Lincoln Style Setters: Four Hip Prairie Wolves Work to Keep Lincoln Beautiful

Mandi Miller and Eric Wendt, photos by Lane Hickenbottom

Lisa Lockman

Lisa LockmanPotter, professor, metal smith

Say “functional pottery,” and most people think of handmade saucers or coffee mugs. But Professor of Art Lisa Lockman knows pottery’s function goes beyond your morning coffee.

Pottery solves problems. Get enough handmade bowls together, and pottery can hold an entire community.

To prove it, Lockman coordinates Bowls for Backpacks events in support of the Food Bank of Lincoln. Local artists, students and enthusiasts make hundreds of bowls for the event. Supporters then choose a bowl to keep and enjoy a lunch of bread and soup together at the Story Student Center. (Next event: February 26.)

Funds then fill backpacks with food each week for kids who need them. The events have raised and rallied thousands for Lincoln’s fight against hunger.

“It brings NWU students and alumni, local schools and rehab patients together to keep low-income kids fed,” said Lockman. “Hunger works against their education. Hungry kids can’t concentrate. And education will be what pulls these kids out of poverty.”

Improving a kid’s report card is just one more function that a handmade bowl can hold.

Jenna (Palensky) Moghadam (’10)

Jenna (Palensky) Moghadam ('10)Music history grad student, NET Radio announcer

Most Nebraska Wesleyan alumni have never had the pleasure of meeting Jenna (Palensky) Moghadam. But many across the state are nonetheless familiar with her calm, resonant voice. Moghadam works for NET Radio, hosting classical music programming each Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. She also regularly substitutes on air throughout the day.

She graduated from NWU with a degree in vocal performance and is now a music history graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also teaches a music experience course.

Her plans include doctoral studies on the West Coast and a return to Lincoln where she feels at home. “Lincoln is a big small town,” she said. “It’s unique in all it has to offer people culturally, but also retains the small town atmosphere of caring and trust.”

Her career goals are rooted in research she did at NWU with Maxine Fawcett-Yeske in Ireland. She plans to start a nonprofit organization focused on helping Lincoln’s immigrants and refugees express themselves through music. “I want to be surrounded by music and culture my whole life.”

Sean Schmeits (’98)

Sean Schmeits (’98) Artistic director, the Haymarket Theatre

Tucked neatly between weathered brick buildings in downtown Lincoln, The Haymarket Theatre holds a treasure trove of talent and the flair typical of a much larger city’s art scene. Behind much of that talent is Sean Schmeits.

Schmeits studied theatre at Nebraska Wesleyan University and serves today as The Haymarket Theatre’s artistic director.

While you may not see him onstage, Schmeits plays a leading role in Lincoln’s growing presence in theatre.

Schmeits’s first love is children’s theatre; he enjoys watching kids grow confident as they transform from shy, timid wallflowers into performers who revel in the spotlight.

“When youth participate in theatre programs, they become part of a multigenerational community,” he said. “I’d love to see the Haymarket Theatre continue to thrive and impact people’s lives for many years to come.”

Nicole Dewald (’04)

Nicole Dewald ('04)Fashion entrepreneur, Duo Shoes

The ultra-chic downtown boutique will catch a Lincoln shopper’s eye from across O Street. Duo Shoes is a local, classy and affordable place to shop for a style that echoes the sidewalks of Manhattan. Inside the front windows you’ll find displays of the latest style of shoe most women didn’t think they could find in Lincoln. And behind those displays, you’ll find the women behind Duo Shoes.

Co-owner Nicole Dewald studied communication at Nebraska Wesleyan and found a full-time job after graduation. But it didn’t take long for her to realize that what she really wanted was to work for herself. With her best friend, Betsy Sperling, by her side, the duo laid the business plan for Duo Shoes. “We try and keep things really reasonable. We want every woman to be able to buy a great pair of shoes,” said Dewald. “It’s something I never thought I’d be doing. I love the freedom.”

Lincoln women no longer must drive as far as Kansas City for the perfect pair of boots. They can head to 13th and O instead. Because these boots are made for more than walking. They’re made for looking great, wherever you go.