Since 1994 individuals who have significantly served the safety and health, injury-prevention mission of the National Safety Council, Nebraska have been inducted into our “Safety and Health Hall of Fame.”
Recipients are recognized for their vision and inspirational leadership, for influencing influencers, their dedication to safety and ambassadorship of the mission, and their support and encouragement which builds a strong foundation and gives an exceptional staff the power and confidence to move the Council forward to serve the entire state. Hall of Fame members are leaders, advisors, organizers, visionaries, and advocates. They all show a strong personal commitment to safety, while rallying community support for safety, and are generous with their resources for the benefit of others.
Do you know someone who has dedicated their life to safety? Please let us know about those individuals across the state who are deserving of this honor. Nominations come from many Nebraska sources and are considered by the Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. Individuals are elected to the Hall of Fame by the Board of Directors of the National Safety Council, Nebraska.
Meet Members of the Hall of Fame
Below are the people who give our society its character and improve the quality of life in Nebraska.
A retired US Air Force colonel, Ed Burchfield’s tenure on the National Safety Council, Nebraska’s Board of Directors included holding many roles, including Chairman of the Board. His leadership, drive to succeed, and love for the Council has helped our organization go from simply serving the Omaha metro area to going state-wide. The Council has directly and indirectly impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands more citizens.
Ed’s experience working for the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, coupled with acting as Director of Global Security and Facilities Management and Assistant to the Chairman at Valmont Industries helped the National Safety Council, Nebraska excel in developing the security and workplace violence subjects.
Serving the National Safety Council, Nebraska for over 22 years, Dave Stolp is a Senior Safety Consultant and Instructor who has directly affected over 50,000 students and delivered over 35,000 hours of training, consulting, and presentations.
With over 30 years working in the field of safety, Dave is an OSHA authorized Outreach Trainer. He has helped countless companies strengthen their compliance with OSHA and DOT regulations while helping to develop a strong culture of safety within their organizations. He receives outstanding evaluations from his students and is lauded for his real-world safety experience and how he translates that to the classroom.
2014 Kay Farrell
Kay Farrell was inducted in to the Nebraska Safety and Health Hall of Fame at the Safety and Health Summit in May, 2014 in front of nearly 1,000 luncheon attendees. Kay’s leadership of the National Safety Council, Nebraska for 24 years and her commitment to safety was honored at the event. Farrell served as President/CEO of the National Safety Council, Nebraska from 1988 to February 1, 2013. Under her leadership the Council moved twice to accommodate a growing staff and increasing training programs. Over that time period the Council (originally the Omaha Safety Council) grew from $450,000 to about $5 million in gross revenue, from a staff of 7 to 101 (23 program and administrative personnel and 78 part time instructors), and served a membership of nearly 1,000. The last year of Kay’s presidency the chapter was asked to serve the entire state of Nebraska as the only National Safety Council Chapter in Nebraska.
In 1997 she was a recipient of both the Great Plains Chapter and Region IV Safety Professional of the Year Awards from the American Society of Safety Engineers. In 2013, Kay was honored again with the Great Plains Safety Professional of the Year Award.
Through her volunteer stewardship in Rotary, Kay continues the volunteer service she enjoyed for many years in the Omaha Symphony Guild, the Junior League of Omaha, Children’s Hospital Guild, Clarkson Hospital Guild and PTA. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity and PEO.
Fred Zwonechek was inducted into the Nebraska Safety and Health Hall of Fame for the significant changes that have occurred under his leadership since 1981. Over the past 30 years Nebraska’s total crashes have decreased 24%, fatality rate from crashes decreased 24%, alcohol related fatalities decreased 73%, seat belt usage increased to 84%, and the observed child restraint usage rate increased to 95.1%. Zwonechek has 38 years of experience in highway safety related administration and programming. Since 1974, he has been with the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, being selected as the state Highway Safety Administrator in 1981. He has also served as Interim Director of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. Zwonechek has served as the state Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program Administrator since 1996. He has served on the Governor’s Highway Safety Association Executive Board for many years working to promote the nation’s traffic safety programs and initiatives. Zwonechek has been involved in many national safety organizations and campaign initiatives. He is an experienced peer review highway safety assessment team participant for many other state’s alcohol, traffic records, and underage drinking program related assessments. Zwonechek is a graduate of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He has worked and is involved with federal, state and local government agencies, hospitals, local health department, law enforcement, non-profit organizations, professional agencies and other vital partners. He sees all of these agencies as vital partners and collaborators in traffic safety issues.
David Ambrose, PhD, retired professor of marketing, University of Nebraska at Omaha, generously served as a volunteer member of the board of directors from 1988 to 2009. Thirteen of those years he served on the executive committee representing marketing and public relations, occupational safety and health, and development. Providing his marketing expertise and resources from the University to the Council, he influenced the efforts that brought tremendous growth to the Council .He served as chairman of the board in 1993 and 1994. Early on he recognized the potential of the Council and the need for expanded headquarters and supported the Council's expansion. He guided the Council through a 10 year projection which helped us determine the possibilities and certainty of the Council’s growth and value to the community. Through this process he help the Board gain the realization and have the confidence that the Council could support its own headquarters. As a member of the Foundation Task Force, Ambrose wrote the case statement and developed our flag concept. David Ambrose was an early proponent of the STOP program offering research showing that fewer accidents were occurring in areas targeted by Council training. His tremendous influence in the Council's growth and activities continues today.
Nebraska Senator Daniel C. Lynch
Nebraska Senator Dan Lynch suffered a tremendous loss in his life, May 5, 1977 when his son-in-law was killed in a motorcycle crash. The emotional impact on Dan’s life was tremendous and he became steadfast in his resolve to have a helmet law enacted through the Nebraska legislature. Finally with a one vote margin he accomplished his goal with the law taking effect in 1989. Fred Zwonechek explains, “In the 21 years prior to the effective date of the Nebraska universal helmet law, a total of 566 motorcyclists lost their lives compared to only 258 that have been killed since helmets have been required. Considering additional motorcycles on the road the reduction in the fatality rate has been huge. And remember, for each fatality prevented, there are multiple severe head injuries that have also been prevented. “
Originally a plumber by trade, Lynch retired as VP of consumer affairs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska. He has served his community well through leadership roles in the Nebraska Association of County Officials; National Association of Counties; Eastern Nebraska Office of Retardation; Eastern Nebraska Human Services Agency; Douglas County Hospital Board of Trustees; Douglas County Board of Commissioners; Health Planning Council of the Midlands; Metropolitan Area Planning Association; Omaha-Douglas County Health Board; BlueCross/Blue Shield of Nebraska Board of Directors, and the President’s Council on Intergovernmental Affairs. He served in the Nebraska Legislature from 1984 to 2000.
William T. ‘Bill’ Oakes, retired attorney from Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, generously served as a volunteer member of the board of directors, the executive and administration committees in addition to serving as legal counsel from 1982 to 2009. During his twenty seven years of service, he guided the Council through the important growth phases that took legal expertise including the move from 24th and St. Mary’s to 87th and F, the land purchase , contracts for designing and building the current headquarters at 120th and M Circle, and other contracts, especially the Safety Training Option Plan which now provides long term traffic education/diversion services to the citizens in the greater Omaha area. As the same time he was a strong advocate for everything related to safety and brought support from his organization as well.
W. Richard ‘Rick’ Russell, President and CEO of Millard Lumber Company was inducted into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame October 22, 2010 at Soiree. As chairman of the successful million dollar Capital Program Campaign in 1999 and 2000, Russell was instrumental in raising the dollars to establish new programs to serve the greater Omaha community. He served on the board of directors for ten years, on the Corporate Leadership Committee, Executive Committee and was Chairman of the Board for 2001 and 2002. Today he continues his generosity providing the Motorcycle Safety Training Program with a range at Millard Lumber Company.
Mayor Mike Fahey has contributed tremendously to the vision and mission of the National Safety Council, Greater Omaha Chapter. He has given strong support to public safety as he has presided over the engineering and law enforcement aspects of traffic safety during a time in which the City of Omaha and Douglas County have seen unparalleled success. Douglas County traffic crash injuries have been reduced by 47% in the past 10 years and motor vehicle traffic crashes have been reduced by 42%. Mayor Fahey has recognized the Safety Council’s important role in reducing these crashes as the educational arm of traffic safety.
He has been supportive of STOP, the Council’s Safety Training Option Plan which has indeed made a difference in our traffic safety in the City of Omaha and Douglas County.
Designation by the World Health Organization of the five-county Greater Omaha metropolitan area as a Safe Community was an important milestone. The support of Mayor Mike Fahey and the City of Omaha in our efforts to get the 5-county area designated as a Safe Community was especially significant as our area is only the 4th designated in the United States and 113th in the world. According to the World Health Organization, support of injury prevention by our government leaders is critical to the aspirations of a Safe Community and Mayor Mike Fahey has proven to be the epitome of a supportive government leader.
Alan Simon, chairman, Omaha Steaks International, greatly influenced the Council’s progress and growth during his tenure as board member, 1995-2006. Serving on the executive committee during his terms as chair of the corporate leadership committee followed by chair of the development committee, Simon was influential in the Council’s investment into its owner occupied headquarters. He was also a strong proponent and volunteer in the million dollar capital campaign held to raise dollars for program growth.
Alan Simon stressed community as the number one reason for the Council’s being and placed it at the pinnacle of our organization.
He took his membership on the Safety Council board of directors to heart. Not only did he positively affect the Council, he affected his employees and the community in the way of safety. Omaha Steaks invests in their people. His company, Omaha Steaks, is proof positive that every dollar spent on safety returns four dollars in profit. For Omaha Steaks it’s likely far more. Omaha Steaks received the Chapter’s Award of Honor with Distinction in 2006 based on outstanding safety and health programs for five consecutive years.
He also provided tremendous support of the Council’s Child Passenger Safety program and Safety and Health Summit. Omaha Steaks will sponsor the Safety and Health Summit through 2011.
High energy, humorous yet all business when appropriate, characterizes the leadership of John Mock, chairman of the board of directors 1995-1996. In the early to mid-nineties, the Council experienced tremendous growth, so when Mr. Mock became chair, the challenges to serve a growing staff, expanded programming, a growing membership and community following were imminent.
A building fund was established, strategic business units were developed, and procedures and benefits were put in place to attract and retain quality staff. Mr. Mock was a newcomer to the Omaha community in 1990. We are grateful that his compassion for service and volunteerism brought him to the Council and dedicated service from 1990 – 2004.
Owen Neary greatly influenced the Council’s progress and growth during his tenure as a board member from 1987 – 2004. Steadfast in his concern for others, Mr. Neary appreciated safety and promoted it not only through the Council and its members but in his own life. A great example for others and well known in the Omaha community, Mr. Neary was able to attract others of influence to the Council board. During his chairmanship of the board of directors, he saw the successful completion and dedication of the Council’s new home at 11620 M Circle, the first development campaign and he guided the Greater Omaha Chapter through the multifaceted process to become the first independent chapter to sign as a joint membership chapter of the National Safety Council.
Bruce Tresslar, senior vice president of Peter Kiewit & Sons was honored for his tremendous support as a board member. He served our mission well, chairing our EXPO, and administration committees and serving as a member of the capital campaign, marketing and executive committees. It was during this time period that the Council was challenged with huge growth and the needs for staff and space. He provided great insight and guidance in the board of directors’ facility search followed by the building site search and planning, budgeting and oversight to the building project.
