Photo of Melanie Clark from Today's Omaha Woman magazine.

Melanie Morrissey Clark

There’s nothing quite like being able to feel the energy in a room.

If you have attended a Women’s Fund of Omaha Lead the Change Annual Celebration in recent years, you know what I’m talking about. It’s so palpable that the famous and engaging speakers on stage are almost secondary.

You can feel it from the first moment you walk into the room, and it builds from there. It’s hard to put a name to, but to me it always feels like a united energy toward change, and a sisterhood of support. All of these women and their allies from diverse backgrounds coming together—each one making her own critical contributions to our collective future—it just gets me every time. I walk out on a wave of optimism that carries me for weeks.

This energy has, in fact, been building for years. I attribute this in part to the incredible work the Women’s Fund is doing in our community, and to some marked changes in our society.

You know what I mean—women are being taken more seriously when they talk about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Survivors are being believed. The careers of powerful men are being thwarted because of their misconduct toward women. Offenders are being held accountable more often.

Women are speaking up, showing up and no longer just putting up with “boys being boys.”

Women of color are being elected to positions at various levels of government in record numbers. Meanwhile all women are being invited into conversations where they weren’t included before.

This magazine is changing, too. After many years of focusing on the broader issues—such as intimate partner violence and the pay gap—we are heading back to our roots. Today’s Omaha Woman was founded on a desire to celebrate and share the life lessons and success stories of local women—and from now on, that’s just what we are going to do.

On these pages you will find profiles of 15 women from our community. All are brave and bold, yet also sometimes vulnerable, and not always confident. These women are accomplished, but in varied ways. They are authentic human beings with life stories filled with challenges, losses and victories. And they are willing to share them with you, our readers.

Each and every one does so with a singular goal in mind—to light the way for the next woman.

Because this is how we keep the energy in this room going. After celebrating our own achievements, we reach back for the women coming up behind us.