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Living Library

Living Library Catalog

Bonnie Dollen | Mother of Disabled Children

Bonnie is the mother of three boys with Fragile X syndrome. Overall, Bonnie wants to improve the care of disabled persons and educate people who are helping them.

Margaret Elmore | Domestic Abuse Survivor (UNAVAILABLE)
Pronouns: she, they

In 2017, Margaret started what she thought was a whirlwind romance that she later realized was a cycle of abuse. For years Margaret told themself that she was the problem because that’s what he made them believe and each time she reached out for help no one would respond. Eventually, Margaret found themself away from him for months on end due to his deployment and felt relief realizing that it wasn’t them. This was a lightbulb moment; she found their own power by realizing she can survive on their own and take care of their bills and child. Margaret didn’t need him. 

Leontyne Evans | Survivor (UNAVAILABLE)
Pronouns: she, her, hers

After years of abuse, which led to a pattern of unhealthy relationships, Leontyne discovered the power of healing through therapy. Now that she has discovered the other side of trauma, Leontyne has devoted her life to helping others discover this freedom.

Anna Ferguson | Foster Care
Pronouns: she, her, hers

When Anna was 11 years old, she was taken away from the only world she knew and dropped in the middle of a stranger’s home as a foster child. She spent the next 7 years of her life with different families, where she endured neglect, emotional and verbal abuse. Through her connections with friends, teachers, and youth ministers, Anna successfully went and completed college. Through her experience and knowledge, Anna now works as an In-home Family Coach to keep families together.

Ja Keen Fox | Racial Justice Activist
Pronouns: he, him, his

Following the 2020 murders of George Floyd and James Scurlock, Ja Keen led a 36 day demonstration in west Omaha to object to the Douglas County Attorney not pressing charges against the now-indicted Jake Gardner in the murder of James Scurlock.  Thousands of Omaha residents participated in this demonstration, which put a spotlight on the racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Naomi Hattaway | Ex-Pat (Available via Zoom)
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Born and raised in rural, conservative Nebraska Naomi then moved to India and Singapore where she learned to thrive in the midst of chaos. Throughout her life she had the opportunity to learn and interact with different religions, cultures, and community systems. This has uniquely positioned Naomi to bring the power of nuance and diverse perspectives to her work in bringing affordable housing and eradicating homelessness to her Omaha community.

Candias Jones | Birth Mother
Pronouns: she, her, hers

As a result of sexual trauma, Candias gave birth to a child at the age of 13. She placed her daughter up for adoption and met her daughter a few years ago. While Candias has kept this story close to her heart until now, she and her daughter are ready to share their story.   

Krysta Larson | Asexual
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Throughout Krysta’s teen years, she never had the desire to date or even kiss anyone. After starting college, she became involved in the LGBTQIA+ community and discovered the term asexual. For the first time, she understood what was different about her, and connected with people who felt the same way. Putting a name to her feelings was both relieving and terrifying. Now, Krysta wants to raise awareness of the asexual community and how it fits within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

Frank Pietrantoni | Stroke Survivor
Pronouns: he, him, his

Frank had a stroke at the age of 6, leaving him completely paralyzed on his left side. He felt sorry for himself until at school he met Jeff Butler, a boy who had no arms or legs but was full of positivity and confidence. At that moment, Frank’s life was transformed. His story is one of perseverance, humility, courage, frustration, gratitude, and more.

Todd Robinson | Recovering Addict
Pronouns: he, him, his

From his early 30s into his 40s, Todd drank regularly and steadily increased his drug use while earning his PhD. He thought this was simply a lifestyle choice but after one fateful ER trip and a hospital stay, Todd no longer uses alcohol or drugs. Through AA and a strong support network, Todd has experienced several personal successes, including remaining sober during the COVD-19 pandemic.

Lisa Schulze | Sex Educator
Pronouns: she, her, hers

As an HIV peer educator in high school in the 90’s, Lisa was reminded daily of the culture of shame and silence that surrounds adolescent sexuality and the need for caring adults who aren’t afraid to talk about sex, bodies, and boundaries. After twenty years in the field, Lisa knows sex educators are still fighting a strong culture of shame, stigma, and misinformation on sexual health and identities. Lisa hopes to normalize conversations around sexual health, especially for young people.

