About Us

MENTOR Nebraska Overview

MENTOR Nebraska, formerly Midlands Mentoring Partnership, was launched in 1999 to improve the number and quality of mentoring programs available for Nebraska’s youth. For more than 20 years, we have led the mentoring movement to ensure youth and mentors have access to high-quality mentoring experiences. We support and collaborate with mentoring programs that serve youth across Nebraska. While growth is a vital component of connecting more young people with mentors, we are dedicated to making sure those connections are quality matches made through quality mentoring programs.


MENTOR Nebraska’s vision is for every young person to have the supportive relationships they need to grow and develop into thriving, productive and engaged adults.


MENTOR Nebraska fuels the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships, strengthens collaboration, and advocates for mentoring.

Guiding Principles

Champions For Youth

  • We believe that young people are fully capable of thriving and reaching success in their lives.
  • We celebrate and recognize the many strengths and assets that youth possess.
  • We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all areas of our work.
  • We advocate for mentoring as a critical youth development strategy that supports increased access and support in education and employment while decreasing youth involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Promoters of Excellence in Mentoring

  • We promote best practices and embrace high standards for quality, innovation, and continuous improvement.
  • We use data, assessments, and resources to ensure effective continuous improvement in our sector.

Capacity Builders

  • We provide technical assistance and professional development opportunities for educators, staff, and community providers.
  • We develop, maintain, and leverage strong relationships with mentoring partners to extend and enhance capacity across the state.


  • We leverage and extend our work through community partnerships and collaborations.
  • We connect, convene, and partner with mentoring programs, schools, businesses, philanthropists, and policy makers to recruit mentors and create efficiencies in our sector.

Change Agents

  • We examine data to identify trends and gaps in services and operate at the highest level of integrity to ensure donor funds are used as entrusted.
  • We research, promote, and provide support for promising new initiatives and innovations in the mentoring sector.

Recent Awards

  • 2016 Spirit of Omaha Best Education Event
  • 2016 Better Business Bureau Integrity Award
  • 2015 Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Best Practice Partner
  • 2014 Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Catalyst Award

Community Partners

Partners in Education

Grand Island Public Schools  

Lincoln Public Schools 

Millard Public Schools

Omaha Public Schools

proud affiliate of

Meet the Team

Melissa Mayo

Executive Director

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Melissa Mayo

Melissa serves as the Executive Director of MENTOR Nebraska where she leads a team dedicated to strengthening and advocating for youth mentoring across Nebraska.

Melissa was previously the Senior Programming Director at MENTOR Nebraska where she led expansion efforts of Success Mentors and STRIVE refugee mentoring in several Nebraska school districts while supporting evaluation and operations functions for the organization. She has spent her career dedicated to youth through leadership roles at the United Way of the Midlands, Latino Center of the Midlands, Partnership 4 Kids, and Heartland Family Service. She has a strong track record of diversifying funding support for programmatic growth, successfully implementing and replicating youth development models serving system-impacted youth, leading multi-county initiatives, and collaborating with nonprofit organizations, school districts, government entities, and corporate partners to create purposeful community partnerships.

Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska - Omaha. She is a 2011 graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Institute and past board member of the South YMCA.

Karima Al-Absy

Associate Director of Advancement and Organizational Strategy

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Karima Al-Absy Headshot_Website

Karima started at MENTOR Nebraska in 2020 and is currently the Associate Director of Advancement and Organizational Strategy. In this position, she oversees internal and external data, grant management, and quality assurance matters for the organization. Prior to this role, Karima also served as an Educational Consultant for MENTOR Nebraska.

Karima has previously worked as the Mentoring & Tutoring Coordinator at Kids Can Community Center. She is also an experienced writer and editor with a background in organizational culture and team development. Karima earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Creighton University and a master’s degree from New York University.

Christopher McCroy

Associate Director of Training & Program Development


Chris McCroy

Christopher serves as the Associate Director of Training & Program Development. In this role, he coordinates training offerings, supports school districts and community organizations implementing intentional mentoring initiatives, and expands research and evaluation activities in the mentoring sector.

Christopher is a critical and passionate educator who aspires to create a community where young people know they belong, matter, and have equitable opportunities to reach their full potential. Prior to joining MENTOR Nebraska, Christopher served as a Higher Education Academic Specialist for the William H. Thompson Learning Community housed at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. In conjunction with the Susan T. Buffett Scholarship foundation, he ensured the successful matriculation from high school to college for low-income, first-generation college students.

