Click on each staff member to view their bio.

  • Founder & Executive Director
    Dr. Patricia Newman
    Founder & Executive Director

    Dr. Patricia Newman is a Clinical Child Psychologist and the Founder and Executive Director of RESPECT. She also holds graduate degrees in Educational Psychology and Special Education. Dr. Newman is in private practice with Family Enrichment, Inc. and works as a Medical Consultant for the Nebraska Department of Disability Determinations. She is the recipient of several professional and community awards including the Y/WCA Tribute to Women Award for her work in the areas of Human Service and Community Advocacy; the Nebraska School Psychologists Association “Psychologist of the Year” award; the Cultural Adult Program Award from the United Way of the Midlands; the Leadership Award for Prevention of Domestic Violence Programming from the Y/WCA; and the Community Service Award from the Jewish Federation of Omaha. Dr. Newman is the playwright of two of RESPECT’s plays.

    Email Dr. Newman

  • Associate Executive Director
    Ilana Weiss
    Associate Executive Director

    Ilana is a native of the East Coast and graduated from Yeshiva University, earning a Bachelor of Arts. Upon graduation, the university awarded her a Presidential Graduate Fellowship, during which she participated in graduate courses related to nonprofit management and worked in the university’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions in the areas of public relations, event planning, and systems management. Prior to moving to Omaha, Ilana lived in such places as Jerusalem, where she worked in the Fundraising Department of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, as well as Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she served as a Jewish educator and program coordinator. Ilana has been loving every minute of her work with RESPECT since she joined the organization in 2010.

    Email Ilana

  • Program & Development Manager
    Paige Brenneman
    Program & Development Manager

    In 2016, Paige graduated with a Bachelors degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha through the College of Public Affairs and Community Service with a concentration in Nonprofit Administration and a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. During Paige’s college career she spent her service learning project with the Women’s Center for Advancement as a group leader for the Girls Leadership Academy. Since starting her work with RESPECT in 2017, Paige has expanded her knowledge in nonprofit development and management. She looks forward to her growth within the organization and continuing to build relationships with community partners.

  • Co-Artistic Director
    Michele Phillips
    Co-Artistic Director

    Michele was born in New Jersey, raised in Omaha and is a graduate of UNO with a Bachelor of Arts/Dramatic Arts degree. She has acted and/or directed in nearly every theatrical venue in the metro. Michele teaches TV Screenwriting at UNO and is a teaching artist for the Nebraska Arts Council. In addition to workshops for WHY ARTS with special needs students, Michele teaches at two area middle schools in the OPS After-School Program for Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company. She is the resident playwright for RESPECT.

  • Co-Artistic Director
    Sam Zarders
    Co-Artistic Director

    Born and raised in Omaha, Samantha has been acting for over 10 years and is passionate about theatre for social change. In addition to her work with RESPECT, she works as a freelance teaching artist, director and actor throughout the metro area. Samantha is currently a student at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, on track to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Arts Management. She has been involved in several productions in Omaha including The Omaha Community Playhouses’, (James and the Giant Peach, Rock of Ages, City of Angels) The Rose Theatre’s, (Newsies) and Kerfuffle’s production of Nested, at The Union For Contemporary Art. Samantha strives to empower communities through her work and discover new ways to create impactful theatre programming.

  • Education and Training Director
    Kathleen McGee
    Education and Training Director

    For more than 35 years, Kathleen Sorensen McGee has worked with, and on behalf of children and teens – as a classroom teacher, a trainer, an author and a public speaker. She has written more than 20 books and articles including Unmasking Sexual Con Games: Helping Teens Avoid Emotional Grooming and Dating Violence, Who’s Raising Your Child: Battling the Marketers for Your Child’s Heart and Soul and There are NO Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter, all published by the Boys Town Press. Kathie has presented workshops nationwide on bullying, teen dating violence, the influence of media, as well as sexual harassment and abuse. She earned both her BA and MA from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.


  • Kerron

    Kerron is the creator and host of, “Mister K’s Clubhouse”, an educational children’s program available on YouTube and KPAO Public Access TV, aimed at children ages 2 to 7 years of age. Graduating from Omaha South High School, Kerron was heavily involved in the performing arts. In the community, Kerron has been involved with theatres such as Radio Theatre Omaha, The Chanticleer Theatre, and the Blue Barn stage. When not filming Mister K’s Clubhouse or appearing in a theatre production, Kerron spends his time, writing and recording music and being an active, involved part of the North Omaha community with a mission to impact the youth in a positive and loving way.

  • Donovaughn

    Donovaughn is an Omaha native. In addition to his work with RESPECT, he is working with children at the Omaha Children’s Museum during programs and as part of the OCM’s summer camps. He is also currently acting in and around Omaha for the Dinner Detective. His dream is to someday reach Broadway as a performer.

  • Julia
    Julia was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. The performing arts have been her greatest passions as long as she can remember. After graduating from high school, Julia decided to take some time to pursue theatre on a local level in addition to continuing vocal lessons. She has been in numerous productions at the Omaha Community Playhouse, including Man of La Mancha, A Christmas Carol, Beauty and the Beast, Singin’ in the Rain, and Fun Home. She is a proud member of the RESPECT team, as she believes theatre and the arts can affect change in such monumental ways.
  • Manny

    Manny has been in Omaha his entire life and is blessed to give back through his work with RESPECT. Manny has done work at multiple theatres in town, including the Rose, the Shelterbelt, the Lofte and the Omaha Community Playhouse. Manny enjoys playing sports, writing and cooking in his free time. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Manny is excited to be doing programs in person once again and looks forward to what the future holds.

  • Nola

    An Omaha native, Paige Nola is an actor, bassist, and fiber artist. A UNO music graduate, she plays for many theaters in Omaha as well as Esencia Latina, a 14-piece salsa band. In October 2018, she joined the cast of The Dinner Detective, an improv murder mystery show in Omaha and Lincoln. Nola spent June 2019 studying at the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and fell in love with film acting. Nola is very active in the local film scene and can be seen in A Day with Lily (2021), Bricking and Entering (2021), and Inner Worlds (2022). Nola loves crafting, all things chocolate, a good gel pen, training her dogs, and laughing with her husband.