MEET OUR STAFF
Click on each staff member to view their bio.
Founder & Executive Director
Dr. Patricia NewmanFounder & 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 was awarded the 2022 School Mental Health Champion Award at the Nebraska School Mental Health Conference. She is the playwright of two of RESPECT’s plays.
Associate Executive Director
Ilana WeissAssociate 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.
Program & Development Manager
Paige BrennemanProgram & 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.
Michele PhillipsCo-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.
Aiden PolingCo-Artistic Director
Aiden is a professional actor, visual artist, singer-songwriter, coach, and creator from Shreveport, Louisiana and is a recent transplant to the Omaha area. Aiden graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana with BFAs in both Theatre and Studio Art, and both areas
of study have allowed him opportunities to succeed not only on stage but behind the scenes, as well. Aiden believes in bringing diverse, inclusive, and truthful story-telling to life and making the arts accessible to all communities. He is excited to have joined the team at RESPECT and looks forward to planting some roots in the Omaha arts community.
Education and Training Director
Kathleen McGeeEducation 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.
Christina is an Omaha transplant originally from Sarasota, Florida. In 2021, Christina graduated from Buena Vista University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre & Media Performance as well as two minors in English and Gender Studies. Since living in Omaha, she has taught multiple classes, camps, and workshops for Omaha Community Playhouse and the Rose. One of Christina’s goals for the next year is to go back to school for a Master’s degree in Creative Writing, specifically for theatre.
Prior to joining RESPECT, Brandon taught physical education for 2 years at Nelson Mandela Elementary. He has been a golf instructor for 13 years working with kids from as young as 6 to as old as 17. Locally, Brandon has been involved in several plays, notably at the Omaha Community Playhouse, Stick Fly and A raisin in the Sun and has a goal to make a career in film. He looks forward to furthering his experience and growth not just as an actor but also an educator as well.