Mr. Tresslar’s interest, concern and advice from his perspective as a member of the Kiewit team coupled with his Council concern and experience gave the Council invaluable expertise in the development of our current home.
Don Begley retired recently from the National Safety Council board of directors after more than 30 years of service to the Council. Beginning in the late 1960s Mr. Begley began working with the Council to promote fire safety. He used his own resources at his own expense to educate others
He provided school demonstrations to educate children and their teachers, neighborhood demonstrations to educate families, always using his employees, his fire pans, extinguishers, volunteers and other equipment to provide the education.
The Knights of AkSarBen were very concerned about safety and worked with the Council to educate community-wide.
In the 70s with the Council they sponsored gigantic fire show demonstrations at AkSarBen in front of the grandstand complete with high school marching bands and booths. Don Begley donated his services and resources to these events.
Mr. Begley began his service as a board member in 1983 serving as chairman of occupational safety and health programs for six years, chairman of membership for two years and chairman of the board of directors for two years.
Mr. Begley is the epitome of the ‘servant leader’. He was one who given the ability to serve and lead has given our society its character and the National Safety Council, Greater Omaha Chapter the ability to perform. His own genuine concern for the safety of others, service to the Omaha area and wonderful sense of humor highlighted his service to the National Safety Council, Greater Omaha Chapter
In 1993-94, when David Houghton was the President of the Omaha Bar Association, he recognized that juveniles charged with Minor in Possession (MIP)
were sometimes processed in juvenile court and, at other times, in criminal court.
Houghton talked with judges in both the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County and the Douglas County Court about developing a possible MIP diversion program. It was suggested that David Houghton visit with Jim Jansen, the Douglas County Attorney, and Marty Conboy, the Chief Prosecutor for the City of Omaha, to determine eligibility and curriculum guidelines. Through a series of collaborative meetings, the program began through the Safety and Health Council in 1998.
The MIP diversion program provides an opportunity for youth who are charged with first offense MIP to have the charges dismissed while educating them about the risks of underage drinking.
Nearly 1,200 youth have successfully completed the MIP diversion program since its implementation. Several recent studies have proven the program is effective in reducing MIP recidivism.
Our community is indebted to Hall of Fame inductees, David Houghton, Marty Conboy and Jim Jansen for their foresight and leadership for starting the MIP diversion program. This innovative course positively impacts the safety of our community.
Lorraine Giles, retired elementary principal and director of elementary safety for Omaha Public schools, has greatly influenced school safety programs as well as community-wide safety programs for over 40 years. Some have called her the School Safety Queen.
Safety has been her passion – evident in her life style, in her work and in her volunteerism.
Mrs. Giles has been Honorary Captain and Honorary Deputy Chief of the Omaha Police, and Honorary Fire Chief of the Omaha Fire Department for contributions to safety and security, specifically for children. She frequently appeared before the legislature and served as safety chairman of the State PTA, she also serves as consultant for the development of the Nebraska Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Curriculum and for Operation Lifesaver in development of safety videos for national distribution for children addressing railroad and grade crossing safety.
Mrs. Giles received the Governor’s Highway Safety Award for Outstanding Contributions to Highway Safety, the B’Nai B’Rith Award two times, the Omaha Safety Council Service to Mankind Award, the Richmond-Gordman Safety Award, the Outstanding National Volunteer Award for Service to Safety from the National Association of Safety Council Executives and the Distinguished Service to Safety Award from the National Safety Council.
She’s been recognized in the Congressional Record for achievements in elementary education and child safety.
An active member of the Safety and Health Council board of directors from 1959 to 1999, she served as chairman of the board of directors and as executive director on two occasions.
