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Anne Burkholder


If you peek your head into Anne Burkholder’s studio, you’ll most likely see her hunched over her latest rural Nebraska landscape.

Inspiration for her paintings is derived from her childhood spent in the Sandhills, as well as frequent trips to remote locations across the great plains.

When I’m painting the skies, I’m just basically in that space. You know, if I’m painting a landscape I’m standing there in that field of grass or on that hill looking across the valley – it’s a really peaceful feeling for me,” Burkholder said.

But if you’re starting to get the idea that Ms. Burkholder is a soft-spoken wallflower then you’ve got it all wrong.

Anne’s life is marked by international backpacking trips, whimsical folk art and efforts to cultivate a thriving art culture in Lincoln.

In 1987 Anne sold nearly everything she owned to buy a run-down building in the Haymarket.

“It was really important for me that there be a community of artists, because as I was talking to other artists they needed to also get out of their kitchens and attics and garages, and have a space where they could do their art,” she said.

At the time, this area was dingy – to put it mildly – but Anne was determined to establish a space where artists from every background could work and display their art.

She was one of the major players in establishing Lincoln’s First Friday art walks in 1988 after visiting similar events in Minneapolis and Kansas City.

After almost 40 years, Anne still mingles among the guests that filter in and out of her gallery every First Friday. She smiles and nods at old friends, artists and patrons as she sits back and watches her once dreamed-up gallery come to life.

“Oh I have no plans to stop. Why would somebody retire if you’re doing exactly what you want to do?
You should still being doing it,” she said. “A nd making art, what a wonderful existence.”

Anne Burkholder is a lady with grit and a really good story, and it’s not over yet.

Brian Lehmann


Brian Lehmann fits the definition of a classic risk taker.

He’s the kind of guy who wakes up thinking about Indonesia, buys a ticket later that day and is driving a scooter around the country as soon as he lands.

(Yes, that really happened.)

But Brian doesn’t just take risks or hop on a plane for the fun of it. He does it because he’s afraid of what will happen if he stops taking these kinds of risks.

After graduating from college with a degree in photojournalism, Brian got a job at the Rocky Mountain News in Colorado. It was an enviable job to have scored so young, and Brian was doing well as a staff photographer. He was learning a lot, working hard and having a blast going out on assignment.

He was set… or so he thought.

A year and a half into his job, he and his 250 coworkers got the shocking news that the newspaper was shutting down. They were all let go with little warning and no safety net. It was scary, Brian said, but even scarier for the people who had families to take care of.

It was in that moment that Brian realized he couldn’t leave his future to chance, and now was his time to take risks, big risks.

He moved back to Lincoln and relaunched his landscaping and lawn care business. He’d mowed lawns ever since he was 14 and the business had paid his way through college, but now it was sustaining him while he sorted out his next steps.

Brian started thinking long and hard about why he was a photographer.

He remembered how he’d majored in business and dabbled in flying before changing his major to journalism.

He thought about the first time he met Joel Sartore, a Lincoln native and National Geographic photographer. How he traded manual labor jobs for photography critiques and life lessons with the famed photographer who eventually became his mentor.

And he came to the conclusion that he couldn’t do lawn care forever. Sure, he liked it and he was even pretty good at it, but there was no way he could let go of photojournalism or even let it slump into the category of ‘hobby.’

Brian decided that instead of working for a newspaper or even one single magazine, he’d do his own stories, set his own schedule and find stories both locally and internationally. He discovered that he could plant flowers, mow lawns and do landscape design as a way to fund his international trips, and so far it’s worked.

He’s worked in places like Nicaragua, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and India. He laughs about the time he peed his pants while on a horribly rocky boat in the middle of the Caribbean Sea with some angry turtle hunters, and the time he was arrested in India only to have the local police feed him dinner and Facebook friend him before releasing him.

These are the kinds of experiences that Brian craves when he’s back in Lincoln. His work varies from week to week. Some weeks he’s more focused on lawn care and others he’s gearing up for a trip and doing research about the next country he’s going to visit.