Zachary Smith | Ex-Fundamentalist
Pronouns: he, him, his

Zachary was raised in the Ozark Mountains by Fundamentalist Evangelic Christian parents, home-schooled and socially isolated for religious reasons. After becoming the first person in his family to graduate college, he began to navigate de-conversion from Christianity.  After moving, marrying, and converting to Judaism, Zachary has found some family connections stronger, and others withered. Through Zachary’s journey, he has a new and expanded understanding of ‘family’ and an appreciation for change and difficult decisions.

Nature Medicine Song Villegas | Rape Culture Activist

In 2021 Nature gave a speech at the Women’s March in Lincoln and had her daughter ask all those who had ever felt unsafe to raise their hand, Nature was shocked by the number of hands that went up. At that point, Nature started addressing rape culture more openly and using her art and creativity to bring her community together to have uncomfortable conversations about rape culture. These conversations have included girls as young as ten defining themselves and others through the effects of rape culture. What does “asking for it” actually look like?

Jason Witmer | Prison Reform Advocate

Jason witnessed his mother’s murder at age four. Afterward, he and his brothers lived with family until being placed in the foster system. By the age of 23, Jason was beginning his second stint in prison. After his incarceration, Jason invested his free time in the community and pioneered the Free Earnest Jackson movement.    

Abi Adegboye / Domestic Violence Survivor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

In 1990, Abi came to the United States for school. She did not come to the US with a husband, but met a man here and got married. After her husband began to abuse her, she had to make the tough decision to stay with her husband or strike out on her own. Within her faith and culture this was a taboo situation. She wants to reach other to people who may be in a similar situation, and show them that there is a way out, even if it doesn’t seem that way.

Medicine Flower Blue Star / Marine Corps Veteran and Military Sexual Assault Survivor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Medicine Flower Blue Star is a Marine Corps Veteran and a survivor of military sexual assault. One of the times she was assaulted resulted in the birth of her daughter. Flower has worked hard in the years since her military service making her and her daughter’s lives better.

Adam Byers / Trans Man
Pronouns: he, him, his

When he was a little kid, Adam Byers says, “I wanted to be Aladdin,” but it wasn’t until two years ago he realized he is trans. As a trans man, he wants to challenge the notions that trans people know they're trans from an early age and all trans masculine people present as masculine 100% of the time. His coming out story is unique, and he wants people to understand that gender is not just about your looks or assigned gender.

Wayne Brekke / Entrepreneur
Pronouns: he, him, his

Wayne has been able to turn his hobby, table top gaming, into a lucrative business idea. His business Dungeon Crate is a subscription box for table top gaming (similar to Loot Crate). He wants to show people that while working for yourself is hard, there are great things that come from it.

Anna Di Ruocco and Leo / Chronic and Invisible Illnesses Advocate and Service Dog Handler
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Anna was matched with her service dog Leo in 2014 after months of research, fundraising and training. While Leo and Anna have grown and learned together, Anna knows most people don’t understand what it really means to have a service dog. Anna and Leo have been using their situation to teach others about service dogs and chronic and invisible illnesses.

Tracy Gilman / Eating Disorder Survivor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Tracy was forced to examine the pervasive fatphobia that exists in our society while recovering from an eating disorder. She wants people to know that their size, shape, color, gender, and more don’t determine their value. She focuses her work around reducing weight stigma, advocating for fat acceptance, and understanding the intersections that impact body image and self-worth.

Maureen Grace / Organ Donation Advocate
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Jude Timothy Grace received the gift of a double lung transplant on March 6, 2016. Jude’s mom, Maureen, became an Angel Mom a year and a half later, and feels lucky for every moment she got with Jude. She is a fierce advocate for organ donation—especially pediatric donation.

Gus Gustafson / Amputee and College Basketball Player
Pronouns: he, him, his

As a child, Gus lost his right arm in a farming accident. While he did not set out to be a motivational speaker, that is where he found his passion.  Now, he spends his time teaching people how to “Turn Setbacks Into Comebacks”. He is truly “Fully Armed”. 

Wendy Hamilton, Becky Scherbring, and Moppy / Disability Rights Activists
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Wendy and Becky’s mother, Moppy, was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at 58 years old in 2007. While autism spectrum disorders aren’t entirely uncommon, adult diagnosis is less common. In fact, the perspective of neuro-typical children and their autistic parent is still incredibly unique. Wendy, Becky, and Moppy are spreading their story with humor, love, and taking things day by day. 

Olivia Johnson / Body Positivity Activist
Pronouns: she, her, hers

As someone who identifies as a woman of size and color, Olivia has not always been comfortable with who she is. Five years ago, she had a moment where she looked at herself in the mirror and decided to be comfortable in her own skin. She wants to share her multi-tiered experiences and show people that no matter what shade or size they are everyone deserves respect.

