Ask this woman how to make Omaha the coolest place to live in the midwest, and she may swiftly reply that teaching people to code and creating more tech jobs is the surest way to do it.
As an Omaha native with Bachelor's and Master's MIS degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and co-founder of Interface Web School, Shonna Dorsey can easily back up her claims having created one of the first tech program of its kind in the region resulting in jobs with salaries averaging $51k, as reported by graduates. Now in its fourth year of operations, the school has provided training and career advancement opportunities for hundreds of aspiring tech professionals.
When Shonna began Interface Web School back in 2014, she would soon be surprised of the growth in not only the program but her own career. Quickly Shonna’s accomplishments catapulted her into rooms with other leading workforce directors across the state. In these rooms, she advocated for the importance of offering tech educational programs to empower future generations.
“I think that more people need access to more opportunities,” Shonna says. “Also I want them to see that they can stay in this city and do great things. They don’t have to leave Omaha to do it.”
This leadership led to Shonna’s receipt of some of the city's highest recognitions including Ten Outstanding Young Omahans award, Midland’s Business Journal 40 under 40 and Small Business of the month with Greater Omaha Chamber. But her accolades do not direct Shonna’s business decisions. It’s the meaning behind the work that moves her.
Shonna started her advocacy in technology hosting meetup groups to encourage local participation in coding and web development. Her ambitions eventually surpassed her expectations most recently with the sale of Interface Web School to AIM Institute where she now serves as the Vice President of Tech Education. The new leadership position allows Shonna to use her maven-style business skills to influence the foundation of what is considered one of the leading workforce development organizations in the country.
But that’s not all.
At the beginning of 2017, Shonna developed a new partnership with 75 North in hopes of taking tech workforce development to yet another level.
“When we first started working with 75 North, our students built a residential website for the Highlander. Our latest project is a community-based joint venture consulting and training company designed to provide tech training to candidates looking to gain career access to Omaha’s growing IT sector.
Providing a platform that allows room for new careers and economic growth makes this partnership that much more valuable, in Shonna’s eyes. Being a graduate of North High, she knows that talent retention can help alleviate some of the workforce issues that north Omaha is currently facing.
As Shonna’s ambitions grow and efforts to further empower the talent of Omaha to stay, it’s evident that the partnership with 75 North is a worthy effort on her behalf. She says she wants to ensure that her work helps expand tech talent development and retention.
If you want to see Shonna speak or keep up with her efforts, she is easy to reach via Twitter on @Shonna_Dorsey or you can wait to witness the soon-to-be released partnership with 75 North and join the campaign to build up Omaha’s future talent.
About the Writer - JoAnna LeFlore is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Nebraska. As an advocate for celebrating culture, she shares her experiences regularly on her blog at joannaleflore.com. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter at @leflorecreative.
About the Photographer - Davie Grams, LLC is a Nebraska based business whose purpose is to provide photography services and community outreach through various programs and projects. Follow the Davie Grams trail on Instagram @davie_gram, and Facebook @Davie Grams, LLC