In May he’ll be in Uganda with a group of photojournalism students from UNL and in August he’s heading back to Nicaragua to finish shooting a story about endangered green sea turtles.

Last year his first photo story was published in National Geographic. It was about the death culture in Indonesia, a story he’d had a strong hunch about and following his hunch paid off. In the process he made friends with translators, had coffee with dozens of village leaders and was able to expose a traditional way of life for a small but beautiful group of people.

These are the stories Brian thinks about when he’s adding mulch to a client’s flower bed, walking his dog, Murphy, or sitting in his backyard. They are the stories of people and cultures that have woven themselves into Brian’s own story in ways he can’t quite describe.

Sure, he said, he’s taking a risk to fly around the world with little more than a camera and an idea, but the people he photographs are taking their own risk when they open their lives and share their stories with him. Brian has lived small parts of people’s lives with them through the lens of his camera. What he’s seen has changed the way he sees life, how he lives life and how he wants to spend his time.

But the thing Brian said he keeps coming back to is that he’s lucky.

Lucky that he can run a business that helps fund his passions. Lucky that he’s surrounded by mentors and fellow photographers who help him refine his skills. Lucky that he has the stability to hop on a plane when he needs to and lucky that at the age of 35 he’s doing something he loves.

He’s lucky that he gets to take risks, and he doesn’t want that to ever change.

Matt Schulte


Matt Schulte never imagined raising his family in Lincoln, but that’s what he’s doing.

Lincoln was where he spent a good chunk of his childhood. It’s where his dad ran a ministry, where he started school and played sports. But for whatever reason, as Matt got older he just couldn’t picture himself living in Lincoln.

Now, he can’t picture his life anywhere else.

If Matt’s name sounds familiar it could be for one of two reasons. He’s on the Lincoln Public Schools school board and he’s the executive director of the ministry Youth For Christ.

Between his two roles, Matt has a lot of connections to youth in Lincoln. He sees the enrollment numbers, financials and school growth as a school board member, and he sees those numbers come to life as he mentors kids in detention centers, kids in Geometry or teen parents.

But again, this was never in Matt’s plan.

Matt graduated from high school, attended college in Arkansas and after his freshman year, took a break from school.

Matt said he needed some perspective. He liked school, was doing well, but wanted some time to really test out his major – Should he go into education like he planned? Or do ministry like his dad?

Matt spent four months attending a language school in Guatemala, another four months as an intern for Campus Life and his last four months working in the Dominican Republic.

When he came back to the states and enrolled in school again, he knew he wanted to pursue non-profit ministry. Which meant when he graduated, he would leave the country again.

Matt traveled around Central America working with various ministry organizations. He loved speaking the language, exploring different cultures and getting to know the people he was in community with on a daily basis. It was during his traveling that he met his wife, Kristin. They shared a love for travel, cultures and ministry and the two got married shortly after meeting.

They continued to travel and work in Central America until six years ago when they moved their family to Lincoln.

At the time they had two young children and one on the way, and life abroad was beginning to be too much for them to keep up with. Matt had heard that the Youth For Christ ministry in Lincoln needed some additional help and decided it was the right time for his family to make the move.

That’s how Matt ended up back in Lincoln. He found himself working into the role that his dad had when he was a kid – the executive director for Youth for Christ – and something about it felt familiar and right, but also very different.

Matt worked to expand the ministry, growing it in size but also in scope. Youth For Christ now has a ministry for teen parents and incarcerated youth.

It’s through his work in ministry that Matt has come to understand Lincoln again, specifically Lincoln’s youth. Whether it’s the stories he hears through his staff members or interactions he has on a daily basis with kids, Matt knows the stories of Lincoln’s youth better than most people in town.

Matt said his work has helped him believe in the Lincoln community, which ultimately led him to run for the LPS school board in 2014.

He secured a spot on the board, winning in a 3 percent margin over the incumbent.

