Chris Sommerich was named Humanities Nebraska executive director effective Jan. 1, 2011. He joined the council as development officer in 2004, and became development director in 2007. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where as a graduate assistant he served as undergraduate adviser and teaching assistant in the political science department. Chris achieved a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification in 2007, which emphasizes the highest standard of ethical and professional conduct in fundraising. He served on the board of directors for the Nebraska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in 2005-2011 and as its president in 2010. In 2014 Chris was elected to the board of directors of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and he was a member of Class VII of Leadership Nebraska in 2014-15. He came to HN after four years of managing annual giving programs as development associate for Audubon Nebraska. Chris lives in Lincoln with his wife, Vicki, and two sons, Eli and Benjamin.
402-474-2131 ext. 105
Barbara Grant, Office and Grants Assistant, joined Humanities Nebraska in March 2012 as Program and Communications Assistant. She has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Troy University-Florida Region. She is pursuing a Master of Business Administration. She began her non-profit career at Indian Center, Inc., as trainer, and then project director. Barbara served four years in the U.S. Air Force. She enjoys reading, going to movies, playing board games and spending time with family and friends.
402-474-2131 ext. 102
Erika Hamilton, Director of Literary Programs, joined Humanities Nebraska in February 2005. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and a master’s degree in English and creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is currently working toward a doctorate in American literature with an emphasis on Willa Cather. Erika serves on the board of directors for the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Literary Heritage Association. Her previous employment includes two years as administrative assistant to Nebraska’s lieutenant governor and proclamation assistant to the governor. Erika lives in Lincoln with her husband, their two children, and two cats.
Phone: 402-474-2131 ext. 104
SheriLynne Hansen, Communications Manager, joined Humanities Nebraska in February 2013. She has more than 20 years of experience in communications strategy, journalism, public relations, marketing and advertising, which she has put to work for numerous national, regional and local companies. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Drake University. SheriLynne and her husband Mark are raising their three children to appreciate Nebraska’s history, culture, literature and art in all forms.
402-474-2131 ext. 106
Kristi Hayek Carley
Kristi Hayek Carley, Program Manager, joined the Humanities Nebraska staff in October 2009. She is a fifth-generation Nebraskan and grew up on a farm south of Friend. She is a graduate of Concordia University in Seward, with a bachelor’s degree in education, and an emphasis in secondary education in the social sciences. Before joining the council staff, Kristi served as a deputy legislative assistant in U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson’s Washington, D.C., office and as a high school social studies teacher at Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, Ind. Since her return to Nebraska, she has substitute taught in the Lincoln area while pursuing graduate studies in political science and history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and taught a class in American government at Concordia University for a number of semesters. Kristi and her husband Matt live in Seward. She enjoys playing and watching a number of sports, shopping, music, traveling, and spending time helping out at the family farm.
402-474-2131 ext. 108
Julie MacDonald, Development Coordinator, joined Humanities Nebraska in June 2008. She attended Southeast Community College where she received an associate degree in secretarial technology. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in 1999 from Doane College in Lincoln. Julie has two dogs, Hercules and Bella. Throughout the year she stays busy trying to take in all the activities of her busy nieces and nephews—from baseball games to band concerts and history competitions. She enjoys vacationing, going to movies, playing games, reading and spending time with friends and family.
402-474-2131 ext. 110
Liz Makowski, Program Assistant, joined Humanities Nebraska in April 2012. Originally from the Kearney area, she has a Bachelor’s degree in Classics and Art History from the University of Nebraska -Lincoln. She received a master’s degree in Art History and Archaeology from the University of Missouri, where she worked as a graduate assistant in the Visual Resources Center. She enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
402-474-2131 ext. 101
Heather Thomas, Director of Development, joined Humanities Nebraska in April 2011. She works with board members and others to raise funds from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support HN’s programs. Heather graduated from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) with an interdisciplinary major in Russian studies, with coursework in Russian language, literature, art and history. Her professional work has centered on the arts and humanities and includes three years as membership coordinator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and 10 years in development at the University of Virginia, as director of development for the University’s School of Architecture and director of development for Historic Preservation. Since moving to Lincoln in 2005, Heather was previously the education director and grants coordinator for the Haydon Art Center (2006-2011), a non-profit arts center in the Haymarket. She served as a trustee of the Sheldon Art Association of the Sheldon Museum of Art from 2008-2014 and was chair of the education committee in 2013-14.
402-474-2131 ext. 107
Mary Yager, Associate Director, joined Humanities Nebraska in March 2005, bringing with her more than 20 years of experience in developing, managing and evaluating programs for the National Arbor Day Foundation. Mary has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She and her husband, Randy, live near Hickman. They have three sons and two granddaughters.
402-474-2131 ext. 103