Founder & CEO
Jeremy currently serves RISE as the Founder and CEO. Prior to joining RISE, he served for 7 years as Associate Vice President of Development at Creighton University.
Jeremy has 19 years of leadership experience in higher education and non-profit organizations in New York City, Baltimore and Omaha. He earned a BA in Communications from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and a Masters of Science in Leadership from Creighton University.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org | (402) 981-4119
Sarah stumbled into a professional career centered around housing, launching into property management, and progressing into homeless services. Along the ride, she learned about low income and luxury housing, gained an enthusiasm for travel, received a Bachelor of Arts degree, found a passion for volunteering, and grew a knack for kick starting projects.
This knack led to her most recent feats: building and implanting programs including a rental relief program in the height of the pandemic, and two landlord engagement programs that focus on mitigating the risk landlords take when housing individuals with complicated backgrounds. These programs continue to thrive today as Metro Housing Collaborative (Omaha, NE) and Landlord Housing Partnership (Anchorage, AK).
Sarah's strengths come to light when she engages with others, especially, over a shared idea. For her, it doesn’t get much better than the joy of assisting others and watching as their passions come to life.
Director of Operations
For the past 10 years Caitlin has been immersed in customer service and client satisfaction work. She worked as General Manager of a nationally acclaimed wellness clinic for 7 years, and most recently worked as the General Manager of a 170-acre event venue, specializing in weddings, concerts, and corporate events.
Caitlin is a certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, and in 2021 entered Omaha Correctional Center, Nebraska State Penitentiary, Lincoln Correctional Center, and Nebraska Correctional Center for Women as a RISE volunteer to teach a mindfulness series to RISE graduates.
Additionally, she completed a 200-hr yoga teacher training, and is actively working through a continued education program through Prison Yoga Project.
Caitlin is passionate about connecting with people and creating purposeful experiences. In 2020 she worked virtually as a tutor to adults around the world learning English as a second language, wrote and performed a dozen wedding ceremonies as a non-denominational officiant, and worked as a proofreader on 3 published works of fiction. She also volunteers as a patient escort for Planned Parenthood.
Director of Marketing & Communications
McKenzie received her Associates degree from ITT Technical Institute in Multimedia. She has over 20 years of experience in marketing, graphic design, and social responsibility.
Specializing and trained in documentary-based work, McKenzie has been an award-winning Midwest photographer and content creator for much of professional life. She is passionate about bridging unlikely communities and building empathy through storytelling.
Volunteer Relations Manager
Chantal is passionate about reaching and connecting with people. You'll often find her meeting with leaders in the community, visiting with students and families, and creating meaningful conversations with all who cross her path. All of these assets make her an incredible Volunteer Relations Manager for RISE.
A 2019 RISE Graduate, Chantal uses her lived experience to help encourage others. In addition to being a RISE graduate, she is an esteemed TedX speaker.
Director of Research & Evaluation
Erin Cooper, MS
Erin graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City with her Masters of Science in Criminology and completed her thesis studying the delinquent effects of placement instability among foster care youth in Kansas.
Over the past 10 years, Erin has served various non-profits and state organizations a multitude of capacities. Her roles include serving as high risk, re-entry parole officer in Kansas City, Kansas, managing juvenile assessments for the Johnson County (KS) Department of Corrections, and managing a group home for at-risk teens in Omaha, Nebraska.
Most recently Erin served as an Administrator of Workforce Services for the Nebraska Department of Labor where she managed 10+ federal grants requiring her to develop and evaluate program efficacy and compliance with federal regulations. Erin also successfully wrote two grants for the Nebraska Department of Labor bringing in over $2 million of federal dollars benefiting re-employment programs. She successfully implemented research and data driven best practices in several programs garnering national recognition from the United States Department of Labor.
Business Data Analytics Manager
Fred Collins, Jr.
Fred is a Nebraska native with several years experience in recruiting, sales, real estate, and public speaking. With a Communications degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Fred spent a number of years as an admissions counselor, transfer recruitment liaison, education talent search coordinator in higher education, in addition to being a highly successful Realtor.
A 2017 RISE graduate, Fred learned to use his incarceration as an opportunity to work through his past and further improve himself as an individual. “Programs like RISE helped me to realize my potential, and also my responsibility to the community. RISE has helped me be the change I want to see.”