In her Council work, spanning 40 years, Mrs. Giles has strongly advocated for community safety programs, “….these are our programs for goodness and mercy,” she said. She can take credit for everything that has been built in the community safety area. The Council’s beginning safety programs for the schools, such as Safe Walk to School and Pre-School Traffic Training were her inspiration. She pushed hard for the Council to pursue Good Driving Omaha! followed by Arrive Alive and Operation FireSafe!
Increases in driving offenses and increased numbers of offenders in the Omaha courts prompted Gary Bucchino, Omaha City Prosecutor from 1970 to 1994, to seek solutions to ease the pressures on the courts and at the same time provide services that could give the opportunity for much needed education to the driving public. He selected Safety and Health Council defensive driving programs and entrusted the Council wit the design of a system that provided all training, tracking of offenders and administration of the program. Omaha streets are safer because Mr. Bucchino had the foresight to initiate the safety training option plan for traffic offenders in Omaha… a benefit for the entire community.
Jerry Guinane, former executive with Northern Natural Gas Company became a board member of the Council in 1984.
He served as chairman of the administration committee from 1986 – 1988, and then served on the membership committee until his retirement from the board in 1995. Concern for meeting member companies’ safety and health needs prompted Mr. Guinane to spearhead a membership survey through which the Council found great concern for the safe practices in member company workplaces. The concept of a Safe Practices Program and curriculum was formalized, yet dollars were unavailable to fund the program. Mr. Guinane took the member concerns and Council needs to provide the program to his own company and found support within Northern Natural Gas to fund the first Safe Practices in the Workplace Programs through a grant making them available at no charge to member companies. This program continues today as the center piece of member benefits for Council members.
Jon Bischof, retired manager of the Kiewit Construction Company, Omaha Building District, was a member of the board of directors of the Safety and Health Council from 1983 to 1991. He became involved because of the serious safety hazards of the construction industry, but his interests expanded to include chairmanship of both the home, school and child committee and occupational safety and health awards committee.
A personal family tragedy, gave Mr. Bischof the strength and the vision to bring forward Child Safety Day as a Council project. For several years, thousands of families attended Child Safety Day at the Omaha Civic Auditorium where children and parents learned about personal and public safety. Indeed, Mr. Bischof’s influence and Child Safety Day provided a strong beginning for the Council’s excellent child safety programs of today.
His generosity knew no bounds. He provided his own staff to assist in the comprehensive evaluations of other companies’ safety programs for the Occupational Safety and Health Awards Program. And he made his Kiewit staff available for program development, demonstration and training so that other companies could become stronger in safety.
He served the Council and his community well!
Joseph Laferla greatly influenced the growth and focus of the Council from his first day on the Board of Directors through two moves until his retirement 19 years later in 1993. He continues to be a wise and welcome counselor. He served on every committee and as Chairman of the Board for three years. He has been named Board Member Emeritus. He has made a difference! Mr. Laferla attracted very capable and respected business and community leaders to the Board because of his strong personal commitment to safety as the primary mission for every business, home and community.
As a general manager of the Metropolitan Utilities District he rallied community support for programs such as Good Driving Omaha, Arrive Alive and Child Safety Days. Joe Laferla’s legacy is the expansion of effective, continuing community safety programs. The Council’s reputation for excellence and integrity and the exceptional growth of our Council have been achieved by the continuous leadership and dedication of individuals like Joe Laferla.
Robert Ward, retired director of safety for Omaha Public Power District, managed the safety of thousands of employees efficiently and effectively. With resources at his fingertips that could have been the envy of many smaller companies, he shared his knowledge, his contacts and expertise to provide training and other resources through the Council so that others would have a safe workplace. In the ‘60’s and 70’s when the Council did not have the resources and facilities to provide seminars and training sessions in some highly technical areas, Bob Ward worked as a volunteer with the Council staff to locate adequate sites or materials necessary to conduct high quality training in areas such as electrical, fire or trenching safety. He enlisted members of ASSE as volunteers. He was a valuable resource for training videos, library and research materials from all over the country. He served the Council and community well!
