Board of Directors

Tri-Faith Initiative is committed to responsible and responsive governance for the benefit of its stakeholders.

Our Board includes 25 Directors. There are five representatives from each of the three faith partner congregations and ten local community representatives, all with strong ties to the Omaha community. Our work would not be possible without a strong, dedicated network of community representatives and volunteers.

The Board of Directors believes that communication is an important part of the governance process in carrying out its oversight duties of Tri-Faith Initiative.

Please direct your email correspondence to the Board Chair at:

Executive Committee

Rick MacInnes, Chair

Richard Heyman, First Vice Chair, Governance Chair 

Denise Bartels, Second Vice Chair

Abdul Mackie, Third Vice Chair

Hesham Basma, Secretary

Trisha Hoffman-Ahrens, Development Chair

Rev. Dr. Jenny Schultz-Thomas, Clergy

Board Members

Temple Israel

Rabbi Benjamin Sharff

Rabbi Benjamin Sharff joined Temple Israel in 2023. He is the son of Rabbi Robert and Linda Sharff.  He grew up in Houston, TX, where he was raised in the Reform Movement and regularly attended URJ’s Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, Texas. 
He graduated from the University of Texas in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He did his Graduate Studies in American History at Sam Houston State University and then attended Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati and was ordained in 2004. Prior to joining us at Temple Israel, Rabbi Sharff served congregations in Tucson, AZ; Baltimore, MD and Nyack, NY.  He is passionate about helping people explore their own Jewish journeys. He is also a Brickner Fellow and a passionate advocate for all things social justice. In addition, Rabbi has played rhythm guitar in several worship bands and is fan of movies, comic books, and baseball. Rabbi Sharff is happily married to Dr. Joy Sharff and together, they have three children Emily, Noah, and Alex.

Richard Heyman

Richard Heyman is an accomplished Information Technology Executive renowned for his adeptness in crafting innovative solutions to meet pivotal business objectives and harnessing market opportunities. With over 35 years of expertise in knowledge management and process reengineering, Heyman has consistently demonstrated his prowess in team leadership and motivation.

A seasoned entrepreneur, Heyman has played pivotal roles in founding, financing, and steering both software and consulting ventures towards success. His entrepreneurial journey is marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence and a keen eye for capitalizing on emerging trends. Heyman’s commitment to community service is evidenced by his extensive involvement in various local organizations. He currently serves in the capacity of First Vice Chair, Governance Committee Chair, and Executive Committee Member for the Tri-Faith Initiative Board of Directors. Since joining the board in 2022, Heyman has been committed to helping steer the organization toward its strategic goals.

His contributions extend to the Jewish Federation of Omaha, where he served as Chairman of the Governance Committee and held multiple roles on the Board of Directors, including Chairman of the Information Technology Committee. Heyman’s impact on the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce is also noteworthy, having been a member of various advisory groups focused on datacenter and existing business targets.

Heyman is proud of his longstanding involvement with other beloved organizations such as the Nebraska Humane Society, Omaha Children’s Theater, and Fontenelle Nature Association, where he held board positions and actively contributed to strategic planning and financial oversight.

Ilene Arnold

Dr. Ilene D. Arnold has lived in Omaha for 21 years. She became involved in Tri-Faith Initative after she retired in September 2019 and started volunteering in the Tri-Faith Initiative Garden and Orchard when COVID-19 left few safe volunteer opportunities. Her volunteer work at the garden motivated her in 2021 to become an Extension Master Gardener with the UNL Douglas/Sarpy County extension office. Ilene is currently a member of the Temple Israel Board of Trustees and part of the Building and Grounds Committee. Prior to her retirement, she spent 27 ½ years as Public Health Veterinarian with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) protecting public health by ensuring meat, poultry, and egg products were safe for human consumption. Dr. Arnold received numerous awards during her career, including special commendations award, Administrator’s Group Honor Award for Excellence and a Merit Award for Supervisory Excellence. 

Prior to working for FSIS, Dr. Arnold worked for IDEXX Laboratories in Maine as a poultry Veterinarian technical expert for their Flockcheck® product line traveling throughout North and South America. Besides her VMD in veterinary medicine, Ilene also has a master’s degree in animal pathology from the University of Rhode Island, and completed a 2-year residency in Avian Medicine and Pathology at the University of Pennsylvania. She was awarded the E.L. Stubbs Award in Avian Medicine upon her graduation from veterinary school.


Brian Fahey is a partner at the law firm of Fraser Stryker PC LLO, where he practices primarily civil litigation and advises non-profit and charitable organizations. He is an active member of Temple Israel with his wife and two young daughters. Prior to law school, Brian worked for both the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ, as a choir director. He is thrilled to bring his lived interfaith experience to support the great work of the Tri-Faith Initiative. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in music and political science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska College of Law. An active member of the Omaha arts community, Brian directs the early music ensemble Capitol Avenue Baroque and serves on the Board of the Directors of the River City Mixed Chorus.

Countryside Community Church

Nancy Behringer

Nancy has lived in Omaha since 1980 having moved with her family from Pittsburgh, PA because of a job transfer for her husband, George. She found Omaha to have many wonderful opportunities for meaningful volunteer work for many nonprofit organizations that enabled her to raise three children and participate in the community in fulfilling ways for the past 40+ years. The Westside School District, Omaha Symphony Association, Henry Doorly Zoo and, dearest to her heart, Countryside Community Church all allowed Nancy to achieve leadership positions that gave her a sense of accomplishment in the Behringer Family’s adopted city. She is a past Moderator of Countryside and recently was one of six members of the Countryside Relocation Committee which guided the church through raising $26 million, construction of the building, and establishment of the congregation on the Tri-Faith Commons…a most rewarding and challenging undertaking!

Curiosity and a sense of adventure led Nancy and George to live and work in Saudi Arabia for 4 years, 1998-2002. That curiosity has prompted them to travel the world upon retirement visiting about 60 countries.

Nancy and George’s family has grown to fifteen widely scattered family members including 7 terrific grandchildren. Nancy’s interests include travel, books and learning about the natural world.

Trisha Hoffman-Ahrens

Trisha Hoffman-Ahrens is a Realtor® with over 25 years of progressive experience in real estate nationwide. Recognized as a transformational leader, innovator, and activator, Hoffman-Ahrens served in executive positions with the nation’s largest publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the multifamily sector. With experience in over 39 cities and 22 states, Hoffman-Ahrens brings her market knowledge to each client relationship, helping clients define and refine their investment strategy, create short- and long-term investment objectives, and provide comprehensive analysis and due diligence during both sides of the sales process.

Hoffman-Ahrens has firsthand experience in business ownership and nonprofit organizations. As principal of an innovative consulting organization dedicated to taking nonprofits from start-up to sustainability, Hoffman-Ahrens collaborated with executives and organizations to harness new opportunities, embrace change, and achieve breakthrough results. She helped secure over $15 million in private funding and $62.5 million in public funding for a public-private partnership and assisted nonprofits in establishing governance, operational infrastructure, and sustainable funding.

Active in the community, Hoffman-Ahrens serves on the Board of Directors for the Tri-Faith Initiative (Omaha, NE) and is Chair of the Development Committee. She is an engaged member of Countryside Community Church (Omaha, NE) and serves as Moderator. She has served on the boards of various organizations, such as Avondale House, a residential facility for children and adults with autism (Houston, TX), and the River Oaks Women’s Breakfast Club (Houston, TX).

A lifelong learner, speaker, and IBSTIPI certified facilitator, Hoffman-Ahrens holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Kansas and a Master of Music from the University of Michigan. She has two adult children, Drew Ahrens and Lindsey Ahrens Polk (Spencer Polk), and one grandchild, Maren.

Rick MacInnes

Rick MacInnes is one of the founding board members of the Tri-Faith Initiative for Countryside Community Church and currently serves as the Chair of the Tri-Faith Initiative Board of Directors. Rick spent much of his career in the telecommunications industry, meeting growing digital demands for small businesses and consumers. Experienced in leading strategic operations, marketing, communications and customer experience teams, he retired from a 33+ year career with Qwest Communications (now CenturyLink/Lumen) in a senior leadership position as the Director of Strategic Product Sales & Marketing for the Channel Marketing division. 

While at Qwest, Rick also brought experience to develop new online programs to increase sales and engage customers for the eCommerce and eMarketing teams. Following retirement, he partnered and started the JButler Group, a sales, marketing and fund development consulting business, and served as its COO & EVP/Marketing.

He holds both a master’s and a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University. As an active member of Countryside Community Church, Rick was a past Moderator of the Church Council twice. As Chair of the Countryside Relocation Committee, he led the church’s building project on the Tri-Faith Commons. He currently serves on the Building & Grounds and Nominating Committees, and has also been Chair of both Deacons and the Youth boards.

