Assistant Vice President
Heartland Family Service
Omaha, Neb., is an incredibly ethnically diverse community, with over 115 languages spoken in the public school system. However, the city sees a highly disproportionate number of Latinx immigrant and African and Asian refugee groups living in poverty, and has some of the highest poverty rates for black children in the country. It’s undeniable that poverty, race, and health are connected. Oftentimes, approaches to addressing poverty are developed for communities of color by looking through a needs-based lens that asks “What are the gaps?” The people making the decisions and controlling the resources in these situations are typically not those from the communities themselves. This leads to ineffective and dangerous systems that create and perpetuate inequities. In order to impact sustainable change at a community level, approaches to address poverty must be culturally responsive and community-driven. Switching to an asset-based approach that is led by community members allows for approaches that are strengths-based, innately culturally appropriate, and have a greater impact on health equity.
MORE ABOUT NICKY
Nicky was born and raised in Omaha in one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the state. She grew up in a working-class household in an interracial family. Due to these experiences, she has been acutely aware of inequities from a very young age. This is what led her to the social work field and laid the foundation for her interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nicky’s career has been focused on ensuring human service programs are culturally responsive, and she’s viewed in her community as a subject matter expert on cultural intelligence. Most recently, Nicky has been focused on place-based strategies and the concept of co-creating with community to address social determinants of health within marginalized populations and neighborhoods. She has been most excited to see how all her past work around culturally responsive programming and her current work in the place-based space are constantly interplaying.