In addition to cheering for his alma mater, Fred enjoys cooking, singing, and eating at Chick-Fil-A.
Director of Public Policy & Advocacy
Jasmine Harris, MPH, CHES
Jasmine brings 12+ years of experience to RISE that includes non-profit program management, community engagement, and coalition building. Most recently, Jasmine served as Co-Founder/CEO of WayMaker, LLC, an organization that motivates women and girls to overcome setbacks from being involved in the criminal justice system.
She also served as a Health Educator at Creighton University and as Civic Engagement Committee Chair for the Urban League of Nebraska Young Professionals, where she focused on advocacy and awareness around criminal justice issues. Jasmine received a Bachelor’s in Biology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a Master’s of Public Health from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In 2017, Jasmine was awarded the Omaha NAACP Freedom Fighter Award and was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans (TOYO) by the Omaha Jaycees.
Olivia Larson is the Lobby School Policy Fellow in partnership with the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table. Her role includes developing relationships between RISE and the Nebraska State legislature to pass meaningful and measurable criminal justice reform, particularly voting rights restoration and the elimination of cash bail.
She has 5 years of experience in advocacy, including past fellowships at Swing Left and Planned Parenthood, as well as organizing for several local campaigns. She is most passionate about the intersectionality of policy issues, and loves the collaborative nature of this work.
Olivia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a concentration in Inequality and Social Justice. She proudly served as a Board Member of the UNO Women’s and Gender Equity Center and as a Senior Undergraduate Consultant, presented a workshop to the International Writing Center Association on social justice in the writing center.
Samantha Kaase, MPA, MSW
Sam graduated with her Bachelor’s of Social Work from Indiana University and a dual degree, Master of Social Work and Master of Public Administration, from UNO.
While completing her Bachelor's degree, Sam interned in a Public Defender's agency where she helped individuals get released pre-trial into substance use and mental health services. During that time, Sam saw gaps in the system and specific barriers individuals that are incarcerated face. This sparked her interest in policy and advocacy work. Currently, Sam is finishing up her clinical practicum in the Sarpy County Jail, where she co-leads therapeutic groups, provides re-entry services, and one-on-one support.
Sadie graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Political Science and Social Behavioral Sciences with a minor in legal studies and is completing her Masters of Science in Criminology. Not only does she excel in academic writing and high levels of communication, Sadie spent time working at an immigration law firm and completed an internship for Iowa Juvenile Court Service.
Jon is a family man and a man of faith. He loves sports and doing adventurous things (at least once). As a former incarcerated individual, he wants to give back and help those in need. He desires to lead the lost and show the world that people can change for the good.
Jon has experience in property, shipping, and store management.
Director of Annual Giving & Stewardship
Emma has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Nebraska at Omaha. She brings years of experience working with local nonprofits like the ACLU of Nebraska, Women’s Fund of Omaha and The Bay. In 2020, Emma helped coordinate a historic $250k voter education campaign focused on traditionally marginalized voters. This diversified and widely successful campaign led to record voter turnout in Nebraska.
Most recently, she has ventured into the startup world and launched Modus Coworking, a coworking space designed to empower women and minority-owned businesses. By utilizing her strong connections, she leased over 60% of the space in just six months. Through these experiences, she’s discovered her true passion is in connecting others and cultivating strong community relationships.
Director of Programs
Maria received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Over the past 10 years, Maria has served in a variety of roles in organizations addressing social justice, community development, and community engagement issues. Most recently, Maria worked as Country Manager & Interim Volunteer Program Manager for the FutureSense Foundation in Cambodia. At FutureSense she managed day-to-day operations including developing sustainable community health and education programs, organizing logistics over 11+ project sites, cultivating strong community relationships, monitoring evaluation of projects, and developing and managing budgets.
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Director of RISE Business Academy
Dr. TJ Dickson
Email Dr. TJ.
Dr. TJ Dickson has earned her Doctorate in Metaphysical Science and Bachelor's and Master's degrees in both Business Administration and Metaphysical Science and certificates in Law of Attraction Coaching and Corporate Wellness. She started Taraji, LLC, a business and personal holistic wellness organization, in 2012.
