Michelle Zych – Executive Director
As executive director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, Michelle leads the nonprofit organization as it identifies critical issues, funds innovative solutions and leads dynamic change to provide every woman and girl in our community with the opportunity to reach her full potential. Prior to joining the organization in May 2012, Michelle served as founding chair of the Women’s Fund Circles, a group designed to provide young women with the opportunity to network, interact with established community leaders, learn about philanthropy and support our mission.
Her past experience includes serving as regional development director for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and director of strategic development for Camp Fire USA – Midlands Council (now known as Completely Kids). She holds a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and a bachelor of art’s degree in women’s studies and sociology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
Michelle is a member of Omaha Network; a recipient of the Midland’s Business Journal’s 40 Under 40; a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 31 and the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands’ Nonprofit Executive Institute Class 7.
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Traci Bruckner – Research and Policy Director
Traci joined the Women’s Fund in June of 2016 as the Research & Policy Director. In this position, her role is to oversee research efforts and develop strategy and relationships that will improve the lives of women and girls through public policy solutions. Traci spent the last 15 years with the Center for Rural Affairs leading their federal policy efforts around agriculture, conservation, beginning and women farming issues. She has also worked on state health care, agriculture, and tax policy issues. Traci holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science and Sociology.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Brenda Council – Adolescent Health Project Manager
Brenda joined the Women’s Fund in January 2014 as the Adolescent Health Project Manager. Her previous involvement with the organization includes regular participation as a presenter for Ready to Run. She has an extensive record of public service, including election to the Omaha Public Schools Board of Education, the Omaha City Council and the Nebraska Legislature.
As adolescent health project manager, Brenda leads the Women’s Fund’s project with the Sherwood Foundation, which is aimed at reducing teen pregnancies and STIs in our community.
“Service is the rent we pay for room on this earth.”
– Shirley Chisholm
Jill Heggen – Public Relations and Social Media Manager
Jill joined the Women’s Fund in October 2016 after working as Public Relations Counsel for Swanson Russell, a local advertising agency. For more than five years, she worked on several regional accounts including Do Space and the Nebraska Tourism Commission. She also worked with national clients like the Urban Libraries Council in Washington, DC. Prior to that, Jill worked as director of communications at Bethany College in Kansas.
Her past experience also includes working at KPTS, a public TV station in Wichita, KS, where she served as the community pledge development associate. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications, with minors in business and multicultural studies from Bethany College.
“You may be disappointed if you fail, but you’re doomed if you don’t try.”
– Beverly Sills
Clare Hiyama – Weitz Fellow
Clare joined the Women’s Fund in August 2016 as a year-long Weitz Fellow. She works on a wide range of projects at the Women’s Fund and assists in many aspects of its operation. Clare graduated from Carleton College with a BA in Sociology and Anthropology and a concentration in Women and Gender Studies. While at Carleton, Clare worked for two years as a sexuality peer-educator with an emphasis on sexual violence prevention and LGBTQIA+ community building. Through this peer-education, she gained a passion for work that empowers young people to be self-advocates for and become healthy members of their communities.
“Male supremacist ideology encourages women to believe we are valueless and obtain value only by relating to or bonding with men. We are taught that our relationships with one another diminish rather than enrich our experience…We can be sisters united by shared interests and beliefs, united in our appreciation for diversity, united in our struggle to end sexist oppression, united in political solidarity.” – bell hooks
Nduulwa Kowa – Office Assistant
Nduulwa joined the Women’s Fund in September 2016 and was our first recipient of the Marian Ivers Internship. She works on a wide range of projects at the Women’s Fund and assists in many aspects including marketing, public relations, and social media. Ndu is a senior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and graduated in December 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, with concentrations in Global Strategic Studies, International Management and a minor in Business. She is passionate about combating the issues facing women around the world and wishes to work with nonprofits aimed at improving the lives of women.
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” -Maya Angelou
Meghan Malik – Trafficking Project Manager
Meghan joined the Women’s Fund in 2015 as the Trafficking Project Manager. She is working to combat sex trafficking in Nebraska through the development of a comprehensive approach that includes research, victim services, and public awareness.
Meghan’s previous experience includes serving as the Children & Family Center Director at Nebraska Children’s Home Society, the Young Families Initiative Supervisor at Lutheran Family Services, and the Executive Director of the Nebraska CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Association. She has experience building coalitions and community champions while remaining outcome-driven. Meghan holds a master’s degree in public administration from University of Nebraska-Omaha and a bachelor of arts degree in Human Resources and Family Sciences from University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Christon MacTaggart – Domestic/Sexual Violence Program Manager
Christon joined the Women’s Fund staff in June of 2016 as the Domestic/Sexual Violence Program Manager. Before coming to the Women’s Fund, she was the Community Response Coordinator at the Domestic Violence Council.
In her position at the Women’s Fund, Christon is responsible for creating a coordinated system response to domestic violence and sexual assault that will keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. She is passionate about collaboration and working with communities to creating change and has spent over fifteen years working with victims of crime and coordinating system response. She previously held positions as the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Program Manager for the Nebraska State Patrol and the Outreach Coordinator for the Heartland Family Domestic Abuse Program. She is on the Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Crime Board and the previous Board Chair for the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. Christon has a Bachelor’s Degree from Peru State College.
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.K. Rowling
Erin McArthur – Director of Operations
As Director of Operations, Erin is responsible for managing all office operations and serves as the staff liaison for the committees of Grants, Ready to Run, Talk of the Town and Circles. Erin has been a member of the Friends of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland since 2009.
“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem
Jen Pavkov – Marketing and Public Relations Manager
As the Marketing and PR Manager, Jen is responsible for leveraging the Women’s Fund brand through marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. Jen holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from Columbia College with an emphasis in painting and drawing and a minor in psychology. She is passionate about solving problems through creativity and hard work.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
Lisa Schulze – Adolescent Health Project Training & Education Coordinator
Lisa joined the Women’s Fund of Omaha in April 2015. Prior to that she was a health educator for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland for over fourteen years and a Career Specialist with the YWCA of Lincoln. Lisa specializes in working with youth, persons with intellectual disabilities and the intersection of sexuality and substance use. She is a frequent guest reviewer for the American Journal of Sexuality Education (AJSE) and has been a national trainer for Answer at Rutgers University. Her lesson plan on female sexuality was published in the Center for Family Life Education’s Game On! Manual: The Ultimate Sexuality Education Gaming Guide in Spring 2012. She holds a master’s of education in human sexuality from Widener University. She recently became an AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator, the second in Nebraska. She sits on the Board of Directors of Heartland Big Brothers Big Sisters and previously on the Mayor’s Commission on Women in Lincoln, NE.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde