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Joey Gaines

Congratulations to Joey for being named 2014 TOYO (Ten Outstanding Young Omahans) Recipient.

Tell us about your family?

I have been married to my high school sweetheart, Adam, for 17 years.  We have 5 kids:  Jack 15, Lucy 14, Vivien 11, Jay 10, Eddie 9.  We are a foster family and three of our kids were adopted from the foster system.


Of course I have pets J  We have Tex, a dog I brought home from an ultrasound training class in Texas, Tinkerbell, a Chihuahua a client begged me to take, and Scarlett, a cat we were given to take care of when she was 3 days old.


I grew up in Omaha until the beginning of high school, when we moved to Salina, Kansas.

CollegeKansas State for both undergrad and veterinary school

Sorority: Delta Delta Delta

Job/Business:  Owner and veterinarian at Ridgeview Animal Hospital, owner at Walnut Creek Veterinary Clinic

Joey Gaines Photo 3

Why did you join the Junior League?

I joined the Junior League of Omaha to learn more about agencies serving the Omaha community and to become an active volunteer.

What was your favorite placement and why?

I have loved both of my committees!  I became very involved in A Book of My Own as a new member and continued on that committee for two active years.  I love the busy work and the impact it has on individual lives in our community.  Now on Done-In-A-Day, it is great to get out in the community and do work!  I feel I have been placed right where I belong all of my years in the League so far.

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 Nancy Whitted

Tell us about your family?  I’ve been married 42 years to my attorney husband Warren.  We have two children – Kristin and Warren III.  Kristin and her husband Shawn live in Indianapolis and have three children – Kaitlin – 11, Megan – 8, and Will – 6.  Our son Warren will be married in May to fiancée Christina Dunham.

Hometown:  Fairmont, NE

CollegeUniversity of Nebraska at Lincoln

Sorority:  Gamma Phi Beta

Job/Business: I taught Kindergarten until I had children.  I was a stay at home Mom and did some substitute teaching for several years.  I worked part time for the Children’s Scholarship Fund for nine years.  I volunteered for many organizations and enjoyed every minute of it!

Why did you join the Junior League? 

Growing up in out-state Nebraska, I wanted to become involved in the Omaha community and make new friends.

What was your favorite placement and why? 

Puppets.  Every week was different – performing at elementary schools all over the metro.

What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? 

Meeting and marrying my husband and moving to Omaha.

What is your favorite thing about living in Omaha? 

There is so much to see and do with the wonderful array of restaurants, museums, the Henry Doorly Zoo, Lauritzen Gardens and Omaha Community Playhouse to name a few.

What are your favorite restaurant(s) in Omaha? 

Jam’s, Taxi’s, Omaha Prime, Pasta Amore

What other organizations are you affiliated with?

Immediate Past President of the Joslyn Art Museum Association and current board member; JLO Foundation – President-Elect; Omaha Community Playhouse – Act II –  Past President and current member of the 90th Anniversary Committee; Omaha Town Hall member and Past President; Gamma Phi Beta Sorority Alumnae Group – Past President;  AK-SAR-Ben Friends – Past President;  Durham Museum – On Track Guild – current Parliamentarian; Lauritzen Gardens Antique & Garden Show and a current member of the Archbishop’s Committee for Education.  I have also served on the AK-SAR-BEN Women’s Ball Committee and the Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball Committee and am a past chairman of the Arthritis Woman of the Year Gala.

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Brenda Smith

Tell us about your family?  I have a husband, Nic.

Hometown:  Gresham, Nebraska

CollegeNebraska Wesleyan University

Sorority:  Willard Sorority

Job/Business: Attorney at Koley Jessen P.C., L.L.O.

Smith_Brenda (1)

Why did you join the Junior League? 

I recently moved to Omaha for my job and joined the League to meet new people and learn about the Omaha community.

What was your favorite placement and why? 

My favorite placement was serving as American Girl Fashion Show chair.  I learned so much during that placement, including planning a large fundraiser, coordinating and working with outside vendors and donors, and ensuring that everything was completed in preparation of the event.  It was certainly one of my challenging placements, but also the most rewarding.

What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? 

I interned at the Supreme Court of the United States for one semester and two summers during college.  The Court was an amazing experience, but I also learned so much about myself being exposed to other cultures and viewpoints in Washington, D.C.

What is your favorite thing about living in Omaha? 

It feels like a small town with the amenities of a big city.

What are your favorite restaurant in Omaha?

Lot 2

What other organizations are you affiliated with? 

Fontenelle Forest, Completely Kids

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Connecting with…

Phyllis Choat

Tell us about your family: 

Norm and I have been married 45 years. He is a retired Spanish teacher. We are so fortunate that our children Laurie and Eric live in Omaha. Our daughter Laurie Webb and her husband Andy have two children, Bella (8) and Drew (6). Eric is single and works at TD Ameritrade. We love to babysit!

Hometown: Omaha

College: University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Sorority: Gamma Phi Beta

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Barn Bash and Chili Cookoff

For many League Members, the Barn Bash has become a favorite fall tradition. Active member Lexie Frahm and her husband Shane graciously hosted the “friendraiser” at their home in Gretna for the second year.

One of the highlights of the event is a chili cook-off, which was done anonymously for the first time. In the end, Active member Alysia Radicia took home the coveted prize, the $150 pot created by cook-off entry fees and more importantly, bragging rights until next year’s event.

Attendees also enjoyed s’mores by the bonfire, a competitive game of bingo as well as a night of socialization and fun.

We asked Alysia to share her secrets; you can find that below!

Alysia Radicia (1)

Personally, I love food. And I especially love food when it is paired with friends, bingo, and fall weather – so the Barn Bash is my jam. Last year I participated in the cook-off but made a chili that was far too spicy for the audience. The buffalo chicken chili is still one of my favorites but I knew if I was going to win this year I needed an option that would have greater appeal to the judges. Wanting a chili that is delicious but still interesting was a challenge. I was chatting with one of my coworkers and he shared this recipe with me. He and his family are Filipino and have loved this recipe for many years. With strict instructions he directed me to the Asian Market on 78th and Dodge to purchase the Longaniza Sausage. This is the make or break ingredient of the chili. To help any future cooks, here’s a plan of its exact location in Asian Market. I only include this because I initially picked up the wrong sausage and was wildly disappointed. I would hate for anyone else to do the same. Also, I’m a designer and can’t help myself sometimes. With all the being said, all other ingredients are easy to find and come together to create the 2014 Barn Bash Chili Cook-Off Winner. If there are any questions any aspiring cooks have please let me know – I would be more than happy to share all my mistakes with you to help you out in the future.


Homemade Chili Con Carne with Hot Pork Longaniza Sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)

1 medium onion, chopped finely

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 small can pimiento, diced

1 package of Hot Pork Longaniza Sausage, sliced diagonally

1/2 pound ground beef

1 (14 -ounce) can cooked red beans

1 (14-ounce) can stewed diced tomatoes

4 tablespoons tomato paste

2 bay leaves

2 stalks cilantro, chopped (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

olive oil for drizzling (optional)

cilantro leaf for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat oil in a saucepot. Add cumin in the hot oil. Add onions, garlic, and diced pimiento; saute until tender for 5 minutes.
  1. Cook sausage with 3⁄4 cup water in separate pan over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Let sausage cool and slice, set aside.
  1. Add ground beef and stir together in sauce pot cook for 5 minutes.
  1. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, and cilantro. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
  1. Season with salt, sugar, and pepper; cook for another 5 minutes. Place sausage on top of chili. Drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with a cilantro leaf.

Serves around 6. Prep Time 45-60 minutes.

Sailing the Seven Seas

Cruise Ball 1936

These Junior League women took part in the Junior League Cruise Ball at the Fontenelle Hotel in October 1936. Costumed to represent steamships are left to right: Kathryn Hosford as George Washington; Mrs. John Byrne as the Bremen; Harriet Kelly, the President Coolidge; Jean Dudley Gallagher as the Ile de France and Mrs. Hearne Christopher as the Empress of Russia.

Reprinted with permission from the Omaha World-Herald. This photo was part of the history in the 2006 Toast to Omaha A Cookbook Presented by the Junior League of Omaha.

Connecting with …

Chaley Chandler (1)

Tell us about your family? Married to my husband Eric for 8 years with 2 children – Blake (daughter) who is 5 and Peyton (son) who is 2.


Hometown: Omaha

College: University of Kansas

Sorority: Kappa Delta

Job/Business: Owner of Chocolate Peacock Boutique and CP2U


Why did you join the Junior League?

I actually joined the League because my job at the time was making all of the sales people be involved in at least one networking group.  I was sick of all the other network groups that I had tried so I found Junior League’s website and asked my boss if that would count.  He obviously said yes.  I ended up loving my experience with Junior League and even after leaving that job, I knew that I would be here to stay! Continue reading “Connecting with …”

What’s in a name?

When attending a Junior League of Omaha event, if you say Megan or Sarah, you will likely have several ladies turn around because 9% of our Active and New Members have one of these two names!

Sarah or Sara is one of the oldest names in existence and has remained popular over time.  During the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the name held single digit popularity. It is almost surprising that we only have 3 Sarah’s who are Sustainers in the Junior League of Omaha.  Continue reading “What’s in a name?”

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Jackie Conway 1

Jackie was recently name to the Midland Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. She was nominated for the award by the Junior League of Omaha’s nominating committee.

Hometown:  Omaha

College:  University of Colorado, Boulder

Sorority:  Kappa Alpha Theta

Job/Business:  Roots & Wings Jackie Conway 3

Family: Husband, Kevin and two kiddos. Sam(10-boy) & Aidan(8-girl)

Pets:   Thomas the Superdawg

Why did you join the Junior League?

A bunch of my friends and I joined the League at the same time because it was a great excuse to spend time together, while learning how to become stellar volunteers.

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Connecting with…

Megan RiebeHometown: Waukesha, WI

College: Creighton University

Sorority: Gamma Phi Beta

Job/Business: Director of Outpatient Services at a non-profit community mental health agency, OMNI Behavioral

Family: No children of her own, but her 3 nieces and nephew are the most wonderful little gems. Her “Omaha” family is 4 kids that she used to nanny for – now in high school and college.

Why did you join the Junior League?

“I honestly joined the Junior League because I wanted to meet women who have similar interests. And I’ve developed some of my greatest friendships along the way!”

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