Jerome Kenkel / Crisis Text Line Volunteer
Pronouns: he, him, his

As a volunteer with Crisis Text line, Jerome has helped many people in crisis guiding them “from a hot moment to a cool calm” as he was trained.  As an Event DJ of many years, he has guided the celebrations for the most important days of people’s lives. Jerome has centered his life on helping others feel important while rebuilding from life’s low moments and celebrating life’s high moments.

Judy Kiagiri / Kenyan Immigrant
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Judy moved to the United States from Kenya as a young, single mother in order to go to college. During college, she got an internship opportunity that changed the trajectory of her life. While her journey has not been an easy one, she works tirelessly to show her children and community what immigrants have to offer.

Adriana Montano / Latin American Refugee (UNAVAILABLE)
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Adriana came from Colombia to seek political asylum. As a woman, person of color and immigrant, she, and her family, have had many obstacles to overcome. With her experience and first-hand knowledge, she wants to bring awareness to the many reasons one might seek refuge in America.

Kim Palmquist / Domestic Violence Survivor and Marine Corps Veteran
Pronouns: he, him, his

Kim’s story is one of working through trauma to strength, resiliency, and opportunity. Kim experienced abuse and trauma as a child. He dealt with this trauma while active in the Marine Corps. Hear how Kim’s journey allowed him to forge a path towards advocacy for others as he now works to stop human trafficking. 

Doug Paterson / Political Activist
Pronouns: he, him, his

Raised in a conservative small town, Doug was in college when the Vietnam War broke out in 1965. His experience of dealing with being a graduate student during a time of war and the draft changed helped form his views and political alignment. A political protest at Cornell University in 1972 forced Doug to decide where he stood, politically and morally.

Carissa Stowe / Caregiver
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Carissa’s mother and nephew have been affected by leukemia. Carissa wants people to understand how leukemia is different than other cancers and not at all what is portrayed in media. Educating people on leukemia and having an open dialogue about the feelings that cancer brings is one way Carissa honors her nephew’s life and mother’s fight.

Amber Barcel / Adoptee
Korean, adoptee
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Amber was adopted from Suwon, South Korea, joining her family in Bellwood, NE when she was three months old. In adulthood, she went on a journey of self-discovery here in Omaha and in South Korea. In the process she has learned more about what it means to her to be an adoptee and an Asian-American woman living in Omaha. Amber tells her story so others can learn about what it’s like to be adopted, and what it’s like to go back.

Randy Beagley / Ex-FLDS Member
Resourceful, helpful, questioner
Pronouns: he, him, his

Randy found out that his family was part of the largest fundamentalist polygamist religion in North America (FLDS) when he was nine years old. Curiosity and independent thinking were never encouraged within the religion. Randy embraced these qualities while growing up, though, which enabled him to escape and help others leave as well. Randy shares his story because he knows that many people might possess hidden stories like him, and sometimes those people might need a helping hand.

Kat Clyde / Air Force Veteran
Woman, veteran, survivor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

A ten-year veteran of the Air Force, Kat was sexually assaulted while she was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska. She is sharing her stories of sexism and sexual assault in the military because, frankly, her story is not unique. Kat’s story, like many others, is of a woman veteran with PTSD from a trauma suffered not on the battlefield of war, but at her home station.

Anna DiRuocco & Leo / Service Dog Handler
Brave, courageous, inspirational
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Anna was matched with her service dog Leo in 2014 after months of research, fundraising and training. While Leo and Anna have grown and learned together, Anna knows most people don’t understand what it really means to have a service dog. Anna and Leo have been using their situation to teach others about service dogs and chronic illnesses.

Wendy Hamilton / Disability Rights Activist
Acceptance, awareness, Moppy
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Wendy’s mother was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at 58 years old in 2007. While autism spectrum disorders aren’t entirely uncommon, adult diagnosis is less common. In fact, the perspective of a neuro-typical child and autistic parent is still incredibly unique. Wendy and Moppy are spreading their story with humor, love, and taking things day by day.  

Peggy Jones / Artist and scholar
Passionate, curious, artist
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Peggy grew up in an almost-rural environment near Omaha and is currently a professor and administrator at UNO. Peggy mentors others in leadership in and out of the classroom and is proud to coach for the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Her most recent play, Centering the Margins, was presented at the Union for Contemporary Art as a part of the 365 Women a Year project. Peggy wants to create relationships at the Human Library to talk about her paradoxical and intersectional life as a Black creative woman in majority White environments, and what it means to be a Black artist, playwright, and academic in the Midwest.

