African-American Leadership Awards

Each year, the African-American Leadership Awards recognize the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans in our community who have made significant contributions to the City of Omaha in the following categories: Business, Community, Education, Faith, Government, Health, Young Professional (ages 21 to 39) and Youth (ages 16 to 18). The awards are presented by the Urban League of Nebraska Guild. | Learn more about the ULN Guild.

The 2017 AALA Honorees

The Urban League of Nebraska Guild is proud to announce the honorees for the 2017 African-American Leadership Awards:

Business Leader | Cort Bonner
Bonner is an Insurance and Financial Services Agent at Bonner Insurance Agency Inc., a customer-focused State Farm Insurance agency in Omaha. Bonner has supported various activities throughout North Omaha, including the Black College Tour and initiatives to improve student computer literacy.

Community Leader | Jami Anders-Kemp
Anders-Kemp is director of Omaha 360, an initiative of the Empowerment Network focused on reducing gun and gang violence and bringing peace and prosperity to every neighborhood in the City of Omaha. The collaborative includes more than 200 organizations from across the city.

Education Leader | Dr. Amber Williams
Dr. Williams is Director of Admissions at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which has experienced record-breaking enrollment in recent years. Dr. Williams is the mastermind behind the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy, which is housed in Omaha North High School with an additional cohort coming to Omaha South High School in the near future.

Faith Leader | Reverend Kenneth Allen
Since 2008, Rev. Allen has served as Senior Pastor at Zion Baptist Church, a historic congregation in Omaha. Rev. Allen has also served as an adjunct instructor and guest lecturer at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, teaching courses on Theology and Religion in Afro-America.

Government Leader | Judge Wadie Thomas Jr.
The Honorable Wadie Thomas Jr. is a judge at the Douglas County Separate Juvenile Court in Nebraska.  He joined the court in 1995 and is the first African-American male appointed to a judgeship in Nebraska.

Health Leader | Wayne Houston
Houston is Manager of Community Health Programs at the UNMC Center for Reducing Health Disparities. For 19 years, Houston has organized the Black Family Health and Wellness Association Health Fair, an event providing free health exams to more than 200 North Omaha residents annually.

Young Professional Leader | Jason Fischer
Fischer is Creative Director and Owner of Surreal Media Lab, a multimedia and marketing company, and a sought-after filmmaker in Omaha. His work has been shown at the Omaha Film Festival, and his documentary “Out of Frame: Unseen Poverty in the Heartland” – created in partnership with Omaha-based non-profit Together – won the bronze award at the 37th Annual Telly Awards.

Youth Leader | Jaden Wrightsell
Wrightsell is an academic scholar and star athlete at Omaha Northwest Magnet High School. She holds the school girls’ basketball records for career points and rebounds and girls’ volleyball record for career kills.  She is active in her church and volunteers frequently with organizations including the Salvation Army, Community in Action, the OPS Citizen’s Advisory Board, and more.

Click here to download a PDF of the press release. Visit the African-American Leadership Hall of Fame to view past recipients.

The African-American Leadership Awards Gala

The honorees will be recognized at a ceremony hosted the first Friday in June:

28th Annual African-American Leadership Awards Gala
June 2, 2017

6 p.m. Reception
7 p.m. Dinner & Awards Ceremony
Hilton Omaha Downtown | 1001 Cass St, Omaha, NE 68102

Join the Celebration

The Urban League of Nebraska Guild organizes the African-American Leadership Awards with the generous support of community members, businesses and organizations. Your support allows us the opportunity to recognize today’s African-American leaders and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. You can support AALA the following ways:

  • Become a Patron.
  • Make a donation.
  • Purchase tickets or a table.

Complete the online form below. Click here to download a form.

Important Dates

Please be mindful of the following due dates for your RSVP and any qualifying recognition:

  • April 21t | For Patron Recognition in the Official Invitation.
  • May 29th | For Patron Recognition in Event Program.
  • May 31t  | For RSVPs.

Complete the online form below. Click here to download a form.


For more information about AALA, please contact the Urban League of Nebraska Guild.

Fill out my online form.