By age 5, children's earliest interactions and environments have physically shaped much of the core brain architecture that supports cognitive and character skills for lifelong success. Skilled, capable parents and caregivers play a critical role in guiding childrens' early development at home, and in child care or preschool.
Targeted, high-quality investments in young children at risk produce more significant developmental outcomes and stronger social and economic gains than broader, less strategic, lower-quality investments.
Who Is First Five Nebraska?
First Five Nebraska is a team of professionals with combined experience in government relations, data analysis and strategic communications. We work to ensure that more of Nebraska's youngest, most vulnerable children begin life with the kinds of developmental experiences that set them on a path to becoming successful students and productive citizens.
As a resource to policymakers and the public, we:
Becky oversees our policy and communications work. She brings 25+ years of experience working as an aide in the Nebraska Legislature and U.S. Senate, advocating for the long-term health care industry and developing and administering a statewide program for the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services. She served a key role in a multiagency effort to restructure and redesign Nebraska's Health & Human Services system. Becky received a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Becky Veak, Director
As Office Manager, Megan ensures daily office operations run smoothly. She also assists the Policy and Communications team on projects and maintains our website's Nebraska Legislation page. Megan has more than 13 years' experience in administrative duties. Prior to joining FFN in 2012, she worked in retail management and the life insurance industry. She holds a B.S. in Family Consumer Sciences from Western Illinois University.
Meg Buse, Office Manager
Jen leads our policy team to advance fiscally responsible policies that close the achievement gap for Nebraska's youngest, most vulnerable children. She brings 10 years of experience in social work and has worked in Nebraska public policy for 15 years. Jen received an M.A. in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin, a Graduate Portfolio in Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies from the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service and a B.A. from Benedictine College where she was a Presidential Scholar. Jen is a Class IX graduate of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Leadership Nebraska.
Jen Goettemoeller, Senior Policy Associate
A recent transplant to Nebraska, Elizabeth has more than five years of public policy experience working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for Senator John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee. In these roles, Elizabeth worked on several pieces of legislation, including the annual National Defense Authorization Act, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act and the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act. Elizabeth received an M.B.A. from George Washington University and a B.A. in Political Science from Vanderbilt University. She and her husband, Rick, live in Lincoln.
Elizabeth Lopez Everett, Policy Associate
Ben leads our research and evaluation efforts. He works with the Nebraska Legislature and state agencies to inform effective early childhood policy. He has worked in the education arena in various capacities, including substitute teaching, supervising before- and after-school programs and as a research/evaluation specialist for the Nebraska Dept. of Education. Ben became interested in early childhood because of the wealth of mounting evidence about the importance of the first eight years of a child’s life. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Quantitative, Qualitative and Psychometric Methods at UNL. He has an M.A. in Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education and a B.A. in Psychology.
Ben Baumfalk, Policy Research Analyst
Mike leads our strategic communications work. He began his career in marketing and public policy communications at Nebraska Children and Families Foundation where he was involved in efforts to establish the Sixpence Early Learning Fund and develop NCFF's award-winning Rethink Your Reaction child abuse prevention campaign. He received a B.A. in English from the College of New Jersey in 1993.
Mike Medwick, Senior Communications Associate
Nancy's main focus is on our social media, website, newsletter and blog. She has worked as a book and magazine editor, copy editor for the Lincoln Journal and website editor for the Omaha World-Herald. Her work in Nebraska also has included editing and writing for the state library agency, state forest service and the Nebraska Supreme Court. Nancy received an M.B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a B.A. in English/Journalism from Colorado State University.
Nancy Hammel, Communications Associate