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Omaha Magazine

Greater Omaha Chamber: Women in Leadership

Dec 03, 2020 10:01AM ● By David Brown
David Brown, president and CEO, Greater Omaha Chamber

 I would imagine that few readers, if any, know the name “Barbara Burt.” She passed away late in 2019; but, in her life, she was a devoted wife and mother. She was a pioneer in the legal world as the second female to graduate from the University of Michigan law school and first in her class. She was a dedicated civic leader, serving as president and chairman of both the Fort Wayne Community Foundation and the Foellinger Foundation. Barbara was one of the smartest, most gracious, and humorous people I have ever met; and she had a profound impact on me and my career.

I met Barbara while I was leading the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She was then head of the Fort Wayne Community Foundation and on my board of directors at the chamber. At this point, I had little or no experience with charitable foundations. Barbara schooled me in the arts of managing foundations and showed me the remarkable tool foundations could be in both supporting chambers of commerce and their work to build communities.

She was absolutely convinced that foundations were under-utilized vehicles for moving private and corporate dollars into the business of building communities. I could go on here with many anecdotes about Barbara, but she would think that unnecessary to make my point. My career experience is filled with strong leaders with names like Barbara, Patricia, Linda, Leslie, and Carmen. Each of them has been kind enough to share some of their wisdom and knowledge over the years. 

I know all of you could share similar examples. So, while you are browsing this publication that is dedicated to the strong women who lead in this community, think of those who made you who you are today, and give thanks for your good fortune.

This column was printed in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of B2B Magazine.