Being on the school board has been a huge learning curve, Matt said. His decisions impact 40,000 kids in Lincoln, and he’s convinced, more than ever, that the local school board needs the community’s attention.

When the school board discusses enrollment numbers, bussing or financial reports, Matt can think of specific kids and families who will be impacted by these decisions. His two jobs just make sense together.

His career choices also have deep family ties. Not only was his dad the area director for Youth For Christ, but his mom was also on the school board. Matt said he remembers his mom inviting members of the teachers union into their living room to have discussions about the contract negotiations. It was serious stuff and it showed Matt how involved his parents were in their community.

Now, he’s the one setting that example for his four kids. Matt said he’s very aware of his impact in the community, but he’s also aware of the little sets of eyes who watch their dad interact with the community each day.

Matt didn’t plan on coming back to Lincoln. He didn’t plan to run a ministry like his dad or be on the school board like his mom, but that’s how it played out.

He’s proud of his story, of the way he’s serving his community from two similar but very different places. He’s happy to be in Lincoln again, and to help make the city the best place it can be.

Andrea Faas


These days, Andrea Faas doesn’t get out of the office much. She has emails to answer, phone calls to make, programs to coordinate and a whole stack of paperwork she needs to tackle.

It’s funny, she said, because her work is to encourage people to do the exact opposite of what she does all day.

But when she does get a chance to escape her work, Andrea leaves her office and walks.

Her office is located on a wildlife preserve that’s surrounded by native grasses, nearly 9 miles of trails, Nebraska wildlife and a pond.

It’s in this kind of setting where Andrea said she can breathe deepest and just be. Nature has always been a place where she’s found comfort, freedom and strength – it’s personal for Andrea and has been a strong theme in her story for as long as she can remember.

As a kid, Andrea was digging in her backyard, poking at bugs and splashing around in the creek behind her house. Her childhood was about discovery and adventure, and so much of that shaped her desire to learn more.

When she was 12 years old, she and a friend biked across the state of Iowa. It was exhilarating and challenging, and she remembers thinking, “I did that?! I can do anything!”

It was an empowering moment for a young girl, and Andrea said she knew then that she could take on new challenges, have adventures and survive to tell about them.

In high school, a school counselor encouraged Andrea to do some volunteer work. Andrea saw an opportunity at Fontenelle Forest in Omaha where she was tasked with caring for mice. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was her first step toward a career.

Andrea moved up from caring for mice to feeding them to snakes and then helping out with summer camps. When it came time for college she tried out UNL and UNO before transferring to the University of Minnesota.

During school Andrea chose to study abroad in Ecuador for a year, adding yet another level of adventure to her experiences. She lived with a host family, worked at a biological research station, learned with researchers from around the world and worked with local farmers.

Andrea said she remembers trying to soak up as much information as she could about the culture and the natural resources in her new home.

When she returned to school after studying abroad, Andrea knew she needed a hands-on job after she graduated. She was offered a position at Fontenelle Forest and eagerly jumped in to work.

But Andrea was always on the lookout for her next adventure. After a few years in Omaha she packed her bags and drove out to California to work at a few schools in and around Yosemite. It was an amazing opportunity with gorgeous scenery and so much to learn and teach.

People would often ask where she was from and when she said Nebraska they’d say, “What’s in Nebraska?!??!”

Sure, Andrea thought, Nebraska didn’t have the ocean or mountains, but there was something about the expansive plains and awe-inspiring Nebraska sunsets that she missed in California. Plus, she missed her family, so after a two years she made the trek back home.

Andrea took a job with Nebraska Game and Parks and logged thousands of miles across the state. She saw places and people, natural sites and one-of-a-kind species that all contributed to the beauty of Nebraska.

She also put down some roots of her own, getting married and then having two children. Her family moved to Lincoln when she heard about a job opening at the Pioneers Park Nature Center, and a few years later she was named the Center’s Coordinator.

This has been Andrea’s first ‘office’ job. It’s different than working in the field, and yet, it’s her position that encourages people to get out and explore. It’s a job that’s less about the building she’s in and more about the land and environment that surrounds her building, and that’s what she loves.

