Backed by 30 years of experience in economic development and chamber administration, David serves the Chamber mission — to increase business, investment and employment in Greater Omaha – with bold vision, comprehensive understanding and contagious enthusiasm. He, Chamber staff and volunteers work in earnest on behalf of more than 3,100 member businesses, encouraging their success – and a more prosperous Greater Omaha – by advocating for a strong business climate, creating opportunities for member visibility and business connections, pursuing investment and jobs for the region, strengthening leaders and the community, and enhancing the region’s brand and image.
Under David’s steady leadership, the Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership, Omaha’s regional economic development effort, has successfully landed 426 projects, representing 23,830 jobs and nearly $4.3 billion in capital investment since 2004.
David began his career in organizational leadership in Michigan in 1983 as president of the Monroe County Industrial Development Corporation and director of the Port of Monroe. He served 10 years in Indiana at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, first as vice president of economic development and then as president. His next assignment took him to South Carolina where he was president and CEO of the Greater Greenville Chamber of Commerce. David assumed his current role as president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber in October 2003.
David is a graduate of Dartmouth College with academic specialties in industrial location and environmental studies.
A few of Van's credentials:
- Over 100 sales and business awards
- Former TV and Radio talk show host
- Author of 3 books “Selling from the Heart”, “Common Sense Selling” and “Common Sense
- Selling Revised Edition”
- Inducted into Burke High Hall of fame
- UNO man of the year in 2000
- UNO Athletics Board of Directors since 1993
- Motivational and Inspirational speaker
- Appointed to The Omaha Planning Board in 2009
After growing up in Omaha and playing football at the University of Nebraska Omaha Van attended a real estate specialty school in Dallas Texas. He sold real estate in Dallas for 10 years before moving back home to Omaha in 1993. During the same year he started his own company, DEEB Realty, which he grew into one of the largest Real Estate firms in the Midwest with over 350 agents in only 15 years. Van sold DEEB Realty in 2009, and he currently travels the country inspiring and motivating sales people and business owners to be the best they can be.
Jeff Gordman served an 18-year tenure as president and CEO of Gordmans Stores Inc., which operated 95 everyday value-oriented department stores in 20 states, employed 5,000 associates and generated annual revenues of $620 million at the time of his retirement in 2014. Gordman sold the Company to a large private equity firm in 2008, continuing as CEO to lead an initial public offering of common stock in 2010 as well as a secondary public offering in 2012. During the last 3 years of his tenure as CEO, Gordman expanded the store base by 40% as well as positioned the Company to double in size with the addition of a 540,000 square foot state-of-the-art distribution center and a new corporate headquarters featuring a completely open, collaborative workspace design.
In 2012 Forbes magazine ranked Gordmans number 29 on its list of America’s 50 Best Small Companies based on growth in sales and earnings over the previous three-year period. In 2011 Mr. Gordman was the recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Central Midwest region. Gordmans was a recipient of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business award in 2005 and 2008. Gordmans was also honored as the Nebraska Retail Federation’s 2005 Retailer of the Year.
Bruce is currently CEO of Proxibid, Inc., an internet auction service provider. He has previously served as a member of the MSI, Inc. Board of Directors, and between 1971-1993, he was Founder and President of Homer’s, Inc., a music retail chain and distribution company based in Omaha. His past experience and current role as CEO of Proxibid, Inc. allow him to provide insight in retail, technology, and financial matters.
Throughout his tenure, Todd has served in leadership positions related to Gallup’s global activities and operations. Currently, he is leading a new initiative focused on identifying and engaging high potential entrepreneurial talents in a given ecosystem or geography. Nowadays, he also serves as the Governing Board Chairperson of the Greater Omaha Business Ethics Alliance and is involved in a number of nonprofit and community development boards.
While Todd received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in New York and his master’s degree from the London School of Economics, he now lives in Omaha with his wife and their three sons.
With DTN Energy, Karen leads the sales team, working with customers to deploy supply chain efficiencies, including credit and inventory controls, terminal order reservations, online rack contract creation, real-time electronic bill of ladings and market news and analytics.
She spent 9 years with Exxon Company, USA in both fuels and lubes marketing. Prior to coming to DTN Energy, she was the West Coast Sales Manager for FuelQuest. In 1991, she graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering, and in 1999, she received her MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jim leads a small business banking team throughout Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missiouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota. He is specialized in meeting the deposit and credit needs of businesses with $20MM in revenue or less.
