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Omaha Magazine

From Pageants to Funding Projects: WIN Director Morgan Holen Finds Investing Success

May 23, 2023 02:52PM ● By Tamsen Butler
on the rise b2b june july 2023 morgan holen Women in Investing

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Among the many hats Morgan Holen has worn is a crown. In addition to being director for Women in Investing (WIN), a nonprofit that harnesses the combined power of women philanthropists to the benefit of the University of Nebraska system and other statewide initiatives, Holen also served as Miss Nebraska in 2021 and competed in the 100th anniversary Miss America pageant. 

The former contestant said investing in herself and in others through nonprofits, has paid great dividends both personally and professionally.

Holen grew up in Nebraska and graduated from Elkhorn South High School. “We used to call that the ‘new school,’ but you can’t claim that anymore,” she said with a laugh. “I lived in Omaha the majority of my life until I went to UNL.” She graduated from college during the pandemic and had to make the decision either to enter the workforce virtually or continue her education. And while returning to school was always a part of her plans, Holen decided to pursue her MBA immediately. (She anticipates graduating with her degree this winter.)

There was only one week between crowning the next Miss Nebraska and starting her role as the director of WIN. 

“It’s kind of funny how all the odd skills I gained in my time as Miss Nebraska translate into what I do now as the first-ever director of Women Investing In Nebraska,” she said. 

Since its founding 12 years ago, WIN has pooled members’ gifts and allocated $1.7 million to 22 organizations. WIN members find, vet, and vote on which organizations and projects to award grants, pursuing those that address important issues in the state. 

The executive role of WIN was a natural fit for Holen, as she’s now able to put her talent for networking and passion for philanthropy to use. 

“I get to work with a leadership team of volunteers who have had great experiences with WIN and who want to help guide WIN in where it should go,” she said. “I feel that I’ve really been able to take ownership, and they’ve given me opportunity [to pursue] any way that I see WIN growing. That’s really exciting. What an incredible place where women get to choose where their dollars go through philanthropy! 

“Coming out of my year as Miss Nebraska, I was exposed to so many great nonprofits throughout the state and I’ve also thought very highly of the University of Nebraska Foundation, even as a student,” she said. 

“I’ve seen what the power of education and scholarships can do for women. WIN started in 2011 with around 20 members and has grown close to 250 women, not just in Lincoln and Omaha, but across the state of Nebraska and outside of the state as well.”

Holen spends her days doing a variety of networking, from meeting women for coffee to discuss WIN and its mission, to presenting to businesses, to directing marketing and managing social media. And, of course, as a former pageant queen, she does it all with a certain grace and confidence.

“Morgan sees the big picture, focuses on the goals of the organization, and works collaboratively with both staff and volunteer leaders to strategize for success,” said WIN Chair Meg Lauerman. “She has elevated our communications and member engagement, which has helped WIN to realize great outcomes in creating a vibrant network of women who are focused on creating positive impacts through our collective philanthropy. WIN has members in their 20s through 90s, and Morgan relates well to each member with her positivity and great energy.”

Holen advises young women to “take advantage of ‘Nebraska nice’” and not to be afraid to network. “People are more willing to help you than you think. [They] want to help the next generation,” she asserted.

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This article originally appeared in the June/July 2023 issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  
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