Miles Jordan / Self-Titled
Unique, resilient, empowered
Pronouns: they, their, theirs

After being adopted internationally into a world where nobody looked like them or spoke the language they knew, Miles realized from a young age that “fitting in” would never come easy. Labeled as black, multi-ethnic, depressed, transgender, and queer, Miles learned to be proud of who they are and to create their own definitions for these words. This is the story of someone who has overcome many struggles by remembering that it doesn’t matter what others call us, only what we answer to.

Wendy Kaiser / Bereaved Parent
Resiliency, hope, survivor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Wendy experienced the death of her child when she was a young parent. Wendy is stepping forward now to share her experiences as a young mother coping with grief and as a person with mental illness. Most importantly, she wants to share that there can be and will be beautiful moments of joy, appreciation, happiness, and light in the midst of some of the darkest times in life.

Cindy Krafka / Native American Artist
Resilient, traditional, respectful
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Cindy is a member of the Sicangu Lakota tribe, a talented bead artist, and the Native American Outreach Coordinator at UNO. Cindy grew up urban and spent her summers finding her culture and spirituality on the Rosebud Reservation just north of the Nebraska border. She is motivated to share her stories to dispel stereotypical notions of Native culture and wants others to understand that Native American people are educated, creative, and far more complex than the stereotypes presented in movies, TV, and online today.

Dominique Morgan / Advocate
Unexpected, magical, still being written
Pronouns: he, him, his

Dominique came out at 14, was homeless at 17, was incarcerated from 19-27, and became a college graduate and the director of a national nonprofit at 34. Dominique has taken every opportunity in his life to become successful even within a system that so often sets people up for failure. Because of the “perfect storm and magic” he encountered, and his hard work, he’s able to help black, queer youths and incarcerated LGBTQ individuals.

Charlie Rabideaux / Educator
Queer, nonbinary, teacher
Pronouns: They, their, theirs

Charlie is a teacher at an alternative high school and a foster parent. Charlie is also queer, nonbinary, a member of the Minnesota Fond-du-Lac Band of Chippewa, and much more. Charlie is passionate about being an advocate for kids and helping others through education. Charlie shares their story to encourage an ongoing dialogue in support of queer and nonbinary visibility in public education.

Eli Rigatuso / Two-spirit Transman
Compassionate, empathetic, persevering
Pronouns: he, him, his

Eli has been coming out in layers throughout his life. Three years ago, at the age of 49, Eli came out as transgender. Born and raised in Omaha, he has always been an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Eli wants trans youth, especially, to know it’s okay for people to choose to be who they are at any time in their lives. He invites others to hear his story and find out what it’s like to face unique challenges in a binary world.

Ashlei Spivey / Activist
Tragic, revolutionary, evolving
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Ashlei spoke in front of thousands at the last Women’s March and works to support organizations to create social change. She creates spaces and connections, like the Young Black & Influential Awards, to create more diverse and equitable landscapes for people and organizations in Omaha. In helping to facilitate these connections and uplift communities of color, Ashlei hopes to show that there isn’t one single definition of leadership and success for people of color.

Jenna Yentes / Scientist
Non-linear, perseverant, energetic
Pronouns: she, her, hers

Going from being a first-generation college student to a PhD, Jenna’s life has been anything but linear. From community college, massage therapy school, to a university in Colorado, and countless jobs, there wasn’t one single path she took. Now Jenna is a woman in a STEM field, which has its own set of challenges and rewards. Most people think about life as linear with a plan, and Jenna has proven with perseverance and flexibility, a non-linear life can take you places you’d never imagine.

Auditing Enron: The Company That Stole My 401K by Shari Thompson (UNAVAILABLE)

Shari worked as an internal auditor for Enron and several of its subsidiaries from the 1980's through Enron's bankruptcy in 2001. She saw and reported internal control weaknesses to management and the board of directors. Her reports, however, were ignored. This book describes some of the most egregious control weaknesses Shari encountered while working in Internal Audit at Enron's Omaha and Houston offices.

After Enron, Shari developed an internal audit department at a local company—a winner of "best place to work" for several years in the 2000's. Unfortunately, a new board of directors' desire for greater profits while—like Enron—ignoring internal control weaknesses set the company on a path to sink into bankruptcy in 2010.