She also owned a successful accounting service for 19 years. She has coached, consulted, taught, or trained over 400 adults in business, accounting, math, wellness, healing, and career preparation. Her mission is to empower others to heal, transform, and be well to live their best lives.
Director of Family Programs
Geri Knight, coming to us from One Heart Project, a national nonprofit that works with justice-involved youth. Geri launched the Nebraska chapter and served as the State Director for the last 2.5 years. Prior to that, she worked at NDCS in a couple different roles, always putting herself in positions where she could advocate for and improve the system for those who we serve.
Geri brings a wealth of experience and education, with a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management and a Master's degree in Public Administration. Geri's top strengths are Achiever, Strategic, Discipline, Responsibility, and Learner. She loves to work with others to achieve goals.
Family Programs Intern
Maeve Hemmer (she/her) is a senior at the University of Nebraska Omaha studying political science with minors in human rights and criminal justice. She is from Lincoln, Nebraska and has one younger sister who will be a freshman at Willamette University in the fall.
Maeve has a passion and vision for helping our community deliver transformative justice that supports people toward achieving and maintaining holistic wellbeing. She plans to attend law school and ultimately use her education and experiences to solve issues impacting Nebraskans.
Prison Program Associate
Bryan has been a business owner, owning and operating 3 different businesses which included a commercial roofing business, landlord of rental properties, and a Scooter’s Coffee Shop. He would eventually step out of the self-employed world to work for Olsson Associates, a national civil engineering firm, for 10 years, only then to be called into a Protestant pastorate serving two local churches.
Upon ministering to families, men, women and children, Bryan grew a deep love for his diverse group of neighbors and developed a food sharing ministry collaborating with Community Crops. In addition to his local work, Bryan also served in Russia and Mexico over the fourteen-plus years he served as a pastor/elder.
Bryan would finally serve as the Director of Operations for Catholic Social Services before joining the RISE staff. He has always found a way to serve others which he continues to do today as a Vincentian at Sacred Heart Church and the President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Lincoln.
Bryan is currently teaching in the Nebraska State Penitentiary and the Reception and Treatment Center.
Prison Program Associate
Dr. Tommy Moore
Dr. Thomas Moore (aka Dr. Tommy) has a Ph.D. in Business Administration (Financial Management) with over twenty years experience working in recovery and life coaching. After serving nine years and three months in the Florida Department of Corrections, he brings his lived experience and zeal for "withness" to the reentry workspace.
Dr. Tommy shines when working with people ready to put effort into taking steps needed for positive and productive change. Through accountability, the focus on one's well-being, and SMART goals for healthy living, he has seen hundreds of lives changed.
In his free time, Dr. Tommy enjoys weight lifting, swimming, deep sea fishing, and spending time in nature. A fun fact about him is one leg is slighter shorter than the other, so that swagger in his walk? He's turned a so-called "defect" into a strength.
Prison Program Associate
Heather has a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Dana College with over 20 years of experience in hospitality revenue management. Living life as an adventure, Heather took advantage of the opportunities throughout her career to live and work in multiple cities across the U.S., ranging from San Francisco, CA, to Jacksonville, FL.
During her time in hotel revenue management, Heather managed a team, facilitated weekly meetings, conducted classroom training, and mentored new managers. She quickly became the person people talked to about their personal and professional concerns. Always knowing she wanted to do more, Heather retired from her hospitality career to pursue her passion for helping others.
Director of Reentry Services
Erica Raetz, MSW
Erica received her Bachelor’s in Social Work with a minor in Criminal Justice from Texas Christian University (TCU). She recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s in Social Work (MSW).
While pursuing her BA, Erica served as a Jail Advocate for The Net, visiting women in jail, and providing resources such as job training, education, and housing. She also worked as a Research Assistant at TCU’s Department of Social Work, where she performed statistical analysis to determine the effects of supportive housing, and as a Rape Crisis Advocate at The Women’s Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Most recently, Erica served as a Special Victims Counselor at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she provided supportive counseling, court accompaniment and case advocacy for victims of violent crime.
Director of Employment Services
December has worked with organizations such as Urban League of Nebraska, Youth Links and Juvenile Probations. Most recently, she was a Development Manager with Cox Communications. December gained an interest and passion for this work while working closely with High Risk Juveniles in the community. During that time, while earning her degree in Criminal Justice, December instructed and taught several courses on employment skills, blending personal and professional development.
