The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce has announced that Nebraska native Heath Mello will take over as CEO and president of the business organization effective Aug. 2, his 44th birthday.
A former Nebraska state senator and Omaha mayoral candidate, Mello most recently has served as a lobbyist and vice president of external relations for the University of Nebraska system.
During his eight years in the Legislature, Mello served four years as chair of the Appropriations Committee. He also served on the Nebraska Retirement Systems Committee.
Chamber representatives said in a news release that Mello brings a breadth of experience in public policy, fundraising and community leadership that should help him grow business and economic development in Omaha and eastern Nebraska.
“He is passionate about our community and has devoted his career to ensuring it is a great place to live, to prepare our next-generation workforce, and to do business,” said Carmen Tapio, chamber board chair.
Tapio served on the search committee along with Tim Burke, interim president and CEO of the Chamber, and Derek Leathers, chairman and CEO of Werner Enterprises.
“Heath Mello has been a great friend and strategic partner during his time at the University of Nebraska, and he’s proven his commitment to our state and communities throughout his career,” said Ted Carter, president of the NU system. “We are fortunate that Heath will continue to call Omaha home and that he will continue to shape and influence the greater Omaha region.”
A graduate of Gretna High School, Mello received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He has served on various state and regional boards and councils, including as chair of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry Education Policy Council and as a member of the Nebraska Advisory Committee for Global Leadership Coalition. He was a commissioner on the Nebraska Educational Telecommunication Commission.
Mello ran for Omaha and was defeated in 2017 by incumbent Mayor Jean Stothert.
He follows interim CEO and president Burke, who filled in temporarily after Veta Jeffery abruptly exited the CEO/president post less than a year after she started. A press release at the time offered no reason.
Jeffery, a former chief diversity officer for the State of Missouri’s St. Louis County, replaced longtime chamber head David Brown, who retired after 20 years.
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