Breathing Out: A Love Story (Tales of Getting Shit Done While Hugging the World) by Niki Jordan 

Growing up a second generation blond-haired, blue-eyed Nichiren Buddhist in Omaha, Nikola Halcyone Jordan was raised to handle the stresses of being ostracized by both schoolmates and family through her faith, and to fight for the rights of all. She found relief from years of depression and anxiety through a dedicated yoga practice. Nikola's newest challenge, after being diagnosed with a painful medical condition, is continuing her work in social justice advocacy while on wheels.

Electric Girl by Stacy Cook (UNAVAIBLE)

The story of a young mom who turned to drugs after battling postpartum depression and manic depression, aka bipolar disorder. Running out of options to control her mental illness she turned to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) and turned her life around. Now sober, stable and even happy she is here to tell the story of how mental illness changed her life.

Foul Ball by Brent Crampton 

On May Day, 2011, a father attending a baseball game in downtown Omaha caught a foul ball. This catch prompted a phone call to his son. The phone call would connect the dots of the son’s adoption in 1984 to the opening of a nightclub, House of Loom, that would go on to change the cultural landscape of Omaha. This is the story of finding place and purpose in a seemingly random world, showing that even foul balls can fall in line. 

Growing Up Transgender by Brooke McGrorty

I am a 29 year old transwoman. I grew up in a very small farm town 45 minutes south of Omaha. Growing up was a very confusing time because I was always teased. I always knew that I wanted to be a girl, and viewed myself as a woman but I had no idea that Transgender was who I was. When I was 16 my mom took me to my first encounter with the LGBT community. I saw my first drag queen perform that day and my eyes lit up Afterwards, I applied and got accepted to perform. When I performed I never felt more alive and comfortable in my own skin. I moved to Omaha when I was 22 and became more involved in the LGBT community, and dressing like a woman at night. When I was 26, I started working as a server; Brooke.

Know Your Farmer by Brent Lubbert

Suburban kid experiences a three month road trip documenting urban agriculturalists. Transformed with passion, he comes back home and helps start an urban farm that has turned into a Farmer Residency educational nonprofit. Time to grow some food and relationships.

Just Say Yes by Kenny Oyer

As a musician and teacher, I’ve spent a lifetime saying yes. My story is about connections, positive affirmations, new experiences. I said yes to a U.S. State Department cultural exchange tour in the 60s that brought me to Soviet Union, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Romania, and Poland. Yes to service in the Air Force and yes to teaching in elementary schools and working with libraries. I’ve continued teaching, learning, and making music into my 70s. Let’s make a connection and talk about music, travel, teaching, learning, and saying yes.

A Life of Many Colors by Denise Morton

I’ve been a factory worker, legal assistant, correctional officer, and now I’m Library Director for a correctional center library. My life has had several ups and downs, several slips and slides, and I am grateful for each event. I overcame codependency, was blessed with a daughter, and found the courage later in life to accept that I am gay. I have learned to deeply, deeply appreciate the day I am in, and often times, just the moment. This story could be about the everyday challenges of building and maintaining a library in a correctional center, but deep down it’s about the more difficult challenge of "paying forward" ALL of the many kindnesses from family, friends and strangers during the toughest of times in one colorful life.

A “Lost Boy” Who Found His Way by Randy Beagley

I was born in a small town on the southern border of Utah and Arizona.  From the time I can remember, I was just a normal kid with strange parents.  When I was ten years old, my father decided to take me for a car ride.  We drove for an hour to a home just south of Salt Lake City.  As I walked in with my dad, he started to introduce me to all of these people.  I was thinking this is strange and even stranger is a boy almost my same age who looks just like me.  I was talking to him when I saw a picture of my dad on the wall, and I said, "That's my dad!" and the boy said "No, that is my dad!"  After a small fight, we realized our dad had two wives, and I now had a very large family of 29.  That is when I began to learn I was born into the largest polygamist religion in North America.

Made in Canada by Michele Desmarais, Bill Arab, Jane Franklin, Jessica Urban, Lynette Leeseberg Stamler

What do a Métis poet/Sanskritist, a musician, the Dean of Social Sciences (MCC), a restaurateur (Block 16!!), and the Associate Dean of Academic Programs at UNMC’s College of Nursing all have in common?  Being Canadian!  Our stories explore Canadian culture, including what brought us to Omaha and how we maintain our sense of Canadian identity/identities here. We’ll talk about food, literature, multiculturalism, music, hockey, our prolific use of “eh,” toques, Stompin’ Tom, Louis Riel, Frederick Banting, the Tragically Hip, Justin Trudeau, how to pronounce ‘Saskatchewan,’ and so much more.  The loud and proud Canadians are in the library.  Join us, eh!

