Flatwater Free Press staff

Matt Wynn, Executive Director

Matt Wynn, Executive Director

Matt Wynn is the Executive Director of the Nebraska Journalism Trust, which launched and funds the Flatwater Free Press. Most recently, he was an editor on the investigative desk at USA Today, where his investigation into the proliferation of model bills in statehouses was awarded the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. Prior to that, he was the Director of Investigative and Enterprise at MedPage Today. He also spent time as a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald and other newspapers. An Omaha Central alum, he graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He lives in Omaha with his wife, Sarah, and three children.

Twitter: @mattwynn / Email: mwynn@flatwaterfreepress.org

Matthew Hansen, Editor

Matthew Hansen, Editor

Matthew Hansen is the editor of the Flatwater Free Press, Nebraska’s first statewide nonprofit news source. Hansen, a 16-year veteran of Nebraska newspapers, has previously worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and then a reporter and metro columnist at the Omaha World-Herald. During his time in newspapers, he travelled to Cuba and Afghanistan and won multiple state, regional and national awards for investigative stories, feature stories and columns. He was the 2015 Great Plains Writer of the Year. Most recently Hansen has served as the managing editor at the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, creating a new website focusing on early childhood education. The native of Red Cloud and one-time intern at the Red Cloud Chief and the Hastings Tribune now lives in Omaha and is married to Sarah Baker-Hansen, a longtime Nebraska food writer and restaurant critic. Their book together, “The Better Half” is an examination of the Nebraska’s finest road trips, restaurants and hidden stories.

Twitter: @redcloud_scribe / Email: mhansen@flatwaterfreepress.org

Natalia Alamdari, Reporter

Natalia Alamdari, Reporter

Natalia Alamdari has worked at newspapers throughout the country. Her reporting has taken her to small town shooting ranges in Missouri, contentious school board meetings in Delaware, and aquariums in Texas. Her past work has exposed state senators using racial slurs in emails, gender pay inequities in state departments, and the increasing presence of dark money in school board elections. Working at the Flatwater Free Press will be a return to Nebraska — in college, she spent a summer interning at the Omaha World-Herald. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia and native Texan. When she’s not reporting, you can probably find her baking, petting her cat, or trying out a new crafty hobby.

Twitter: @nataliaalamdari / Email: nalamdari@flatwaterfreepress.org

Yanqi Xu, Reporter

Yanqi Xu, Reporter

Yanqi Xu (pronounced yen-chee shu) most recently covered courts and law for NC Policy Watch in North Carolina, focusing on criminal justice reform, housing justice and redistricting. Prior to that, she was part of a team at the Investigative Reporting Workshop that developed the Public Accountability Project, a newsroom search tool that hosts more than 1 billion public records in one place. Her work has put a face to North Carolina’s failed rental assistance efforts, called out the lawmaker fighting to keep children eligible for marriage, and led to nursing home reforms across the country. Also a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Yanqi received a Telly Award for producing the online video show Global Journalist. She hails from South China, where she first developed an interest in telling stories that resonate with people, no matter where they are.

Twitter: @yanqixu_ / Email: yxu@flatwaterfreepress.org

Sara Gentzler, Reporter

Sara Gentzler, Reporter

Most recently, Sara was an enterprise reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where she covered the ultra-dramatic 2022 gubernatorial primary race. Before that, as a state government reporter, she broke stories on Nebraska footing the bill (and refusing to admit it) for deploying state troopers to the southern border and its practice of inking millions in no-bid pandemic contracts with an out-of-state company. She graduated from Gretna High School and Creighton University and ultimately returned to Nebraska from Washington state, where she covered state government for The Olympian and three other newspapers. She and her husband, Alex, welcomed identical twin boys in June. They’re excited to introduce them to Omaha’s parks and music scene.

Twitter: @saragentzler / Email: sgentzler@flatwaterfreepress.org

Ryan Hoffman, Managing Editor/Lincoln Reporter

Ryan Hoffman, Managing Editor/Lincoln Reporter

Ryan is a reporter and editor who values accountability journalism and thoughtful storytelling. He previously worked as the state/regional editor at the Omaha World-Herald, where he oversaw reporters covering state government, city hall, the military and K-12 education. He and his wife, Sam, have lived in Lincoln since 2019. In 2022 they welcomed twin boys into the world. He enjoys spending time with family, exploring Lincoln’s great parks and, as a proud native of Cincinnati, converting the chili-on-spaghetti skeptics.

Twitter: @RyanHoffman3 / Email: rhoffman@flatwaterfreepress.org

Jeremy Turley, Reporter - Flatwater Free Press

Jeremy Turley, Reporter

Jeremy Turley covers the Omaha metro area. He worked at newspapers across the Midwest before moving to Nebraska. Most recently, he shivered through several frigid winters in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he covered state government and the COVID-19 pandemic for Forum News Service. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri and a native of suburban Chicago. His hobbies include disc golfing, collecting campaign buttons and using too many em dashes — or so his editors say.

Twitter: @jeremyjturley / Email: jturley@flatwaterfreepress.org

Shane Pekny, Grant Writer & Development Consultant

Shane Pekny, Grant Writer & Development Consultant

Shane helped develop the initial business and fundraising plan for the Nebraska Journalism Trust in 2020. He continues to serve as the grants and fundraising consultant with support from Vic Gutman & Associates. A native of Norfolk, Nebraska, he has lived and worked in the Omaha area since 2003. He’s worked at Boys Town, the University of Nebraska Omaha, Goodwill Industries, and Habitat for Humanity of Omaha. Prior to his time in Omaha, he covered the Nebraska Legislature for the Nebraska Press Association and wrote periodically for the Norfolk Daily News. In his spare time, he coaches youth soccer and serves on the Bennington City Council.

Shane has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska Omaha. His creative nonfiction has appeared in Nebraska Life magazine, Vox, and at planetary.org.

Email: spekny@flatwaterfreepress.org

Stefanie Monge, Editor, Silicon Prairie News

Stefanie Monge, Editor, Silicon Prairie News

Stefanie Monge is the editor of Silicon Prairie News. She is a seasoned startup strategist, community builder and journalist with a passion for entrepreneurship and experience as a founder herself. Stefanie has spent the last 15 years working with startups around the world. She was the first-ever entrepreneurship reporter at the Omaha World-Herald where she wrote about startups and small business in the late 2000s. Since her time at the Omaha World-Herald, Stefanie has spent 12 years promoting equity and access in STEM fields, has 10 years of experience producing corporate wellness and team-building events, and has served as a startup advisor and board member for six years.

Stefanie is an avid traveler, having backpacked around the world for 2 years as a digital nomad. She is the founder and executive producer of international leadership development retreats and conferences, including GETconf (Gender Equity in Tech Conference), Think Start Do Women’s Entrepreneurship Series, and Welcor Retreats.

Email: smonge@siliconprairienews.com

Barbara Soderlin

Barbara Soderlin, Director of Advancement

Barbara Soderlin, Director of Advancement for Nebraska Journalism Trust, works with donors and leaders across Nebraska to build awareness and support for nonprofit, collaborative, community-based news. Her career has included time reporting on Nebraska businesses, schools, and communities for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star. Barbara also served as director of development at the University of Nebraska Foundation, building support for agriculture education and research at UNL.

Favorite road trip stops with husband Ryan and daughters Cee-Cee and Clara include Chimney Rock, Ashfall Fossil Beds, Homestead National Monument, Carhenge, Smith Falls and any place with ice cream or pie.

Email: bsoderlin@nebraskajournalismtrust.org

Christine Baude

Christine Baude, Director of Operations and Finance

In her role, she helps develop the financial and logistical procedures that this growing organization needs. Christine comes to us from Charles Drew Health Center, where she proved her mettle throughout the pandemic, setting up systems for getting people treated and vaccinated amid unprecedented challenges. A UNO graduate in history and literature, Christine lives in Omaha with her husband and son. 

Email: cbaude@nebraskajournalismtrust.org

Contributors

J.D. Avant

J.D. Avant hails from North Omaha, NE, and enjoys going out of town and hearing, “there are black people in Nebraska? Years freelancing and teaching writing workshops for students and inmates provides him a diverse perspective of the Big Red State.

Laura Beahm

Laura Beahm is a native Nebraskan. Laura works for the Hastings Tribune, which she joined after graduating from Central Community College. She loves telling stories in her hometown and surrounding communities. When she doesn’t have a camera in hand, Laura enjoys reading, kayaking, visiting breweries, watching baseball and playing ukulele.

Leo Adam Biga

Author-journalist-blogger Leo Adam Biga has been telling stories about people, their passions and their magnificent obsessions for four decades. The Omaha native and UNO graduate is a freelance contributing writer for various print publications and online media platforms. His work has been recognized by the Omaha Press Club, the Nebraska Press Association and the American Jewish Press Association He is the author of the books “Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film” and “Crossing Bridges: A Priest’s Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden.”

Chris Bowling

Chris Bowling is an investigative reporter for Flatwater Free Press. Prior to joining Flatwater Free Press Chris was an investigative reporter and editor for The Reader, Omaha’s alternative monthly newspaper where he focused on issues like climate change, housing, health, criminal justice and social issues. A native of Cincinnati, Bowling graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2018.

Kim Carpenter

Kim Carpenter is a freelance writer and author based in Omaha. She has worked for the Omaha World-Herald, the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts and the Akron Art Museum. She has covered visual and performing arts extensively for local, regional, national and international publications and has written books and catalogues profiling artists and their work. Kim earned her Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University and was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany.

Sky Chadde

Sky Chadde is Investigate Midwest’s assistant editor/senior reporter and has covered the agriculture industry since 2019.

Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain, a lifelong Nebraskan, spent 18 years at the Omaha World-Herald and authored “24th & Glory,” a portrait of North Omaha history and its epic generation of athletes. He’s the five-time Nebraska sportswriter of the year.

Addie Costello

Addie Costello is a summer intern studying journalism and government at The University of Texas at Austin. While in Texas, she has worked at The Texas Standard, Austin Chronicle, KXAN News and her university’s newspaper as the podcast editor. After spending a few years away, she is excited to be back in Nebraska and reporting on her home state.

Naomi Delkamiller

Naomi Delkamiller is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying journalism and public relations with a minor in digital humanities. Previously, she was a News21 investigative journalism fellow where she worked under a team of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism leaders and editors to produce the in-depth multimedia project “America After Roe.” Upon graduation in May of 2025, Delkamiller hopes to continue using emerging media techniques to investigate and document complex topics.

Bridget Fogarty

Bridget Fogarty reports on the Latino community for The Reader and El Perico in Omaha, Nebraska. Previously, Fogarty worked for the documenters program at City Bureau, a civic journalism nonprofit, covering Chicago’s public meetings.

Nancy Gaarder

Nancy Gaarder has 40 years experience covering the news in Nebraska and neighboring Missouri, first as a reporter and editor for the St. Joseph, Mo., News-Press and then for 28 years at the Omaha World-Herald. She has been honored by the Great Plains Journalism Association for news and feature writing. She has broken stories on misconduct by government officials and has been the go-to reporter in Nebraska for news on climate change and extreme weather. She is the author of Nebraska Weather. A graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, she is a former board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists. She resides in Omaha, where her spare time is spent bicycling and hanging out with friends.

Bob Glissmann

Bob Glissmann spent more than 33 years as an editor and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald. He is a fourth-generation Omahan whose great-grandfather had a dairy farm near what is now 108th and West Center. He and his wife have five children.

Dan Golden

Dan Golden spent 15 years as a journalist at daily newspapers in Kansas, South Carolina and Nebraska. A resident of Omaha since 2013, he worked at the Omaha World-Herald for six years in various newsroom roles, editing or reporting stories on almost everything in the state except sports. He’s particularly fond of obscure government documents and dense reports.

Erin Grace

Erin Grace works in strategic communications. Prior to that, she was a metro columnist at the Omaha World-Herald, where she spent 21 years. She is a former Teach for America teacher and an Omaha native.

Destiny Herbers

Destiny is a Roy W. Howard fellow through the Scripps Howard Foundation. She earned her master’s degree in journalism at the University of Maryland. While at UMD, she covered NASA and Congress for Capital News Service, reporting on everything from cheese served at state dinners to future missions to Mars. She worked on the Howard Center’s award-winning project, “Mega Billons,” an investigation of state lotteries, and was part of an ongoing Associated Press investigation into law enforcement practices. When she isn’t reporting, Destiny loves swing dancing and thrift shopping.

Lauryn Higgins

Lauryn Higgins is a journalist whose work has focused primarily on public health, climate change and agriculture. Her work tracking the coronavirus for the New York Times was part of a team that won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

Catharine Huddle

Catharine Huddle was a reporter and editor at the Lincoln Journal and the Lincoln Journal Star for nearly 39 years. She left the paper in 2017 but still loves the Zoo Bar family.

Lydia Kang

Dr. Lydia Kang practices internal medicine at Nebraska Medicine and is a professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She’s the co-author of a new book on pandemics, “Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases” to be released in November. Kang is an author of young adult novels, historical fiction and nonfiction. Her novel, “The November Girl” won a 2018 Nebraska Book Award.

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly, retired after 48 years at the Omaha World-Herald, covered police, courts and city hall, served a decade as sports editor and sports columnist and then wrote a general-interest column three or four times a week. He received the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ 2003 national award for commentary and column-writing, and in 2021 was inducted into the eight-state Great Plains Journalism Hall of Fame. He authored the World-Herald book “Uniquely Omaha” and in retirement wrote a book about Omaha business and civic leader Michael B. Yanney and his family.

Abiola Kosoko

Jazari Kual

Jazari Kual is a social media personality, and the founder & owner of Kualdom, a conglomerate with several different business lines. Growing up in Lincoln Jazari was involved in the arts and developed a passion for film and photography. When he’s not busy running his businesses, Jazari enjoys traveling, spending time with his family, and volunteering/giving back to his community — all while vlogging his experiences.

Cindy Lange-Kubick

Cindy Lange-Kubick began her writing career at the “Malcolm News,” penned on her popo’s Mobil Oil invoices in her grandparents’ home in the small Lancaster County town. She returned to journalism years later as a harried mother of three, and happily spent the next 28 years writing columns at the Lincoln Journal Star. When she cleaned out her desk in August 2021, she carted home her three prized possessions: The Robert T. Morse Award for excellence in mental health reporting from the American Psychiatric Association, the Great Plains Journalism Award for column writing and a handmade plaque from her cribbage partner Stan, in honor of a once-in-a-lifetime feat: a perfect 29 hand.

Isa Luzarraga

Isa is from Omaha and graduated from Millard North High School in 2021. She is currently an honors student at Emerson College in Boston studying journalism and media studies. Outside of freelancing, you can always find Isa running, reading, and exploring Boston’s Theater District.

Jarrod McCartney

Born and raised in Red Cloud, Jarrod McCartney has family roots in Webster County that stretch back to 1871. A 2003 graduate of Hastings College, McCartney completed his PhD coursework at the University of Oklahoma, then taught at OU, Kansas State University, Oklahoma City Community College, and Central Community College. McCartney has been Red Cloud’s heritage tourism development director since 2015. He has also served as president of the Nebraska Travel Association, and is currently president of the Red Cloud Community Fund.

Liz McCue

Liz McCue is a Lincoln-based photographer and writer. She grew up in Omaha, attended Hastings College, and has worked at the Hastings Tribune, the Omaha World-Herald and the North Platte Telegraph. She currently does marketing and communications at Doane University. Outside of her full-time and freelance work, Liz likes to go on adventures with her spouse, snuggle with their cat, read comics and carry her camera everywhere in case there’s good light.

Evelyn Mejia

Evelyn Mejia is a junior at UNL studying journalism with a minor in Spanish. Born and raised in Norfolk, NE, she graduated from Norfolk Senior High in 2020. One of her stories was part of a series of stories that won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Award in 2022. Upon graduation in May 2024, she would like to continue working in investigative journalism.

Roseann Moring

In a decade of writing in and about Nebraska, Roseann Moring has covered government at every level, politics and public safety. Her work led to public officials’ government-related text messages being considered an open record in the state, and she’s been recognized by the Great Plains Journalism Awards multiple times.

 

Andrew J. Nelson

Andrew J. Nelson is a longtime Nebraska journalist who worked for more than a decade as a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald after stints at the Lincoln Journal Star and newspapers in Alabama and Mississippi. He now freelances and serves as the Nebraska reporter for Courthouse News Service. He lives in Omaha with his wife and two cats.

Brady Oltmans

Brady Oltmans is a native of Nelson with over a decade in journalism covering sports and news. He started part-time at the Lincoln Journal Star and was most recently a staff beat reporter for Nebraska Cornhuskers football and recruiting. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, Associated Press, Seattle Times and beyond. Brady enjoys telling stories of his home state when he’s not walking his dog.

Jordan Pascale

Lori Potter

Lori Potter spent most of her nearly 44-year Nebraska newspaper career reporting on agriculture, natural resources and rural issues for the Kearney Hub. She’s also a veteran of the York News-Times and Alliance Times-Herald. Potter is president of the Nebraska Press Women and past president of the National Federation of Press Women.

 

Owen Reimer

Owen Reimer is a student journalist currently studying journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While focusing on schoolwork, he currently works as a news reporter at the Daily Nebraskan, while writing for the Nebraska News Service. When he’s not writing or studying, Owen likes to listen to and record music.

 

Melissa Rosales

Melissa Rosales has been a reporter and producer at Nebraska Public Media since 2020. The Philippines native previously worked at GBH, Boston’s local public radio station and wrote columns and produced podcasts for her college newspaper. Melissa’s work is also seen in The Boston Globe and The Somerville Times. When she’s not reporting, she can usually be found driving around town, steaming dumplings or watching Chopped. She is a graduate of Emerson College.

Emma Schartz

John Shorey

John Shorey is professor emeritus of history and political science from Iowa Western Community College. His research specialty is baseball and he taught an elective course on Baseball and American Culture for 20 years. His research has been featured in numerous publications and has presented at various conferences, including the Symposium for Baseball and American Culture at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Joe Starita

Joe Starita is a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he long taught many of the college’s depth reporting classes. Before joining the journalism faculty in 2000, Starita spent 13 years at the Miami Herald and served as the paper’s New York bureau chief from 1983-1987. He spent four years on the Herald’s Investigations Team and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting. He returned to his native Nebraska in 1992 and has since written three award-winning books about Native history and culture. “I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice” was the One Book One Nebraska pick for 2012.

Tim Trudell

Tim Trudell is a freelance writer based in Omaha and an enrolled member of the Santee Dakota Tribe. Trudell has co-written three books with his wife Lisa. Together they run a travel blog, thewalkingtourists.com. Trudell has also written for outlets such as The Omaha World-Herald, Omaha Magazine, Nebraska Magazine and Living Here Midwest.

Carson Vaughan

Carson Vaughan is a freelance journalist and the author of Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Outside and more. He’s currently working on his second book, a travelogue through the Nebraska Sandhills, for W.W. Norton & Company.

Michael Wunder

Michael Wunder, raised in Omaha and now residing in Lincoln, studied journalism at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and currently serves as Nebraska Community Foundation’s community storyteller. In the last 10-plus years he has worked in copywriting, technical writing and journalism – including at weekly newspapers in rural Lancaster County. Outside of writing, he enjoys spending time outdoors, playing music and reading way too much Wikipedia.