Over the last few years she has presented on three national calls where she presented to Corporations on how to ensure they retain employees, demonstrating the value and the importance of continuous development. She is excited to join the RISE team, where she can blend her passion for the development of other individuals and closing the gap on unfair employment practices.
Jason Kotas involves himself in the community by being an active member of his Church, St. James United Methodist, East Campus in Bellevue NE, locally co-facilitating weekend workshops for the Alternative to Violence Project, and sharing his experience, strength, and hope at area treatment facilities and other venues.
Mr. Kotas would like you to know that he has not always been this version of himself, as he initially got involved with RISE while he was a resident of the Omaha Correctional Center. He graduated from RISE’s inaugural cohort at OCC, stayed involved as a Peer Facilitator until he was transferred to Community Corrections. Today, Jason is living a life that a few years ago he would not have dared to dream about, thinking that his time had come and gone to ever live a life that was meaningful and fulfilling. By finally taking responsibility for his own life, he has risen up out of the ashes that were once his reality, and is dedicated to helping others rise up out of their own.
Cody comes to RISE with a background in peer support work at Salvation Army and Nebraska Family Support Network, and most recently was working at Drake Williams Steel. Cody is passionate about using his story and lived experience to empower and help others.
Aaron is a husband, father, brother, author, minister, and now RISE Family! After 16.5 years of incarceration, he's out in the community looking to make a difference. While inside He worked as a GED tutor for years, led an evangelistic ministry, took college courses in various areas and read over 1,000 books. He's not afraid of hard work and loves to grow.
Aaron loves to write - he has published two books and has a third coming out soon (check him out at aaronpettesspeaks.com)! Aaron said "I can't wait to get into the fields with y'all! It's not very often that purpose, passion and opportunity coalesce but I believe in this case it has happened."
Olivia is an active service member in her community and she has a passion for helping others - specifically women in recovery. She has experience working with multicultural outreach programs and substance abuse programs for women and their children, and she volunteers at YRTC and holds service positions in a recovery program locally as well as state-wide.
Additionally, she is a non-traditional e-commerce health & wellness, business owner. While serving time at Nebraska Correctional Center for Women, she graduated from RISE in 2020. Amongst other self-building classes, she began to find who she was and her purpose. With personal experience of addiction and incarceration, it is her mission to help others create a life worth living and give back to the community that has welcomed her with open arms.
Eric was born in Philadelphia, PA, but spent much of his life in Oakland, CA. He is currently a resident of Lincoln. Over the years he's held a number of jobs, including positions at FedEx and being a licensed barber. Eric had some personal battles that landed him in prison. While there, he became part of the RISE program - he was in our very first cohort at NSP, then was a peer facilitator, and was part of the RBA when he got out.
Through RISE programming, he implemented a van service that would transport family members to prison to visit their loved ones. This program won Eric a grant to get the program off the ground. Sadly, due to COVID, visiting was halted, therefore the van service was also halted. After his release from prison, he vowed to never go back because he had a family to care for. He found work at Schneider Electric and moved up the ladder there. Eventually, Eric decided to pursue his dream to help others who made mistakes in life get their life back on track, which is what leads him to us as a Reentry Specialist today.
Tori is a current student at the University of Nebraska Omaha studying sociology and nonprofit management. When they aren’t studying, they are probably rewatching Abbott Elementary episodes.
Tori is from Omaha, and has a passion for being in community and of service to others. They have a background in mentoring, crisis counseling, and visitation services.
RISE Board of Directors
RISE Board President
Senior Analyst, Bridges Trust
RISE Founder & CEO
President, Western Media Group Lee Enterprises
Senior Vice President, Operations, Dundee Bank
Business & Ecosystem Development, Paul G. Smith Associates, LLC
Dr. Mark Foxall
Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska Omaha
Wallace (Todd) Johnson
Government Affairs, Tenaska
Owner, Leaving Well Consulting
Co-Owner, David Loren Construction
Sr. Manager of Learning & Development, Connectbase
Founder, You Go Girl
General Manager, Customer Service First Exteriors
Growth Equity Investor, McCarthy Capital
President, TTC Enterprises
RISE Board Ambassador
RISE Board Chairman Emeritus
Peter Kiewit Sons', Inc.
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