Making Things Better When It Seems They Couldn’t Get Worse by Brian Maass

My wife died by suicide 10 years ago, making me a solo parent to 3-year old and 18-month old sons. To properly care for my sons, I left a successful career that required me to travel (and took a 90% pay cut). To properly care for myself, I co-founded a local young widows and widowers group that grew to over 150 members, and I went back to school to pursue my dream career. 

Modern Politics: How Things Really Work by Eric Aspengren

I've got 12 years of campaigns, lobbying and other work behind me, plus a serious knowledge of the political science literature. I think I'm well qualified to explain these things. In fact, I'm writing a book! My father told me to, so I have to. I'd really like to help explain modern politics and dispel some myths.

One Plus One Equals One by Carol Mitchell

Identical twins born, raised, and shared absolutely everything while living the double whammy of being "colored" and "girls" and then the sum is no longer TWO but ONE! I'll share my experiences – some funny, some sad, many unforgettable -- of one sister who became a science researcher, writer, international speaker, and educator, and another who became a mathematician, financial planner, preacher, teacher, and the third female Bishop elected in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. One Plus One Equals ONE!

Putting the Heart in Heartland: Omaha Restaurateur Follows His Passion by Paul Kulik

Paul Kulik, born in Berlin but raised in Omaha, began working in kitchens at the age of 15.  While he would later earn degrees in Engineering Physics and French, he knew his true love lay in the creative and fast-paced culinary world.  Now a successful entrepreneur with several successful Omaha restaurants, Paul is dedicated to using the best ingredients to create memorable dishes, as well as giving back to the community he loves. 

Warrior Woman: Know One. Be One by Sakura L Yodogawa-Campbell (UNAVAILABLE)

I am a trauma survivor (child sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, sex trafficking, stalking, strangulation) and I speak out about my healing and recovery experience in hopes of preventing others from knowing this experience, connect with other survivors and ensure offenders are held accountable for these crimes. I use my voice to change a culture that accepts violence against women and children. I teach women about healing and recovery and help them discover their own flame within to light their path. And I work to bring women together to do some major ass kicking.

 

A Series of Small Humiliations by Anna Pulley

This is the story of a half-deaf, half-white queer gal who was once a hot dog slinger, shoe salesman, PE teacher, and a waitress at a retirement home before she figured out the best way to degrade herself was as a writer. When she's not writing advice columns or trying to convince straight, unavailable women to fall in love with her via limericks, she is attempting to lead a haiku revival with her first book The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats)!

Auditing Enron: The Company That Stole My 401K by Shari Thompson 

Shari worked as an internal auditor for Enron and several of its subsidiaries from the 80’s and throughout Enron’s bankruptcy in 2001. She saw and reported internal control weaknesses to management and—in cases of flagrant control overrides—to the board of directors. However, as this was pre-Sarbanes Oxley (since Enron caused the act of Congress that is Sarbanes Oxley), her reports of weaknesses were disregarded. This book recounts some of the most egregious control weaknesses that Shari encountered while conducting internal audits at the Omaha and Houston offices of Enron Corp. Post-Enron, Shari work to build the internal audit department at a local company that had won best place to work for several years in the mid-2000’s. A sea change in the make-up of the company’s board of directors, however, resulted in senior leaders who—like Enron—had no regard for internal controls nor fiduciary responsibility. And like Enron, the board and senior leaders ignored warnings of weak controls and cavalierly allowed the company to sink into bankruptcy in 2010.

Blurring the Boxes: Gender and Academia by Jay Irwin 

 While attending graduate school for a PhD in Medical Sociology, Jay Irwin transitioned from female to male. This is the story of someone moving between gender categories while trying to navigate through the hurdles of higher education, eventually finishing a PhD, and moving across the country with a partner and too many animals to list.

Braving Authenticity by Miles Jordan 

Definition: To meet or face courageously the quality of being genuine.

After being adopted internationally into a world where nobody looked like him or spoke the language he knew, Miles Cristiano Jordan realized from a young age that “fitting in” would never come easy. Labeled as black, multi-ethnic, depressed, transgender, and queer, Miles learned to be proud of who he is and to create his own definitions for these words. This is the story of a man who has overcome many struggles by remembering that it doesn’t matter what others call us, only what we answer to.