Mary Ann O’Brien
Since 2001, O’Brien and her team have worked with some of the most respected and admired brands in the retail, digital convergence and wireless industries, helping them to craft everything from big picture strategy to tactical integration and execution. She has been tapped by some of the most successful brands in the world to help steer their strategic direction. She has led national and global strategic initiatives for Intel, Microsoft, Sony, Gateway, Viewsonic, D-Link, Advanced Auto Parts, AT&T (formerly CellularOne), SAC Federal Credit Union and Miller Electric among others.
As a pioneer in the study of customers, she authored the O’Brien Voice of the Customer™ study that has served as the foundation for numerous business success stories globally, nationally and locally within the Omaha metro market.
Mary Ann earned a world-class education in how to build a brand and how to connect with the customer during her tenure at Gateway Computers. She worked in Mergers & Acquisitions and in Sales & Marketing, serving ultimately as Executive Vice President of Marketing during a time when Gateway was one of the most recognized consumer brands in the world.
An Iowa native, Mary Ann gravitated back to the Midwest and decided to put down roots in Omaha. She serves on the board of the Omaha Chamber, is the Chairperson of the Small Business Council for The Omaha Chamber, serves on the Women’s Leadership Council Board of Directors for the United Way of the Midlands, is a Cabinet Member of the University of Nebraska-Omaha business school, is a Board of Trustees Member for the Business Ethics Alliance and Board Director for the Halo Institute. Mary Ann was selected as a “40 Under 40” winner by the Midlands Business Journal and regularly speaks to business groups on marketing, entrepreneurialism, customer centricity and branding topics.
A native Omahan, Jeff is driven to connect individuals to spur new ventures, playing a role in shaping the region into a wealth of talented and entrepreneurial minds. Previously, Jeff worked as the Director of Innovation & New Media for the AIM Institute, an organization which provides IT leadership to Nebraska and the surrounding region. Jeff has worked in the philanthropic technology arena for the last 14 years, focusing on developing corporate philanthropic and volunteer programs for nonprofits, universities and corporations.
William "Willy" Theisen
Willy is a restaurant entrepreneur from Omaha, Nebraska who has had a remarkable string of success. He is currently the founder of Pitch Pizzeria in Omaha, a coal-fired, thin-crust pizzeria. Previously, Willy was the founder and former owner of Godfathers Pizza, a popular pizzeria chain that has locations in over 40 states. After selling Godfather’s, he worked his magic again buying and selling GB Foods (Green Burrito). He also was Famous Dave’s first pure franchisee, winning operator awards and guiding it in new directions.
Originally joining Bland & Associates, P.C. after college, Jeremy returned in 2006. As the firm’s Shareholder overseeing the administration of the audit department. His role as a leader draws on his array of knowledge and skills in a variety of areas and services to maintain and accelerate streamlined operations and excellence in client care. A continued practice of hands-on client services allows Jeremy to provide the highest quality consulting services he believes are not available anywhere else. Although he works with a variety of clients, he specializes in construction, manufacturing, and service industries.
During the past decade of his career, he has garnered managerial experience at two other prominent local firms, where he prepared tax returns, performed audit work, provided various consulting services, and led a construction group. To Bland & Associates, P.C., he brought his acquired expertise and leadership skills to influence and compliment the firm’s growth and development. His determination to put the client’s interests above all else and seek customized solutions to fulfill their needs upholds the firm’s values and inspires those around him.
Currently, Jeremy is establishing his niche through his ability to develop innovative procedures and solutions for clients that streamline their finances and operations, ultimately improving his client’s business structure and bottom line. For instance, Jeremy redeveloped one client’s entire bidding and billing system to create a personalized indirect cost allocation system that allowed them to accurately assess their overall profitability. His unique perspective and passion for quality client services are an asset to the firm and businesses he consults.
Since the seventh grade, Widman has been inventing products and coming up with innovative ideas. His most successful invention is BallStar, a technique for printing full-color images onto objects curved in more than one direction, such as Christmas ornaments, baseballs, footballs and other sports balls. He has three U.S. Patents along with numerous international patents, copyrights and trademarks for this process. His company, Star Innovations, dba BallStars, has sold specialized printing equipment and licensed the printing process in countries all over the world.
Widman has an impressive collection of baseball memorabilia that he shares with his two sons, Andrew and Jay and his grandson Reece. He enjoys lecturing on "The Process of Inventing" and being an entrepreneur. He now invents and collects in Leawood, Kansas.
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