory Committee of Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals and member of the Rotary Club of West Omaha.

Prior to beginning his law career John served as a U.S. Army Officer including assignments as a tank platoon leader, a mortar platoon leader and a company commander. Thereafter he worked as a Unit Leader and branch manager at Nestle Waters North America and as a Lean and Six Sigma leader at GE Healthcare. John holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctor from Creighton University School of Law. John and his wife Betsy are parents to Sadie, Teagan, Jack and Kinsley.

Ferial Pearson

Ferial Pearson-Recipient

Ferial Pearson was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She is the oldest of four girls and the first in her immediate family to go to college. After graduating from PeponiSchool in 1997, she left Africa to attend Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in 2001 in Communication Arts Literature Teaching, and where she met her husband, Daniel. She was offered the opportunity to teach in Omaha at Omaha South High School, where she taught English and Reading for ten years. During her time there, she also served as the Gay Straight Alliance and Unity Club sponsor, and received national awards for her work with students and in the community. These included the National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights in 2012, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network’s Educator of the Year Respect Award in 2011, and she was the Nebraska representative and finalist for the National Council of Teachers of English Academic Freedom Award in 2012. Locally, she has been awarded the 2011 Omaha Education Association’s Human Relations Award, the 2012 Promising Professional Award from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and RESPECT’s 2011 Anti-Bullying Award. She also earned her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a Graduate Certificate in Urban Instruction from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Ferial left Omaha South High School to work as a Talent Advisor for the Avenue Scholars Foundation and taught for them at Ralston High School for two
years until 2013, during which time she created the Secret Kindness Agents project and subsequently wrote the book The Secret Kindness Agents: How Small Acts of Kindness Really Can Change The World. She and the students decided to donate all proceeds from the book to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She now works as an Instructor and Instructional Coach at the University of Nebraska at
Omaha in the Teacher Education Department. She lives in Ralston, Nebraska with her husband Daniel, son Ilahi, and daughter Iman. They perform random acts of kindness every day.

Patrick Ricketts

Patrick Ricketts-Recipient
Pat Ricketts, CFP® is President and CFO of Vintage Financial Group. He develops unique plans for business owners, executives and families using
proactive, high level solutions. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 his firm Vintage Financial Group was recognized as one of Omaha’s Top Wealth Advisors and an Exemplary Wealth Advisor by NABCAP, a national non-profit dedicated to identifying top advisors. In 2014 Vintage was “Best of Omaha” winner for Financial Planning.

Pat leads his team in meaningful involvement in our community. Vintage sponsors many events throughout the Omaha Community including the Methodist College Foundation, Keep Kids Alive Drive 25, Creighton Women’s Athletics, Millard Public Schools Foundation, Humane Society, Food Bank of the Heartland, Millard Public Schools Paybac Partner, Ruth’s Run and Omaha Heart Hero’s.

In his community, Pat has served on the Millard Public Schools Board for four years and is currently the President of the Board, which is the third largest district in the state and has over 2,880 employees and 23,000 students. Pat has received the “Expanding Horizon Award” for his work with Millard Public Schools.

Pat is involved with the UNL Athletics department, serving on the N-Club Board and was also nominated to the 2011 class of “40 under 40”.

Lina Traslavina Stover

Lina Traslavina Stover-Recipient
Lina Traslaviña Stover is a Sociology PhD Candidate at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her sociological research interests lie in the specialization areas of Race and Ethnicity, Immigration, Education, Urban Sociology and Stratification. Lina is committed to systematically increase access to higher education for underrepresented populations. For example, her dissertation explores “How Latino students maneuver through the 4-year College admissions and retention systems.” Lina currently works as the Assistant Director for the office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Lina is actively involved in the community. She serves as the co-chair for the Latino Academic Achievement Council, a voluntary organization that aims at increasing academic achievement of Latino Students attending Omaha Public Schools. She is also the president of GirlFRIENDS Guild, which supports Girls Inc. of Omaha in its efforts to inspire girls to be strong, smart and bold, through fundraising, friendraising, and advocacy. Lina speaks around the nation to both large and small audiences, inspiring students and parents to use education to overcome personal struggles. Lina serves in the Omaha Collaborating for Equity Steering committee; she is a member of Nebraska Association of Collegiate Registrar and Admissions Officers, the Great Plains Association for College Admissions Counseling, the Midwest Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association.