Andrea said a lot of kids love the outdoors, but they often grow out of it as adults. For her, it just stuck. It’s been a consistent and familiar theme in her life, and it’s also an appreciation she hopes to instill in her children and anyone who visits the Nature Center.

“You don’t have to understand everything you see here,” she said. “You just have to get out and experience it.”

That’s why Andrea gets out of the office whenever she can to walk. Whether it’s a 30-minute hike or just a few minutes taking deep breathes, nature is where Andrea feels the most like herself. It’s her therapy, her friend and her story – and now, it’s what she shares with her community.

Glen Parks


Glen Parks sat down in the cafeteria at the Nebraska State Capitol and folded his hands on the table in front of him.

“Well, where should I start?” he said.

Glen’s story is complicated. It involves a lot of countries, a lot of jobs and a lot of moving. But it’s a story that’s landed him and his family back in Lincoln – a place they didn’t really imagine their story playing out.

Glen’s parents were missionaries who were based out of Nebraska, but lived internationally in places like the Philippines for much of his childhood.

Living abroad was a natural part of Glen’s life and it was a common denominator when he met his wife, Bec, during college. The couple loved exploring new cultures together and imagined their life would eventually take them abroad.

Glen said shortly after they were married he vividly remembers sitting in a coffee shop with Bec and another young couple dreaming about their futures. The four of them decided they wanted to do something big, something that involved working to end sex trafficking in countries like India and Nepal. So right then and there they made a pact to make their dreams more than just words.

It was an exciting and sobering moment, Glen said. It felt like their lives had just changed, and in many ways they had.

The two couples went their separate ways but met up once a year for the next four years to continue planning.

At this point, Glen was finishing up law school at UNL while their friends were based in India working with the International Justice Mission (IJM) doing human trafficking work.

It was a strange period of waiting, Glen said, because while they were excited about possibility of moving and working in another country, their family was starting to settle in Lincoln. 

But in 2006 the right time finally came for Glen and Bec to move their family to India, and they were relieved to do the work they’d dreamed of in that coffee shop.

It was a difficult transition. They uprooted their lives, Glen left a great job, and they moved – but they knew the timing and the purpose was right for their family.

Over the next four years Glen watched as their dream turned into a reality. He headed up the legal department of their new firm and slowly built relationships that allowed their team to rescue girls from sex trafficking and prosecute brothel owners.

It was satisfying work that engaged Glen’s legal skills, critical thinking and passion, but he was also in awe of what he was seeing happen to his family.

Glen watched his children love and embrace another culture, he watched his wife encourage women who had lived through horrific situations and he watched his family grow together.

That’s the thing about traveling abroad, Glen said, family is your constant.

In 2010, Glen made the difficult decision to step down from his role at the anti-trafficking firm he’d started. He and his friend had different visions for the firm and Glen decided he’d walk away instead of ruin a friendship.

But his family didn’t leave India. They stayed rooted in their community and Glen taught law classes at a local university. Their plan was to stay in India long-term, but during an 8-week family trip to the U.S. in July 2015 Glen’s visa was suddenly cancelled and his visa application was denied. Bec and the kids returned to India to pack up without Glen and a letter arrived in December telling the family they had one week to leave the country. 

So, they came back to Lincoln. Glen took a job at the Capitol working as a term-clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. It was work he was excited to take on, but the job had an expiration date – August 1, 2016.

So, once again, they were in adjustment mode.

Now what?

An uncertain future has been a consistent theme in Glen’s story. It’s not a surprise, and he’s used to doing his part and then trusting that all the pieces will come together.

But even though it’s not new territory, it’s still uncomfortable. Glen’s children are now 17, 16, 14 and 12 and they recently adopted a 11-year-old boy.

And yet Glen knows that another strong theme in his story has been sufficiency and grace. He’s seen situations turn around in ways he’s never imagined, he’s been offered jobs that are a perfect fit for his skills and he’s lived in places where his family has thrived despite immense difficulties.

