Jon Watts, Lucas Dart selected for Leadership Nebraska

LINCOLN – University of Nebraska at Kearney employees Lucas Dart and Jon Watts have been selected to participate in Leadership Nebraska, a Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry program in its 10th year.

Leadership Nebraska was founded in 2006 to identify current and emerging leaders throughout the state, enhance their leadership skills and deepen their knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing Nebraska.

Lucas Dart
Jon Watts
Jon Watts

Participants are selected from different regions of the state and possess varied backgrounds and diverse talents. All candidates have demonstrated an abiding interest in Nebraska and its future.

Dart is vice president of alumni relations and development of the University of Nebraska Foundation. Watts is UNK’s vice chancellor of business and finance.

Leadership Nebraska consists of six sessions covering a broad range of key Nebraska issues, including economic development, health care, education, agriculture, government and policy development. Class 10 begins with an orientation in June and concludes in February 2018 with a commencement ceremony in Lincoln. Sessions will be conducted at various locations of the state.

“Graduates of Leadership Nebraska have a broader understanding of our state and are better prepared to move into leadership responsibilities, whether in their career, their community or at the state level,” said Barry Kennedy, president of the Nebraska Chamber.

Listed below are the 30 Nebraskans selected to participate in Leadership Nebraska, along with the class member’s employer and city:

Auburn – Jared Gerdes, Ariens Company
Aurora – Jim Ediger, Hamilton Telecommunications
Blair – Wyatt Leehy, Great Plains Communications
Broken Bow – Mitch Hunt, Huntrex LLC
Center – Megan Hanefeldt, Knox County Development Agency
Chadron – Ben Watson, Chadron State College Foundation
Columbus – Chad Podolak, Nebraska Public Power District
Gering – Kare Heilbrun, State Farm Kare Heilbrun Agency
Grand Island – John McHargue, Pinnacle Bank
Hastings – Michael Krings, Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC
Kearney – Lucas Dart, University of Nebraska Foundation; Elizabeth Roetman, Economic Development Council of Buffalo County; Jon Watts, University of Nebraska-Kearney
Lincoln – Jason Bennett, Black Hills Energy; Kiim Betancur, Ayars & Ayars, Inc.; Jeremiah Blake, State Senator Matt Williams; Randy Hawthorne, NonProfit Hub; Alyssia Hernandez, State Farm Insurance; Theresa Klein, Rural Futures Institute at UNL; Jodi Rowlett, State Farm Insurance
Louisville – John Dale, Ash Grove Cement Company
Nebraska City – Kiel VanderVeen, VanderVeen Financial Planning
Norfolk – Paula Adler, Daycos; Terry Rasmussen, NUCOR Steel Nebraska
Omaha – Jason Gustafson, Wells Fargo Bank; Jared Meays, The Harry A. Koch Co.; Sandra Reding, Aksarben Foundation; Quinn Texmo, JEO Consulting Group, Inc.; Kim Weiss, First National Bank
O’Neill – Nicole Sedlacek, Nebraska Public Power District


Contact: Roberta Pinkerton, Leadership Nebraska, 402-474-4422,