Breathing Out: A Love Story (Tales of Getting Shit Done While Hugging the World) by Niki Jordan 
Growing up a second generation blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nichiren Buddhist in Omaha, Nikola Halcyone Jordan was raised to handle the stresses of being ostracized by both schoolmates and family through her faith, and to fight for the rights of all. She found relief from years of depression and anxiety through a dedicated yoga practice.  Nikola’s newest challenge, after being diagnosed with a painful medical condition, is continuing her work in social justice advocacy while on wheels.

Coming Back Happier than Before: Combat Wounds, Recovery, and Embracing A New Direction by Chad Gibbs 

On December 2, 2006 outside Tikrit, Iraq, I was the driver of an armored vehicle that struck an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), wounding all three crew members instantly.  An air ambulance quickly flew two of us to a nearby field hospital in the hours after the attack.  That flight began what would personally be an over two-year physical and mental process of recuperation.  For me, recovery included leaving a career I loved and finding a new path in a far less scripted future.  Now, almost ten years later and with the benefit of extraordinary support and friendships along the way, I am about to finish my MA and begin PhD studies in the fall.

Creating Serendipity: Making the Most of the Opportunities that Come Your Way by Juan Casas(UNAVAILABLE)

When reflecting on the significant moments in his life, where one path could have easily become another path, Juan Casas can point to the importance of making the most of opportunities that presented themselves at key forks in the road.

Dancing through Life by Elizabeth Edwards 

Ballroom dancing was never just a hobby, it was her life. She fought cancer while dancing, raised her child as single mother with the money she earned through teaching dance and she met the love her life...all through dance. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise money for kids with cancer, all because of her dancing.  

Electric Girl by Stacy Cook 

The story of a young mom who turned to drugs after battling postpartum depression and manic depression, aka bipolar disorder.  Running out of options to control her mental illness she turned to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) and turned her life around.  Now sober, stable and even happy she is here to tell the story of how mental illness changed her life.

For Rosetta One Sunny Day &

Change/Medicine in Academe (for Judy Boss) by Michele Desmarais 

As a sixteen year old, Michele Desmarais (Canadian Métis with Spirit Lake Dakota, French and English ancestry) met an old woman named Rosetta in a psychiatric ward. That chance meeting, and the advice Rosetta gave, inspired Michele’s first published poem and a long process of change from “crazy” high school drop-out to Ph.D., from silence to Sanskrit.  Later, the culture shock of having this background but moving into academia to become a tenured professor was eased by the presence of Dr. Judy Boss, English and Native American Studies professor, and one tough, generous woman.  Judy’s insistence on pride, poetry and courage led to more poems, a national Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal writer’s grant, and change, medicine in academe.  This is a story about the power of words and the importance of having strong women mentors.

From Trash to Treasure by Bart Vargas 

Bart Vargas has gone from jumping in dumpsters and raiding recycle bins, to making works of art from those salvaged materials that have been exhibited across the country and the world. Vargas is still jumping in dumpsters.

 

The Darkest Night by Ryker Eli 

A story about a deaf transgender boy who speaks out in art and writing. Who thrives to show people how to become stronger and more self loving instead of falling into the demons trap listing to all the negative. A story on how to grow even in through the darkest night.

 

There's No Place Like Home: Utilizing Resiliency Factors to Overcome Racism, Poverty, Child Abuse, and Learned Helplessness by Dr. Franklin Thompson 

Franklin Thompson has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles that usually knock a typical person out of the game of life and has since dedicated himself to the Education of our youth. He has had a long-standing career as an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a former Counselor at Creighton Prep High School and Omaha Public Schools. Franklin is also a 4th term incumbent on the City Council where he represents west-central Omaha

Trout Fishing in the Nude by Kelsey Beyer 

How a professional figure model in Baltimore, recently dumped by her first girlfriend and fired from her glamorous job at Whole Foods, sets out for the public-urban-nudism capital of the world, San Francisco, and navigates shattered wrists, tent cities and mentally unstable OKcupid "activity partners" to somehow find herself drawing portraits of lesbian cats, disrobing in city hall, and moonlighting as the unofficial visual documentarian of the Bay Area's favorite girl orgy.

Blurring the Boxes: Gender and Academia by Jay Irwin (UNAVAILABLE)
While attending graduate school for a PhD in Medical Sociology, Jay Irwin transitioned from female to male. This is the story of someone moving between gender categories while trying to navigate through the hurdles of higher education, eventually finishing a PhD, and moving across the country with a partner and too many animals to list.