Rick, a graduate of the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Leadership Omaha program, held other board leadership roles for the Omaha Children’s Museum, AIM Institute, Crèche Child Care Center, Youth Leadership Omaha, Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Henry Doorly Zoo and Westside Community Schools. Rick and his wife, Cathy, have two married daughters and four grandchildren.

Mark Stursma

Mark Stursma joined the Tri-Faith Board in 2020 as a representative of Countryside Community Church. Previously, Mark was on the Tri-Faith campus design committee and participated in Countryside Community Church’s discernment process by facilitating congregational discussions. Mark has worked as a City Planner for most of his career and in both the public and private sectors. He was hired as the Planning Director for the City of Papillion, Nebraska in 2004 and was appointed as the Deputy City Administrator in 2023. He currently oversees the Police, Fire, Planning, Building, Public Works, and Economic Development Departments. Mark has a Bachelor of Science in Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State University and a Master of Science in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Creighton Law School. He gained his AICP certification in Planning in 2000 and recently received a Certified Public Manager certificate at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Mark is a graduate of Leadership Sarpy (2005) and Leadership Nebraska (2022). He is a longtime member and currently the chair of the Active Living Advisory Committee in Omaha. Mark has been married to his wife Brenda for 26 years and his two sons, Luke and Matt, both currently attend the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Rev. Dr. Jenny schultz-THomas

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas is a fully ordained United Church of Christ (UCC) minister with more than 15 years of dedicated service to progressive faith communities, always working at the intersection of social justice, spirituality, and community building. Her ministerial path includes serving as Senior Pastor for two large, progressive UCC congregations before coming to Countryside.

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree in Biblical Proclamation from Emory University Candler School of Theology, a renowned progressive theological institution. Her doctoral research explored the impact of the Maker Movement on congregational vitality, with a specific focus on worship and community engagement. Her belief in the transformative power of creativity and Maker Culture in Christian worship promises to invigorate our spiritual journey.

Shultz-Thomas is dedicated to interfaith projects and initiatives. She’s worked with both the Triangle Interfaith Alliance in North Carolina and the Progressive Interfaith Clergy Network. “I am passionate about building sustainable relationships with people across the spectrum of human diversity,” she said, “and I am passionate about empowering others who would join me.”

Rev. Dr. Shultz-Thomas has worked extensively in social justice, anti-racism and creation justice ministries. Her advocacy for climate justice at previous posts garnered awards and recognition for environmental and sustainable activism.

Jenny and her wife, Shannon, are blessed with two children; daughter Quinn, 8, and son Sage, 10.

American Muslim Institute

Dr. Hesham Basma

Dr. Hesham Basma has been a member of the AMI board of directors since 2014. Hesham completed his bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and his master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences (biochemistry) from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. He was then awarded a two-year scholarship to complete the research component of his Ph.D. training at the University of Tennessee (Memphis) and subsequently received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Al-Azhar University. Hesham and his family moved to Omaha in 2001 and he joined the biochemistry department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) as a post-doctoral research associate. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at UNMC and also remote pharmacist with Catholic Health Initiatives. Hesham and his wife, Lobna, have 3 daughters.

Sally Elatta

Sally Elatta is the CEO and founder of AgilityHealth®. She is a thought leader in enabling Enterprise Business Agility by measuring what matters at every level of the organization. She’s passionate about helping organizations accelerate strategy and value realization by building high performing teams. Sally is a trusted advisor to many top executives in large enterprises. She is a dynamic and engaging speaker who’s leadership mantra is Be Bold, Be Real and Lead with Love. She’s a busy mother of 3, leads the AMI Strategy Team and In her spare time she runs her nonprofit Sudan NextGen which aims to help support her home country Sudan.

Bintou Taal

Bintou Taal is the Manager of SCADA Systems for Metropolitan Utilities District (MUD). Bintou graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and an MBA in Management Information Systems from Bellevue University. She is currently serving as the vice president of the Green Omaha Coalition Board, president of Dickinson’s Landing Homeowners Association, and member of the T&L Key Communicator committee for Westside District 66 schools. She is passionate about education, environmental justice and loves volunteering.

abdul Mackie

Abdul M. Mackie, has been living in Omaha since 2017 and has been a congregation member of AMI since 2018. He serves on the boards of both the Tri-Faith Initiative and AMI. Mackie is employed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, where he serves as the Education Liaison Representative for the Federal & States Approvals Team. Prior to joining the VA, he worked for the Ford Motor Company as a Human Resource Associate in Dearborn Michigan and Buffalo New York, and has also worked for non-profit education and training, and social service agencies in the metropolitan Detroit area. He received a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Detroit-Mercy and Bachelors of Arts degree in History from the University of Michigan.

Bassel El-Kasaby

Bassel was born in Giza — “No, I did not live in a Pyramid or ride a camel to school.” He graduated from the University of Iowa College of law with a dual degree: Juris Doctor and MSc in Urban Planning. Bassel mostly represent immigrants and is the founder of the largest Immigration Law practice in Nebraska and surrounding states. In addition to defending immigrants, he has handled many notable Civil Rights cases, including cases of religious discrimination and freedom of expression. His pet area of law is Aviation Law. Bassel has published peer refereed articles and taught classes on Aviation Law, Insurance, Security, and Civil Rights.

Community Representatives

carole Patrick

As CEO of Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), Dr. Carole Patrick is responsible for developing business strategies and managing operations for an organization that has provided healthcare and supportive services to marginalized populations in the Omaha community for 127 years. Prior to VNA, Carole was Chief Development Officer at Stephen Center and spent over 20 years in higher education as a professor and dean.

Carole received her bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University and her master’s degree and doctorate from Oxford University in the Integration of Psychological and Theological Constructs. She has fundraising certifications through Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Principles and Techniques of Fundraising and Developing Annual Sustainability, and she is a proud graduate of NAM’s Nonprofit Executive Institute (Class 14) and the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Leadership Omaha (Class 45).

In 2021, Carole was recognized by The BLOC as one of Nebraska’s 50 Influential People Over 50. Carole also serves on the board of directors for Hospice House – The Josie Harper Residence. Carole and her therapy dog, Gilligan, volunteer through Love on a Leash, providing emotional support to others in the community. Her family includes her mother, Betty, daughter and son-in-law, Hannah and Alex, grandson, Hugh, and granddaughter, Margot.

Denise Bartels

Bio coming soon!

Ralph Kellogg

Ralph Kellogg serves as the Vice President for People and Training at Lutheran Family Services. Mr. Kellogg has over twenty years in the areas of human resources and “people management and leadership”. Kellogg also works as an Adjunct Instructor at Bellevue University where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Human Resources.

Kellogg has his own consulting firm, Connections Points Consulting, specializing in Human Resources. Kellogg also coaches individuals and teams using the DiSC psychometric tool which focuses on understanding one’s self, approaches to leadership, recognizing potential biases, recognizing stressors, and leaning into work that promotes joy and fulfillment.

Kellogg works at as keynote speaker and workshop presenter. In 2022, Kellogg was a keynote speaker for McLean and Company on the topic of employee well-being. Kellogg also presented at TEDx Omaha and spoke on the topic of normalizing mental health conversations in the workplace. Kellogg as also spoken at the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Annual Summit, as well as the Society for Human Resources of Nebraska State Conference Annual Meeting.

Barry Thomas

Barry Thomas is the Director of Equity and Diversity for Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska. He has also served in prior roles as Supervisor of Social Studies and a teacher at both Omaha North High School and McMillan Magnet Center. Barry obtained his social science education degree from Wayne State College and two master’s degrees in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College.

In his time as Social Studies Supervisor Barry Thomas has served as president for the Nebraska State Council for Social Studies, a member of the Nebraska Advisory Council for National Geographic Society, and board member of the National Social Studies Supervisor Association. Mr. Thomas has presented at the National Council for Economic Education Conference as and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Conference. Mr. Thomas is completing his service as Co-Chair for the African-American Educators Community for NCSS a. Recently he was awarded the Distinguished Support for Geography Education award by the National Council for Geographic Education and the 2018 Leadership Award from Geographic Educators of Nebraska. During the summers Barry and Emily Brush, Program Director for Making Invisible Histories Visible, lead a history camp for middle school students that requires them to collect narratives of people of color that have been excluded from local history and textbooks. He currently is a lead member of a select group of educators working on revising and updating the state standards for social studies. This is his second time working on these standards.

Barry served on the Great Plains Black History Museum board and Omaha African-American Male Achievement Collaboration. He is on the advisory board for both the New Leadership Council as well as the Empowerment Network. Barry is also an Executive Board member of the Omaha Branch of the NAACP. Mr. Thomas was president and Social Action Chair of the Omaha chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Recently he was awarded the Superior Service award by his state and district of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. for his work in multiple mentoring organizations, blood drive efforts with the American Red Cross, and his efforts to increase voter registration, education, and mobilization in poor and underrepresented communities.

Jeff Yost

Jeff Yost, President and CEO of Nebraska Community Foundation, and his talented team are unleashing abundant local assets, inspiring charitable giving, and connecting ambitious people in 270 hometowns throughout 81 of Nebraska’s 93 counties. Jeff has dedicated the past 25 years of his career to NCF’s mission and community-led, asset-based philosophies. Since 1994, NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $517 million in Nebraska hometowns. Prior to NCF, he worked for the State of Nebraska in the governor’s office. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has served on many boards and advisory councils including the University of Nebraska President’s Advisory Council, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, and the Council on Foundations.

Jeff has taught and consulted on philanthropy, public-private partnerships, and asset-based community development (ABCD) throughout the United States and internationally in 15 countries. He and NCF have been featured in numerous publications including Nonprofit Quarterly, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and The New York Times. He pens a monthly column published in newspapers across Nebraska. Jeff and his wife, Cindy Ryman Yost, are proud parents of three children: Elizabeth, Carter, and Harrison.

Harnoor S. DHaliwal

Dr. Dhaliwal is a distinguished higher education leader renowned for his pioneering work in human-centered design thinking and STEM higher education. Currently serving as the Associate Executive Director for the Walter Scott, Jr. Scholarship Program, which stands as the premier undergraduate and professional medical science STEM living and learning scholarship in Nebraska, Dr. Dhaliwal plays a central role in molding the educational trajectory of the Scott Scholars. As Associate Executive Director, Dr. Dhaliwal is at the forefront of developing the program’s educational experience, emphasizing hands-on learning opportunities that resonate profoundly with the students. His strategic vision and extensive background in human-centered design thinking have positioned him as a driving force behind innovative educational initiatives, fostering an environment where students engage meaningfully with their academic pursuits. 

Dr. Dhaliwal is a trailblazer in cultivating partnerships and collaborations that extend beyond traditional academic boundaries. His commitment to infusing real-world challenges into the educational experience has led to collaborations with national and international educational institutions, national security firms, and private companies. Together, these partnerships strive to address pressing challenges, resulting in practical and innovative solutions with far-reaching implications. 

His commitment to excellence empowers students within the Walter Scott, Jr. Scholarship Program to embrace their full potential and make meaningful contributions to the field of STEM and beyond. As a thought leader and scholar, Dr. Dhaliwal has made significant contributions to the intersection of health design thinking and STEM education. 

Anthony Scioli

Anthony Scioli is a partner at Kutak Rock LLP, a national law firm.  He has served and continues to serve on non-profit boards dedicated to serving children, the elderly, families in crisis, and the community.  Anthony is honored to have learned from Jesuit priests and Chabad Rabbis.  He embraces the Jesuit teaches of homines pro aliis (men and women for others) and cura personalis (care for the whole person).  He also values the Chabad approach to reach out to others with acts of good and kindness.  Anthony and his wife, Andee, have two sons.

alexander cayetano

Alexander Cayetano (he/they) serves as the Senior Director of Leadership Development at the Greater Omaha Chamber. A vocation to the monastic life brought them from their hometown Virginia Beach to rural Nebraska. The decade spent in a Benedictine monastery instilled deep values of hospitality, community, and service, which Alexander carries into his professional life. Alexander’s commitment to social justice is reflected in their work in immigrant and refugee advocacy, rural community organizing, youth development, and child welfare. In addition to serving on the Tri-Faith Initiative board, Alexander also serves on the boards of Astute Coffee (a social enterprise offering workforce development and personal growth opportunities to young adults impacted by the foster care system), the Immigrant Legal Center – Refugee Empowerment Center, and Youth Leadership Omaha. Alexander believes in the power of community and quietly continues to shape and influence the landscape of advocacy, volunteer engagement, and community leadership development.

We are also grateful for the many key volunteers from all three faith groups who have donated large amounts of time to this project.

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Tri-Faith Initiative
13136 Faith Plaza
Omaha, NE 68144


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