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Meet Our Team

Children’s Center for the Child and Community staff work with community leaders, early childhood educators, child care providers, school systems, health systems and community partners to help every child reach their full potential. This dedicated team includes:

Karla Lester, M.D., Medical Director
Dr. Lester provides leadership for the development and implementation of the Center’s Impact Plan to produce measurable impacts on children’s health in targeted communities.  She is also the  Medical Director at Children’s HEROES weight management clinic in Lincoln.

Debra Tomek, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Community Partnerships 
Dr. Tomek provides  leadership for community collaborations around the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and Children’s Implementation Plan.     She is also the  Medical Advisor at Building Healthy Futures in Omaha. 

Holly Dingman, MS, RD, Manager
Holly manages the Center staff and business operations, including grant oversight, contracts, budget and strategic planning.

Rick Helweg, Community Outreach Coordinator
Rick conducts key outreach activities across the Lincoln community to ensure partner engagement and alignment with Center initiatives. He currently focuses his efforts to define and enhance an early childhood health work group centered on health, family engagement and quality early development activities in partnership with Prosper Lincoln. 

Emily Hulse, MS, Community Program Coordinator
Emily coordinates Go NAP SACC efforts statewide in partnership with the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, Nebraska Department of Education and UNL Extension. This program engages child care centers and home child care providers in best practices supporting healthy eating, physical activity and breastfeeding.

Jen Martens, MPH, Community Program Coordinator
Jen coordinates Project ECHO, a telementoring initiative of Children’s Center and internal partners including Children’s Physicians, IT, Children’s Health Network, CME, and Specialty Clinics. Jen will also coordinate the UNL Extension Learning Child Webinar Series.

Colleen Svoboda, MPH, Community Program Coordinator
Colleen coordinates the Child Obesity Prevention Learning Collaborative which includes training and evaluation support for the Preventing Childhood Obesity Grants in partnership with UNMC College of Public Health and Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition.