A great city happens  by design.

A great city doesn’t just happen.

A great city happens by design.

Our Mission

At Omaha by Design, we contribute to a thriving metro by convening, engaging, educating and advocating for excellence in people-centered urban design and policy.

Our Priorities



Encourage engagement with the public in planning and development.



Advocate for best practices and excellence in urban design and policy. 



Educate the community on urban design principles.



Convene, direct and encourage collaboration within the design community.


“We shall leave this city not less but greater, better and more beautiful than it was left to us.”

-Ancient Greek Oath

Green in the City
Green in the City

Green in the City

Omaha by Design is currently serving as project manager for Green in the City, a national design competition to transform a 70’ x 100’ section of Omaha’s urban core into a model green space. The project, located in the 10th and Pacific block, connects with the new home of the BLUEBARN Theatre.


The Vinton Street Project
The Vinton Street Project

The Vinton Street Project

Omaha by Design and its partners continued to chart progress on the Vinton Street Project—a pilot aimed at encouraging the preservation and economic vitality of Omaha’s historic neighborhoods. Using traditional historic preservation tools and the city’s recently enhanced urban design tools, this project gave property owners more options for preserving the character of the Vinton Street corridor.


Public Art Omaha
Public Art Omaha

Public Art Omaha

Omaha by Design partnered with the Omaha Public Art Commission to develop a website, www.publicartomaha.org, that celebrates the important role public art plays in the civic life of our city. The site includes a searchable database of individual works by location, medium and artist. It also allows users to keep tabs on upcoming announcements, locate temporary installations, take a walking tour and sponsor new projects.


Our Founding
Our Founding

Our Founding

The story of Omaha by Design began in 2001 with five words: vibrant, connected, distinctive, sparkling and fun. In a study commissioned by the Omaha Community Foundation, Omahans identified these descriptors as indicators of future “wants” for their city. This set the stage for Lively Omaha – the precursor to the present-day organization – founded by three forward-thinking community philanthropists and business leaders: Bruce Lauritzen, John Gottschalk and Ken Stinson.


A Master Plan for Urban Design
A Master Plan for Urban Design

A Master Plan for Urban Design

In 2002, Lively Omaha partnered with the City of Omaha to help put together a Master Plan – a comprehensive urban design plan that brought together the local public, private and philanthropic sectors of our city. This Master Plan would act as a model for public policy development in the metro, as well as unify a vision for our community’s future. The development process was dubbed “Omaha by Design.”


Meet Our Team

Maria Brady

Maria Brady

Director of Strategic Partnerships

Maria Brady is a highly driven development professional. Through her work, she has a deep understanding that city evolvement is a multidisciplinary process, one which harnesses of the power of education, art, infrastructure, community, and advocacy. By connecting Omaha’s history to its present opportunities and challenges, she believes the city can create a more prosperous, equitable future for all.

Maria was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and received her undergraduate degree from USD in Political Science, History, & Art History. She spent much of her undergraduate career living abroad and began her professional career in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is currently pursuing a dual master’s in International Relations and Law at the University of Western Australia.

Scott Dobbe, AIA

Scott Dobbe, AIA

Executive Director

Scott Dobbe is an architect with a vision as expansive as the city. He began his career in Chicago as an architectural designer with industry leaders Perkins&Will and HOK. Returning to his home state in 2011, he grew professionally with DLR Group, emerging as the firm’s youngest Regional Design Leader. Following years of association with Omaha by Design, Scott assumed the Executive Director role in 2018.

Scott is a native of Kearney, Nebraska. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska College of Architecture, and his Master of Architecture from Ohio State University. He is a graduate of Leadership Omaha Class 39, past leader of the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Council, and Chair of the City of Omaha Landmarks Heritage Preservation Commission.