Breathing Out: A Love Story (Tales of Getting Shit Done While Hugging the World) by Niki Jordan 
Growing up a second generation blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nichiren Buddhist in Omaha, Nikola Halcyone Jordan was raised to handle the stresses of being ostracized by both schoolmates and family through her faith, and to fight for the rights of all. She found relief from years of depression and anxiety through a dedicated yoga practice.  Nikola’s newest challenge, after being diagnosed with a painful medical condition, is continuing her work in social justice advocacy while on wheels.

Journey from Bhutan by Netra Gurung 
My name is Netra Gurung. I am from Bhutan, but I spend most of my life as Refugee in Nepal.  I left my home country with my family at just 8 years old to live in a refugee camp in Nepal. I attended North Bengal University and received bachelor degree in commerce in 2006.  I came to United States in 2010. I was hired onto SSCA’s caseworker team in 2012  

Electric Girl by Stacy Cook

The story of a young mom who turned to drugs after battling postpartum depression and manic depression, aka bipolar disorder.  Running out of options to control her mental illness she turned to ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) and turned her life around.  Now sober, stable and even happy she is here to tell the story of how mental illness changed her life.

Finding Light in the Darkness by Cindy White 
Living with a choice she made in her early 20's, she found herself in her early 30's fighting an unimaginable illness that has profoundly continued to impact, and dramatically changed the outcome of everything she has done since that one pivotal choice.  What would have once defined her death has become a "life blessing in disguise.” Now totally blind,widowed, and dependent on medicine and insulin, she is a daughter, sister, aunt, mother and grandmother who is self-reliant and independent illustrating how one lives with adiagnosis of death, and how one can outlive the odds in her case, through sheer time and amazing medical advances.

All of Me by Beth Ellsworth

I became hard of hearing as a result of medicine given to me when I was just 10 days old.  Life presented me with many challenges but by facing them I now have a life of joy.  I am now a Field Representative for the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing.

There's no Place Like Home: Utilizing Resiliency Factors to Overcome Racism, Poverty, Child Abuse, and Learned Helplessness by Dr. Franklin Thompson 

Franklin Thompson has overcome a tremendous amount of obstacles that usually knock a typical person out of the game of life and has since dedicated himself to the Education of our youth. He has had a long-standing career as an Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a former Counselor at Creighton Prep High School and Omaha Public Schools. Franklin is also a 4th term incumbent on the City Council where he represents west-central Omaha.

Strong Liver by Lori Wingerter

You’ve heard of the LiveStrong Cancer organization...but have you ever heard of the ‘Strong Livers’? Diagnosed with Stage III Colon Cancer at the age of 38, not even sure exactly what a colon was, Lori set out to find a way to beat the odds and live to tell the tale. She didn’t want to just LiveStrong, she wanted to be a STRONG LIVER! Follow the Journey of this unlikely diagnosis of recovery from this ‘old man’s disease’ to where she is today, supporting emotional needs of cancer survivors.  

Be Resolute in Your Decisions and Pursuits. You Might Fall, but You Will Still Get Up and Chase Your Dream by Sher Jan Ahmadzai

Born in Afghanistan, lived as a refugee in Pakistan for two decades and returning to war stricken homeland was an experience that I and my fellow countrymen had to go through. Still, despite all challenges, worked at very high profile government position in the government and then achieved what I was dreaming for, I completed my higher education in the U.S. It was all made possible with strong resolution and eyes on the target. 

The Outside Looking In by Ferial Pearson

What is it like to always be the outsider? Ferial Pearson was born Ferial Mohamed in Nairobi, Kenya, into a family that already knew what it was like to not belong in any community because of race, religion, language, and nationality. She left home at 19 as the first in her family to attend college, and chose to go to Minnesota where she found herself, again, to be a minority. She learned how to thrive in those circumstances, and she figured out that being an outsider gave her a rare perspective that led to tremendous empathy. She teaches, coaches, speaks to, learns from, and serves people from all walks of life. Her story is one that proves you don’t have to fit in to belong.

 

Living in the Shadows by Ricky Smith 

What do you get exposed to when you are living in the Shadows of Poverty, Gang Violence, Drugs, Teen Pregnancy and Dysfunctional Families? What happens when nobody notices you because you are living in the shadows of everything that plagues Urban Youth? You get a story about hope, dreams, expectations, and greatness. You get a story about beating the odds and not ending up a statistic.