Glen’s story has been about learning when to wait, go and stop. It’s been one with unplanned adventures and lots of growing, but all of it has taught Glen to be present in his current situation.

Right now, being present means leaning in to Lincoln. It’s not where he expected to be, and yet, he knows it’s where he and his family need to be. 

Amy Barrett


Amy Barrett has lived in the same house in Lincoln for 23 years.

She’s watched the neighborhood kids grow up, go to college and start families. She’s seen the trees in her backyard transform from small saplings into massive leaf monsters. And she’s seen herself change too.

When she moved into her house, Amy was far from home. Now, no place feels more like home than Lincoln, Nebraska.

Amy was born nearly 8,000 miles away from Lincoln in Manila, Philippines. She was one of eight children and grew up in a very traditional Filipino family.

When Amy was 17 she met and married her husband, Wayne, a native of Houston, Texas. It was a big deal that Amy dated and married a foreigner. Her parents were strict, and while Amy respected their wishes, she also liked to push the boundaries. She had a secret job, dated without her parents knowing and dreamed of someday leaving the Philippines.

After Amy and Wayne got married, they moved to Singapore for Wayne’s job in the oil industry. It was just the kind of excitement Amy had dreamed of experiencing.

Singapore was a city with lots of energy and diversity. Amy quickly made new friends with people from all over the world. She learned how to cook all types of ethnic food and was a sponge for information about her friends’ various cultures and traditions. It felt like Singapore was Amy’s new home.

But after having two children and being frequently on the move with Wayne’s job, they decided to move their family to Lincoln, Nebraska.

They landed in Lincoln during December of 1993 with no winter clothing, but they were anxious for a quieter and more stable place to raise their children. Amy plugged the boys into school and went to work making their new house into their permanent home.

It was a major adjustment. The boys missed their friends and it was a huge culture shift to move from a busy city like Singapore to the east side of Lincoln. But in a way only Amy could, she quickly went to work making new friends and carving out a place for her family in the community.

She found the people of Lincoln to be friendly and open, willing to share advice and connect with her family. It was refreshing despite all of the transitions her family had faced. Lincoln started to feel more like home.

Shortly before Amy’s 40th birthday, Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer. He battled the disease for three months and then passed away suddenly.

Amy was shocked. The man who’d given her so much and loved her family well for more than half of her life was gone.

But Amy also isn’t one to give up. She was heartbroken by the loss of her husband, but she also had an amazing support group of friends that she’d built while they’d lived in Lincoln.

“It was hard, but it makes you stronger,” she said. “You survive.”

And that’s what Amy has done. A few years before Wayne died, Amy took classes to become a nail technician. Growing up with six sisters had taught Amy a thing or two about doing nails and the rest came naturally. She worked at a salon in town to make some extra money and loved the way it allowed her to socialize and do something she enjoyed.

After Wayne died, Amy continued working to support herself and her sons. She quickly built up a steady flow of clients who appreciated her meticulous work and friendly personality. Amy said she’s had a few of the same clients for nearly 15 years.

That’s the thing, Amy is just one of those people who others can’t help but enjoy being around. She’s an outgoing and warm lady who likes hosting big dinner parties with lots of home-cooked food for all of her guests. These big meals remind her of her mother who would make enough food for the whole neighborhood, because, as her mother would say, ‘You never know who’ll stop by for dinner.’

Amy operates a lot like her mom in that way. She’s hospitable and easy-going, but she’s also not afraid of hard work. Her story has been about adventure and exploration, but also heartache and resilience.

The difficult parts of her story just make her more thankful for the good things she’s experienced. Things like meeting and marrying her second husband, Don, being a grandmother and even simple pleasures like gardening or catching up over drinks with a nail client.

Amy’s story starts with an adventurous girl who dreamed of leaving home. Now, her idea of home isn’t some exotic city, but a house in east Lincoln with her husband, her dogs and a whole lot of friends – and that’s just fine by Amy.

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