Board of Directors


David Levy

Baird Holm

Vice President / Treasurer

Adrian Hernandez

Dundee Bank


Sandy Parker

Community Volunteer

Immediate Past President

Mike McMeekin

Engineering Change Lab - USA


David Arnold



Doug Bisson

HDR, Inc.


Cydney Franklin

Seventy Five North


Todd Heistand

NuStyle Development


Steve Jensen

Jensen Consulting


Chris Johnson

Leo A Daly


Lisa Olson



Ted Zetzman

Noddle Companies

Founding Director, 2001 - 2015

Connie Spellman

Connie Spellman

Founding Director

Connie launched and led Omaha by Design as Executive Director for 14 years. She was instrumental in the formulation of the Urban Design Element – the City of Omaha’s first design guidelines – as well as a key figure in driving and implementing a unified vision for the region’s future. Connie’s significant contributions to improving the metro’s livability and vibrancy, alongside her inimitable gift for bringing people together, serve as the foundation of ethics and equity from which we operate today.

Advisory Council

CEO / President

Nancy Pridal

Lamp Rynearson

Deputy Chief of Staff

Kevin Andersen

City of Omaha, Economic Development & Development Services

Executive Director

Holly Barrett

Downtown Omaha Improvement District

Community Planning & Urban Design Lead

Doug Bisson

HDR, Inc


Alexis Bromley

ONE Omaha

Interim President & CEO

Wayne Brown

Urban League of Nebraska

Homeownership Policy Advocate

Sarah Brune


Lauren Cencic


Urban Development Manager

Manne Cook

Spark CDI

Senior Associate, Team Lead Senior Structural Project Engineer

Ryan Curtis


Professor of Architecture & Landscape Architecture

Jeffrey L Day, FAIA

University of Nebraska Lincoln

Executive Director

Meridith Dillon

Front Porch Investments

Sr. Vice President of Facilities

Brenda Dooley



David Fanslau

City of Omaha Planning Department

Utilities Coordinator

Steve Fanslau


Director of Business Operations

Robin Fordyce


Community Development Director

Bruce Fountain

City of La Vista

Executive Director

César A. García

Canopy South

Community Volunteer

Barbara Haggart

Executive Director

Michael Helgerson

Metropolitan Area Planning Agency


Kent Holm

Douglas County Department of Environmental Services


Steve Jensen

Jensen Consulting

Vice President of Property Management

Brandon Johnsen

NuStyle Development


David Levy

Baird Holm, L.L.P.

Heartland 2050 Project Coordinator

Karna Loewenstein

Metropolitan Area Planning Agency


Jay Lund

GreenSlate Development


Megan Lutz

Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture


Michael Maroney

Omaha Economic Development Corporation

Commercial Real Estate Broker

Colleen Mason

Oak Investment Real Estate

Executive Director

Mike McMeekin

Engineering Change Lab - USA

Landscape Architect

Kayla Meyer


Director of Community Investment

Anne Meysenburg

Omaha Community Foundation

Manager of Urban Design & Preservation

Jed Moulton

City of Omaha Planning Department

Landscape Architect

Kene Okigbo

RDG Planning & Design

Vice President Public Affairs

Lisa Olson


Director of Transportation Development

Stephen Osberg

Greater Omaha Chamber

City Engineer / Assistant Director

Todd Pfitzer

City of Omaha Public Works Department


Bob Peters

Robert Peters Company

Assistant Professor, Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Dr. Athena Ramos

University of Nebraska Medical Center

President Emeritus

Mike Riedmann

NP Dodge Real Estate Sales


Marty Shukert

RDG Planning & Design


Sarah Sjolie

The Wellbeing Partners


Bill Stott


Executive Director

Chris Stratman

Keep Omaha Beautiful


Bob Stubbe

City of Omaha Public Works Department

Community Volunteer

James Thele

District 2 Engineer

Tim Weander

Nebraska Department of Transportation

Principal, Retired

Ken West

DLR Group

Executive Vice President & Director of Development

Ted Zetzman

Noddle Companies

Omaha by Design Awards

Access and Mobility Award

The Access and Mobility Award recognizes an individual, group, organization or business for exemplary work in enhancing the ways in which Omahans move about the city and connect with one another.


