Mar 13, 2019 04:43PM
By Kirby Kaufman
Liz Codina’s genuine passion for community stems from her upbringing in Omaha. It is the place she calls home, and that is important to her. It makes even more sense that she brings these values to her job at the Peter Kiewit Foundation.
As a program officer, the 27-year-old woman works closely with those who seek project funding from the nonprofit, which supports community growth in the Omaha metro. Since its founding in 1979, the Peter Kiewit Foundation has awarded more than $640 million in grants and scholarships to help build up its surrounding community.
“I love this community,” Codina says. “My time at UNO really helped me develop a huge passion for community engagement and the work nonprofits do.”
Born to immigrant parents in El Paso, Texas, Codina moved to Omaha at age 4. She attended Bellevue Elementary School, eventually transferring to Westside Community Schools. In college at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, she studied political science and foreign affairs.
As a UNO employee, Codina managed a team of six people at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center. Along with working at the Peter Kiewit Foundation, she serves as president of the South Omaha Business Association and vice president of the Metro Young Latino Professionals Association.
Jeff Kutash, CEO of the Peter Kiewit Foundation, says Codina brings an “incredible background to their team.” He adds that her nonprofit experience before joining the organization will help her succeed in the world of philanthropy.
“It makes her a better program officer,” Kutash says. “We are very much a community-based organization. She calls Omaha home, and that’s important.”
At the foundation, Codina manages Art Stock and two capacity seminars across the state, Building Innovation Capacity and Fundraising School.
“It lets me learn about communities across the state,” she says.
In addition to working with Nebraska community members, Codina says the foundation expands 100 miles into Iowa. This allows them to better explore areas for potential investments in quality of place amenities.
“It’s a great opportunity to give back to my community,” she says. “I want to shed light on groups that have been marginalized in our communities and to focus on that diversity and equity dialogue.”
Codina says her personal mission coincides with the organization’s. It is to create opportunities for people to live in and build strong, vibrant communities. She works with members of the community to make sure they submit eligible and fundable applications.
“The organization supports their local efforts to build what they see as a thriving community,” says Codina, who joined the nonprofit in February 2018.
Her other work at the foundation includes helping youths succeed in their education and help secure meaningful employment. She also cares about issues that affect Latinos. Through networking at UNO, she met with local leaders, who, she says, served as great mentors.
“To me, Omaha is home because this is the community I know that I love,” she says. “I have been helped along on my journey, and I want to do that for other people.”
Visit peterkiewitfoundation.org for more information.This article was printed in the April/May 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.