Marylois Sckochdopole served as CEO of the Omaha Safety Council from 1982 – 1988. Under her leadership, the quality of Council services created a market outside the Omaha area as industry moved into corporate restructuring and regulatory changes. The Council expanded to a larger facility and developed the STOP program to serve citizens, law enforcement, and the court systems. A name change to the Safety and Health Council of Greater Omaha more accurately described the organization’s expanded direction. She took Council programs into the business community and developed a professional, trained staff, tapping into the ideas, innovations, and know-how of that staff and exceptional community volunteers. Mrs. Skochdopole’s collaborative, and empowering leadership, her expertise and experience in marketing and finance, combined with great personal commitment to the Council’s mission, generated the energy that made Omaha one of the premiere chapters of the National Safety Council.
In the 1970’s Ed Sawyer began his every increasing roll as a volunteer when he directed the Council’s hospital safety committee. Because of his extensive experience as a safety professional, he was a resource for all the Council’s committees and programs. After he retired from positions as safety director, he became a full-time volunteer for the Council. He visited small businesses and assisted them as they implemented compliance reports, hazardous materials handling plans, or waded through a mire of manuals.
He made it possible for the Council to provide exceptional services and programs as they expanded beyond Omaha. The Council’s volunteer extraordinare has been honored by the National Safety Council, the ASSE, the United States Air Force, and B’Nai B’Rith. The Safety and Health Council honors Ed Sawyer for the degree of excellence he brought to the Council as a volunteer.
As Chairman of the board of directors beginning in 1983, Bernard W. Reznicek led the Council during the period of tremendous expansion that developed and shaped the Council as we know it today. He recognized the unique capacities and abilities of the board members, the volunteers and the professional staff. He inspired them to undertake and accomplish even beyond their highest expectations and always credited them for the phenomenal achievements of the Council during his term. Mr. Reznicek brought new energy to the Council by developing strong board committees charged with directing the rapid growth of all aspects of the Council. The team effort established the strong foundations on which we build today. Mr. Reznicek assembled an exceptional professional staff and gave them the power and confidence to more the Council forward.
Judge Walter Cropper
Judge Cropper began his career with the Council in 1967. His leadership on the Municipal Court provided a focus on the need for education and retraining for traffic offenders. As a team, Judge Cropper and Judge Hickman became the primary force working for traffic safety education in the Omaha area. Because of their dedication to developing a comprehensive traffic safety resource in the community, Omaha pedestrians, passengers, and drivers enjoy safer streets.
Kermit Hansen served the Council as president in 1961, 1980, 1981 and 1982. Since the fifties, Mr. Hansen has had a stellar influence on the direction of the Council. Under his leadership, the Board expanded the mission of the Council to serve the greater metropolitan area. He expanded volunteer leadership and monitored the changing business climate enabling the Council to respond immediately to the community and new government regulatory agencies. The Council’s expanded role in safety education and training can be attributed directly to his vision and leadership.
Judge Paul Hickman
Judge Hickman served as Council president in 1978 and 1979. He joined the Council seeking resources for the courts beyond their current options. It was Judge Hickman’s personal dedication to driver education that moved the Council to develop the first defensive driving program for the court system and area businesses. He insisted that the program be closely monitored and constantly improved. Omaha streets are safer because under his leadership the Council pioneered education and training programs.
Ed Rosen, Council president in 1965, provided exceptional and constant leadership for the Council as ambassador for safety. Mr. Rosen never lost his enthusiasm for the message and the mission of the Council. For over fifty years he served as an elected leader, advisor, organizer, and at times a one-man rescue squad. Mr. Rosen also initiated the prestigious B’Nai B’Rith award for contributions to community safety.
11620 M Circle
Omaha, NE 68137
P : 402.896.0454
F : 402.896.6331
Toll-Free : 800.592.9004
Office Hours: Mon-Fri 8am - 4:30pm
In Person Registration: Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm