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:
Jason oversees our policy and communications work. He previously was External Affairs Manager at the Nebraska Dept. of Transportation where he helped grow relationships with elected officials, local governments, community organizations and citizens. A Crete native, Jason returned home after spending several years in Washington, D.C., serving in senior positions for U.S. Senator Ben Nelson, including Legislative Director and as a senior policy advisor. He also was Chief of Staff to the CEO at the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners, the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization. Jason received a B.S. from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where he double-majored in Political Science and Communication Studies.
Jason Prokop, Director
Before joining First Five Nebraska, Amanda spent seven years working for the State of Nebraska in various office management capacities. The past four years she was Administrative Assistant to the Nebraska Children's Commission where she managed and organized the operations of the advisory body as it worked toward reforming the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. It was in this position that Amanda recognized a passion for using her skills to aid in advocating for Nebraska's children. She has a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Amanda Felton, Office Manager
Elizabeth leads the policy team and FFN's efforts to promote early childhood as a key economic development principle for the state and communities. Prior to moving to Lincoln, she lived in Washington, D.C., and worked for Sen. John McCain and the Senate Armed Services Committee. She 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.
Elizabeth Lopez Everett, Deputy Director, Public Policy Manager
Prior to joining First Five Nebraska, for more than six years Adam advocated for policies promoting the community inclusion, rights and autonomy of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He has served on numerous legislative teams and committees focused on these efforts. Adam became interested in early childhood policy through working with youth with disabilities, researching the impact of early interventions and raising children. He received an M.A. and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Adam Feser, Policy Advisor
Sara joined First Five Nebraska's policy team after serving eight years in the Nebraska Legislature representing District 9 in midtown Omaha. During her tenure in the Legislature, she served as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. Her policy work included health care, juvenile justice and child welfare. Prior to her service in the Unicameral, Sara worked as development director for OneWorld Community Health Centers and as staff attorney for the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition (now EverThrive). She received her J.D. from Loyola University in Chicago and a B.A. in History from Smith College in Massachusetts.
Sara Howard, Policy Advisor
Mike came to First Five Nebraska after spending more than 14 years as the economic development director in St. Paul, Neb., where he managed and coordinated retention, attraction and expansion efforts of the St. Paul business community. He has served in numerous local, regional and statewide organizations including Nebraska Economic Development Association (NEDA), South Central Economic Development District (SCEDD), Rotary and Central Nebraska Community Action Partnership (CNCAP). Mike received a B.A. in Communication Production from Hastings College.
Mike Feeken, Strategic Partnerships Advisor
Prior to joining First Five Nebraska, Katie worked to improve outcomes for Nebraska children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Most recently, as Research Director for the Foster Care Review Office, she oversaw data collection, analyzed available data and made recommendations to the legislature and Nebraska stakeholders for system improvement based on results. She has a passion for making data accessible and engaging for all, and uses skills gained in the classroom at UNL and as a faculty member at Eastern Illinois University to make complex research clear, relatable and applicable to policymakers. Katie is a McCook native; she received a Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a B.A. from Hastings College.
Katie Bass, Data and Policy Research Advisor
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, Strategic Communications Manager
Nancy's main focus is First Five Nebraska's digital communications, including social media, website, newsletters 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, Digital Communications Specialist
Alexis began her career in the nonprofit sector with the American Red Cross, and has experience developing and executing communications campaigns for clients in a diverse array of sectors, including government, energy, health, education, tourism and consumer products. She has an M.A. in Integrated Media Communications and a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Alexis Zgud, Strategic Communications Specialist
Becky leads our Policy Leadership Academy, a non-partisan initiative working with citizen leaders from across the state. 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 Dept. of Health & Human Services. She served a key role in a multiagency effort to restructure and redesign Nebraska's Health and Human Services system. Becky received a B.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Becky Veak, Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy Coordinator