Rebecca Stavick is the executive director of Do Space, a digital library, tech space and community lab located on 72nd and Dodge in Omaha, Nebraska. The space opened last November thanks to the efforts of Heritage Services and community leaders. Since it’s opening, Do Space has had over 70,000 visits and continues to develop new programs in tech education for the community.
This week we caught up with Rebecca to ask her about Do Space, the future of the Omaha tech community and her best advice to jobseekers.
AIM: Why is Do Space essential to Omaha?
RS: Do Space is a one of a kind project, there’s nothing quite like it in the country. There are actually still a lot of people in Omaha that do not have access to a computer or the internet at home, which makes it difficult for them to get ahead in their careers and education. Heritage Services wanted to help solve this issue in Omaha, so they did a lot of research on cities that have similar problems, came back and started to design this space.
This location is actually on the busiest intersection in the state, over 90,000 cars drive through it daily. We’re also on a transit hub which makes it easier to get here by bus than any other location in town. So if there was one place where we could build this project to make it as accessible to as many people as possible, it’s here.
We’re really challenging the Omaha community by saying, “Here are all these tools, what are you going to do with them to better yourself, your life, your future and the future of the city.”
AIM: What does your role include as the Executive Director of Do Space?
RS:The last year of my life has probably been a lot different than what it will be next year. I have been the director for a little over a year now. When I started I was the only employee and the building was still being demoed.
So the past year I’ve really kind of launched a startup. I dreamt up the organizational chart, the job descriptions, hired a management team and recruited 17 employees all before we launched in early November.
AIM: Why is this place so important to you?
RS: I’ve always been really passionate about technology. When I got into grad school I totally fell in love with emerging technology and technology forecasting. I really started to understand the power of how technology is changing society and our culture as well as the power it has to change individual lives.
As a former OPL employee, I was the liaison between the different tech communities and the library, trying to figure out ways we could support each other. So for me, this a lot about opportunity for the community.
AIM: How do you see Do Space impacting the future of Omaha?
RS: This is the first time in Omaha where anyone in the community can get free access to gigabit internet, Mac computers, Adobe creative suite, really big 3D printers, plus a ton of other resources.
There are some other spaces in the country that are starting to have spaces like these, but for Omaha it really puts us on the map to compete with other bigger cities.
Thinking about where technology is going in the country, Do Space is about how can we make sure that Omaha not only has access to bigger technology, but how we can inspire those to take their digital skills to the next level.
AIM: How would you attempt at solving the issue of diversity in the tech field?
RS: This is really important to me. Ensuring that there are women and minorities in leadership makes a huge difference.
I’ve been able to run groups where it is 50/50 men and women, and I believe it’s because of the leadership prioritizing diversity, as well as the group making it a priority to reach out to more women and minorities.
Some people just need a personal invite and to dream a little about what their life would be like in that industry. We just need to get out into the community, shake some hands and reach out with that invitation.
AIM: Do you have any side passion projects?
RS: I’m working with people in the tech community right now to rebrand Tech Omaha, a community calendar for tech events. We want to relaunch it and make it bigger. There are a lot of tech events and meetups in the city and we want to consolidate all of those leaders of the groups to help support them.
We’re launching a happy hour event during Big Omaha that will be at the Slowdown. It’s free to get in if you’re a Big Omaha attendee and it’s just a great opportunity to network.
AIM: If you had one piece of advice for those looking to change up their career, what would it be?
RS: I read somewhere that if you’re facing this issue you should Google yourself, see what’s out there, envision what you would want to see and start working towards those goals. I’ve always thought that was great advice.
Are you interested in finding a career at Do Space? Check out the latest openings here.
Brilliant People of Omaha: A series of discovery.
Welcome to Brilliant People of Omaha. In this series we will sit down with local brilliant individuals who love their jobs, have excellent career advice and are ready to share their story about how they came into their current position.
We will talk to a variety of people in this series including: developers, designers, managers, CEOs, interns, etc. Everyone has a story, and we are here to uncover it and see what we can learn from the brilliant people around us.
Do you have someone you’d like to nominate as a brilliant person of Omaha? Drop Melanie Lucks a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Do Space is ran by a Community Information Trust and is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization formed by Heritage Services and launched with private donations.