Christopher graduated cum laude from Morehouse College with a bachelor’s degree in Religion and minor in Education Studies. He earned a master’s degree in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Susie Owens

Director of Strategic Partnerships


Susie Owens

Susie serves as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at MENTOR Nebraska where she oversees training and consulting services while creating partnerships with nonprofits, corporations, higher education institutes, and donors to expand mentoring opportunities across Nebraska.

Susie is a highly-skilled nonprofit and education leader with 10+ years of experience in executing and measuring programs. In her previous roles at the Greater Omaha Chamber, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and College Possible, Susie developed onboarding, leadership, and training programs. She has a background in workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is passionate about making Nebraska a more inclusive and equitable place.

Susie earned a bachelor’s degree in Child, Youth & Family Studies, and a master’s degree in Leadership Education from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.

Teresa Riesberg

Associate Director of Marketing & Communications

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Teresa Riesberg Headshot_Website

Teresa joined MENTOR Nebraska in 2016 and currently serves as the Associate Director of Marketing & Communications.  In her role, Teresa raises the visibility and awareness of MENTOR Nebraska’s work by managing and executing all external and internal digital communication strategies. She brings public awareness to the value of mentoring by leading public relations, advocacy, and government relations for the organization.

Teresa earned her bachelor’s degrees in journalism & mass communication and kinesiology & health from Iowa State University.

Fred Whitted

Associate Director of Outreach & Engagement


Fred Whitted

Fred serves as the Associate Director of Outreach & Engagement for MENTOR Nebraska where he brings stakeholders together to increase quality mentoring opportunities for young people in Nebraska. He convenes current member organizations and builds new relationships across Nebraska to expand the number BIPOC led, BIPOC serving, geographically distinct, and diverse mentoring models. He also leads efforts to increase youth voice and choice in our sector by implementing nationally recognized youth engagement strategies.

Fred is a relationship-focused education leader who brings people together to achieve collaborative goals and create meaningful partnerships. In his previous role at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Fred served as the Greek Life and IDEA Coordinator where he provided strategic leadership in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion while advising 15 fraternities and sororities. He also has 4+ years of experience developing and implementing comprehensive programming to support high school and college students through his work at TRiO in Metro Community College and Urban League of Nebraska.

Fred earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Peru State College and a master’s degree in education from Concordia University.

Executive Committee

Kari O'Neill Potts

Valmont Industries

Dr. Amanda Levos

Vice President
Grand Island Public Schools

Justin Frauendorfer

Bland & Associates

Daniel Gutman

Law Office of Daniel Gutman

Moniki Gunn

CHI Health

Juan Padilla

Canopy South

Matthew Enenbach

Immediate Past President
Kutak Rock

Board of Directors

Jeremy Christensen

Baird Holm

Greg Gonzalez

Omaha Police Department

Scott Focht

Member At-Large
Omaha Public Power District

Kevin Langin

First National Bank

Chris Rodgers

Douglas County
Creighton University

Carol Russell

Community Volunteer

Elizabeth Seacrest

Nebraska Legislature

Betsy Vidlak

Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska

Partner Members have demonstrated they are utilizing research-based mentoring practices in their programs. They participate in statewide data collection efforts and complete the National Quality Mentoring System (NQMS). Partner Members receive the highest level of benefits including no-cost background checks for all mentors, no-cost data collection and case management system, no-cost access to statewide recruitment activities, and opportunities for funding support.

100 Black Men of Omaha

Marcus Bell

ACE Mentor Program

Jan Christensen

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Nebraska

Brenna Poindexter

Big Brothers Big Sisters Lincoln

Shawn Ryba

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Midlands

Nichole Turgeon

Big Pals Little Pals of Greater Columbus

Aimee Heesacker

The Bike Union Mentoring Project

Miah Sommer

Community Connections

Jayna Schaaf

Girls Inc. of Omaha

Candi Jones

International Council for Refugees and Immigrants

Dekow Sagar

The Keys Foundation

Marquis Haynes

Kids Can Community Center

Robert Patterson

Mentoring Works

Sarah Tonniges

Partnership 4 Kids

Deb Denbeck

Release Ministries

Dave Wininger

TeamMates of Lincoln

DeMoine Adams

TeamMates of Millard

DeMoine Adams

TeamMates of Omaha

DeMoine Adams

Partners in Education

Grand Island Public Schools

Success Mentors

Lincoln Public Schools

STRIVE Refugee Mentoring

Millard Public Schools

Success Mentors

Omaha Public Schools

Success Mentors & STRIVE Refugee Mentoring