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Bryan Seck


When we got to the end of the interview, Bryan Seck said it felt a little strange being asked questions instead of asking them. He’s usually the one listening, so it was nice to be heard for a change, he said.

No, he’s not some kind of reporter or therapist.

Bryan Seck is the Lincoln Public Schools Homeless Outreach Specialist. A job where he meets with homeless families and connects them with the resources they need.

It’s a job which is anything but black and white. It’s busy and littered with messy situations, complicated agencies and a whole lot of chaos. But here’s the thing – Bryan isn’t a stressful person. He’s calm, relaxed, systematic and intentional.

Even though he’s only lived in Lincoln a little over two years, he has a better working knowledge of the community resources than most Lincoln natives.

Don’t mistake his cool head for apathy though, it’s actually the opposite. On any given day, Bryan is sitting down with a family to hear their story, picking up food and clothing, working out of his car or advocating for a child over the phone.

He knows how to change his tone when talking with a domestic violence victim to help them find stability, and is on a first-name basis with people at nearly every area agency to advocate for each family he meets. Bryan can be a quiet listener, or a fierce fighter to make the needs and voices of the homeless heard.

But in reality, he can only guarantee three things: kids are enrolled in school, have transportation to school and receive free and reduced lunch. Those are what he can provide for every homeless family in Lincoln.

Then, there’s the long list of people and circumstances that are 100 percent out of his control.

He can’t personally make sure people stay on the straight and narrow. He can’t physically turn in a job or housing application. He can’t emotionally manage the sad situations he sees each day.

But he can follow-up with people to check-in and give them a push. He can ask good questions, hear their stories and give them the names of people who can help. He can and has built strong partnerships with local shelters, food banks and faith-based organizations.

At the end of the day, Bryan has to let go. Not throw in the towel, but trust that he did everything in his power to help.

This has been hard for him to learn, and harder still to put into practice. Seeing and hearing so many stories can feel heavy.  Which is why he plays soccer a few times a week, processes his day with his wife and rests in the fact that he doesn’t do his work alone.

He collaborates with schools, counselors, social workers, psychologists and administrators who funnel needs and people to him. Without these people, he wouldn’t know who to help.

Bryan serves on half a dozen local boards – including the Lincoln Homeless Coalition – because he knows that transferring the knowledge and information he takes in every day to a room of problem-solving people can help him and the people he serves.

He’s one of many people in LPS and the city who hear the stories of the homeless community.

Yes, he has a big job, but he’s not alone.

If Bryan can get the small, quiet voices of the homeless heard then he’s done his job well, because being heard matters.

Amy Green


Amy Green pulled a few hefty boxes out of her storage room in the basement of The Creamery Building and carried them out to the front of her shop. Inside the boxes were guestbooks with 15 years worth of customer comments, drawings and Ivanna Cone love notes.

To Amy, this is the feedback that matters most.

Sure, she’s the brainpower behind Lincoln’s most popular local ice cream shop, but she’d rather stay behind the scenes. She was a little skittish to talk about any specific, personal details, because to Amy Ivanna Cone isn’t about her, it’s about family.

It’s Amy, her team and the customers. These people make the shop tick, whether they’ve been in once or hundreds of times since it opened 18 years ago.

Back then the Haymarket’s dominant landmarks were Lazlo’s, The Burkholder Project and The Oven – and parking was a whole lot easier, she said.

Amy is all about family, because that’s how Ivanna Cone started. Her parents helped her buy the shop and she quickly found herself in the role of full-time mom and business woman.

But from the get go Amy was all in.

She had two young kids – Grace and Tom – and a brain full of ice cream recipes, so the ice cream had to sell itself, she said.

On the weekends her parents would drive down from Fremont to watch the kids or pass out $1 scoops at the farmers market.

During the week Amy worked with the kids at her feet. She made the shop kid-friendly by creating a toy corner and installing a johnny jump up in the kitchen.

Amy has made batch upon batch of oddball flavor combinations and she estimated about 10-12 thousand batches of the all-time fan favorite Dutch Chocolate.

A little obsessive, right?

But that’s the thing about owning a business, you can’t turn it off.

Amy said she’s had to teach herself to let others help out and to schedule time to relax outside of the shop. These days her nearly grown kids man the counter on a pretty frequent basis, and Grace said she hopes to someday run the shop when her mom is ready to throw in the towel.

But that won’t be anytime soon, Amy quickly interjected. She pointed to her arm to show off the 18 scoops of ice cream that snake their way up and around her arm – one for every year the shop is open – and there’s still more space, she said.

Here’s the deal: Ivanna Cone is Ivanna Cone because Amy Green is Amy Green.

From the on-purpose whimsical flavors to the layout and design of the shop, it’s all Amy.

She’s a woman who loves challenges and writing paychecks, but hates paperwork. She loves throwing money at bizarre ice cream ideas, and will never franchise her shop or lose her dark sense of humor.

And while Amy is a little shy about standing in the spotlight, her much beloved ice cream shop is beloved because of her, and that’s the real story.

Steve Kiene


Simple, but complex. It’s a weird combination, said Steve Kiene, but it’s him. Jeans and a tshirt simple, and software nerd complex.

If you saw Steve around town, you might confuse him for another one of the tech geeks grabbing coffee before hunkering down in their office for the day. Which might be accurate in some sense, but also a gross understatement.

If you know anything about Steve’s story, then you know that well before he was the Managing Principal of Nebraska Global he was well-known in the realm of Mac software. He’s even had some pretty hardcore groupies/stalkers, no joke. But let’s back up a little. 

At 11 he flunked out of summer school because he discovered “the drug” that was computer programming.

At 17 he skipped classes to hang out with programmers and turned down going to MIT because all he wanted to do was program.

And at 19 he had a job offer from Apple that he turned down. 

But Steve doesn’t care about his reputation. In fact, he can be a bit of a polarizing figure in the community because he has some pretty definite opinions. His real mission, like him, is simple but complex.

Steve doesn’t want to build companies, he wants to build people.

Heard that before? Yeah, so have we. But Steve puts his money where his mouth is.

Back in 2006 he had a decision to make – keep pushing his two companies forward or sell. He sold. And while Steve said at times he questions his decision to sell MindVision and eSellerate, he never regrets what he did with the $25 million he got from the sale.

He gave half of the money to the employees who helped him build the two companies, and donated and invested much of other half in the community. For him, splitting the money with the people who had invested time and effort in his companies meant they should share in the sale, and the sheer fact that he was the sole proprietor didn’t matter.

Steve makes up his own rules, much like his dad.

As a kid, Steve would go to work with his dad who owned a heating and air conditioning business. He watched him repair systems and write up bills, oftentimes only charging people for the cost of the materials.

His dad didn’t explain why he did it, he just did what he thought was honest and right, and Steve noticed.

That’s how Steve feels about building the community by building people –  he wants to do what he thinks is right and helpful, that’s it. 

And he’s in it for the long, long haul.

Earlier this year, Steve and his wife became parents again. He clicked his phone on and showed me his home screen – a photo of his happy, pudgy little boy.

“This is what matters,” he said, pointing to the screen.

Steve said being a parent makes him feel like a pseudo-parent to the people he works with everyday.  He feels invested in their well being, and pushes them to create things that matter, not just to fit some entrepreneurial stereotype.

Steve isn’t about smoke and mirrors. He isn’t about spinning his story to make people like him.

He’s just a guy with long hair and glasses, who cares about doing what’s right for the community both now and in the future.

Because to Steve, people matter.

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