Don Macke Joins the GROW Nebraska Board

Don Macke Joins the GROW Nebraska Board

Don Macke Joins the GROW Nebraska Board

Don Macke

A Nebraskan with more than 40 years of experience in community economic development is the newest board member for the GROW Nebraska Foundation.

Don Macke, vice president of e2 Entrepreneurial Ecosystems (previously the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship), has been selected to join GROW’s 12-member statewide board of directors.

“I have been following GROW Nebraska and supporting it from its very beginnings,” Macke said. “I so believe in its mission and value of growing our artisans’ community in Nebraska. Fostering this kind of development not only contributes to the personal and economic wellbeing in our state and region but greatly enhances our culture.”

GROW Nebraska Foundation CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke said she is excited to have Don join the board.

“Don brings a wealth of entrepreneurship and nonprofit success and strategic vision to our organization, which will be critical to our ability to scale and meet the growing demands to help Nebraska businesses connect to the global marketplace,” she said.

Macke said as a board member he hopes to shine a light on GROW Nebraska to share how its mission is critically important to the state. 

“In today’s very competitive human talent environment, genuine community is so important in attracting, developing and retaining human talent,” Macke said. “By fostering a robust artisan sector in Nebraska, GROW Nebraska is contributing to creating a much more interesting state while helping individual artisans find greater success with their passions.”

Macke’s experience in both nonprofit organizational development and working with entrepreneurial ventures will be of great value to GROW Nebraska.

Most of Macke’s career has been related to economic development. He worked for nearly 10 years on staff in the Nebraska Unicameral, serving in Ben Nelson’s cabinet and leading the Rural Development Commission. He also has provided consulting services to businesses and nonprofit organizations and has taught college economics.

Macke said he wants to “ensure that GROW Nebraska has the recognition, funding and staffing to fully optimize its potential.”

When he’s not working, Macke is active in his East Campus Neighborhood Association and assorted charities in his three hometowns of Mullen, Ogallala and Lincoln. He grew up in Mullen, graduated from high school in Ogallala and has lived in Lincoln since 1974.

He is married to Jenny Carver, who is a preschool special education teacher with the Lincoln Public Schools, and they have two adult sons who both live and work in Lincoln.

“As I approach this time in my life, I want to give back to my home state and hometowns,” Macke said. “Serving on the GROW Nebraska board hopefully will provide me another way to give back.”

GROW Nebraska® Foundation is a statewide non-profit training and marketing organization. Serving over 400 Nebraska small businesses, the organization provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW Nebraska’s educational programs receive federal and state funding, along with generous support from foundations and individual donors.

GROW Welcomes Kirsti Schack As New Board Member

GROW Welcomes Kirsti Schack As New Board Member

GROW Welcomes Kirsti Schack As New Board Member

A passion for small businesses and entrepreneurs led Kirsti Schack, retail manager at First National Bank Kearney Branch, to become involved as a new board member of GROW Nebraska.

“Being in banking, I have seen many folks start their business with the change from their piggy bank and turn it into something wonderful,” Kirsti said. “GROW believes in just that, investing in our small businesses and especially entrepreneurs across the state, and it is important for me to volunteer time where I am passionate.” 

Kirsti has worked in various roles at the Kearney bank for the past 15 years and has served as the branch manager for eight years. She will serve as the co-treasurer on the GROW Nebraska Board of Directors. Her years of experience in the banking world bring new insights to the GROW board.

“My banking and financial background help me to see everything from another point of view,” Kirsti said. 

Kirsti said she learned that GROW is much more than just a retail store when she was approached about joining the board.

“As I continue to learn more and more about the organization, I think it is important to help share with our community what GROW could do for them,” she said.

GROW Nebraska is a non-profit organization that help entrepreneurs get the resources they need to live anywhere in Nebraska and make a sustainable living. Since its inception in 1998, it has stived to be the premier educational nonprofit that empowers entrepreneurs through business training, technical assistance, promotion and market opportunities.

Besides the GROW board, Kirsti’s other community involvements include: Leadership Kearney, past board Secretary; Leadership Kearney Alumni; SAFE Center volunteer; First Lutheran Church member; UNK Alumni Association; Relay for Life committee member; Junior Achievement teacher/volunteer; Kenwood Elementary PTO; Sonshine World Childcare PAC Member.

Kirsti and her husband, Jared, have been married for 8 ½ years, and they have a son, Mason who just turned 7, and a son, Austin who just turned 2. When she’s not working or volunteering, Kirsti enjoys spending time with the family outside either playing in their giant waterslide inflatable or golfing.

GROW Nebraska board members serve 3-year terms and hail from locations across Nebraska. For a full list of board members, please visit our website at

GROW Nebraska Expands Reach With New Statewide Board

GROW Nebraska Expands Reach With New Statewide Board

Grow Nebraska Expands Reach With New Statewide Board

GROW Nebraska is growing.

The 20-year-old non-profit organization recently expanded its board to include leaders from across the state. “Since we have members from across the state, we wanted our board to also be represented by leaders across the state,” GROW Nebraska CEO Janell Anderson Ehrke stated.

GROW Nebraska is a non-profit organization that empowers entrepreneurs through business training, technical assistance, promotion and market opportunities. More than 400 business owners, organizations and individuals from across the state belong to the organization.

The organization had been previously governed by a board of five members who lived close to GROW’s headquarters in Holbrook and now in Oxford. The organization conducted its first meeting of a new eight-member statewide board at the Nebraska State Fair in late August.

New board members are Rick Nelsen of Lincoln, Mary Hurst of Arapahoe, A. David McIntosh of Kearney, Kent Grisham of Omaha, and Jeff Yost of Lincoln.

Rick Nelsen, senior economic development consultant with the Nebraska Public Power District, has been a certified economic developer since 1993. He is past president of the Nebraska Economic Developers Association (NEDA); past president and current first vice president of National Rural Economic Developers Association (NREDA); and a board member of the Heartland Basic Economic Development Course.

Nelsen said he hopes to bring a broad perspective of economic development to the GROW board and a recognition of the role that entrepreneurship plays in economic development.

“I agreed to serve as a way to give back to Nebraska and to its small businesses, which are a big part of our economy,” Nelsen said. “I look forward to contributing to the efforts of GROW Nebraska by providing guidance and input while watching the organization impact individuals and small businesses across the state.”

Mary Hurst, owner of Touch of Class salon in Arapahoe and former owner of Kearney’s Bang Salon and Spa (she sold the spa in 2015), has worked as a hairdresser for 55 years.

“I felt like being on the GROW board was an opportunity to help others who wanted to have their own businesses grow since I had the experience of having businesses and employees myself,” Hurst said. “I love helping other people and love to see others succeed with something that they love.”

Hurst still works three days a week for 12-13 hours a day and looks forward to volunteering with the other new GROW board members on her days off.

Kent Grisham is president and CEO of the Nebraska Trucking Association in Lincoln.

Grisham was first associated with GROW Nebraska when it was a start-up twenty years ago. At the time, he worked at Great Plains Communications in Blair, and the company was quick to support economic development through the entrepreneurism that GROW promotes.

“Now, I am involved again because I still believe that the future of many Nebraska communities can be positively affected by fostering and promoting the entrepreneurial spirit within them,” Grisham said. “And for the Nebraska Trucking Association, since almost half of all Nebraska communities receive 100 percent of their goods and materials by truck, economic development is also a high priority.”

David McIntosh of Kearney is retired from a career in bank management, real estate development and investments. Throughout his career, McIntosh connected with political leaders and others in the state, and he hopes to use his connections to create excitement and support for GROW Nebraska.

“I believe in this organization whole-heartedly,” McIntosh said of GROW. “I guess what I’m hoping to do is to help is expand GROW and help it be more recognized and appreciated for what it’s done in the last 20 years.”

McIntosh is a supporting member of GROW Nebraska, giving his donation to the non-profit organization in memory of his father, J Paul McIntosh, who was a lifelong entrepreneur.

“I think it’s fantastic for entrepreneurs, people who have an idea and stick with it and work with it and put all of their time and energy into it, to have an organization like GROW give them a helping hand,” he said. “I feel proud to be asked to be part of the organization, and I’m looking to doing whatever I can to help it grow and be successful.”

“I think it’s fantastic for entrepreneurs, people who have an idea and stick with it and work with it and put all of their time and energy into it, to have an organization like GROW give them a helping hand,” he said. “I feel proud to be asked to be part of the organization, and I’m looking to doing whatever I can to help it grow and be successful.”

Jeff Yost has been instrumental in developing Nebraska Community Foundation’s unique profile among community foundations nationwide. He has guided NCF’s evolution as an institution that uses philanthropy as a tool for rural community capacity building and economic development.

Jeff is the author of numerous articles and provides lectures and consulting throughout the U.S. and internationally. Topics focus on the power of philanthropy when it transcends the model of traditional charity and the phenomena of the intergenerational transfer of wealth within the context of small rural places.  

Yost was honored for his professional and volunteer work in 2002 by being selected one of the Lincoln Journal-Star’s “20 under 40–Lincoln’s Emerging Leaders.”

These new board members join the existing board members, Rodney Whipple of Arapahoe, president; Barbara Pfeiffer of Arapahoe, vice president; Jim Crandall of Holdrege, treasurer; and Justin Daake of Alma, secretary.

GROW Nebraska is an educational non-profit organization headquartered in Oxford that empowers entrepreneurs through business training, technical assistance, promotion and market opportunities. It provides education and training to individuals and small business owners across Nebraska, with an emphasis on economically depressed areas, to create sustainable economic development and marketing opportunities. GROW is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2018.