  • ORBT | Metro Transit
  • Curt Simon | Former Executive Director, Metro Transit
  • TravelSmart | UNMC, Nebraska Medicine, & Verdis Group
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha

Neighborhood Revitalization Award

Formerly known as the ‘Neighborhood Leaf,’ the Neighborhood Revitalization Award recognizes an individual, group, organization or business for exemplary work in the preservation or enhancement of an Omaha metro neighborhood.


  • Blackstone District | Blackstone Business Association, Blackstone BID, GreenSlate Development, & Clarity Development
  • Little Bohemia | PJ Morgan Real Estate & Clarity Development
  • New North Makerhood | Future Forward
  • Lighthouse Project | ABIDE
  • Ford Birthsite Neighborhood Association, Hanscom Park Neighborhood Association, Omaha Dog Park Advocates
  • Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Theaster Gates, the Rebuild Foundation
  • Urban Village Development
  • Metcalfe-Harrison Neighborhood Association, Country Club Community Council
  • Omaha’s Community Gardens
  • Deer Park Neighborhood Association, Old Market South Neighborhood Association, Bill Seidler Jr. & Syl Orsi
  • Community Bicycle Shop Omaha
  • Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, Dietz United Methodist Church

Environment and Open Space Award

Formerly known as the ‘Green Leaf,’ the Environment + Open Space Award recognizes an individual, group, organization or business for exemplary work in preserving or enhancing the Omaha metro’s natural setting, park system and open spaces.


  • Floating Bridge at Standing Bear Lake | City of Omaha Parks & Recreation, & Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Sacred Seed Pop-Up
  • South Omaha Trail | City of Omaha Parks & Recreation, City of Omaha Public Works, & Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park | City of Council Bluffs
  • Elmwood Park Diversion Project | City of Omaha Departments of Parks and Public Works, Veenstra & Kimm, & Big Muddy Workshop
  • Hummel Park Restoration | City of Omaha Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Kenefick Park | Lauritzen Gardens, Union Pacific, Nebraska Department of Roads
  • Stinson Park
  • City of Omaha Public Works Department
  • Omaha’s Right-of-Way Gardeners
  • The Gallup Organization
  • Douglas County Board of Commissioners

Community Appearance Award

Formerly known as the ‘Civic Leaf,’ the Community Appearance Award recognizes an individual, group, organization or business for exemplary work in enhancing the Omaha metro’s look and feel, including preservation of the civic characteristics that define its public image and contribute to its appeal.


  • GreenSlate Development 
  • Benson Business Improvement District
  • The Margaret | Omaha Economic Development Corporation
  • Omaha B-cycle | Live Well Omaha & the Community Bike Project Omaha
  • Stored Potential | Anne Trumble, Emerging Terrain
  • Collin Stadium Project | Omaha South High School
  • Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge & Omaha Plaza
  • Metropolitan Community College, Omaha Public Library, & Metro Area Transit
  • Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness Park | First National Bank

Young Urbanist Award

The Young Urbanist Award recognizes an individual, under the age of 45, who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to making our metro an even better place to live, work, and play.


  • Kene Okigbo
  • Meridith Dillon
  • Manne Cook

The Laurels Award

The Laurels Award

The Laurels Award is Omaha by Design’s highest honor. It recognizes an individual, organization or business for significant contributions to great public spaces in the Omaha metro.


  • Laura & Michael Alley
  • Undesign the Redline | The Union for Contemporary Art
  • Seventy Five North Revitalization Corp.
  • Mike Moylan, Shamrock Development
  • Connie Spellman & Del Weber
  • Richard Holland
  • NuStyle Development Corporation
  • The Mercer Family
  • Midtown Crossing
  • Mike McMeekin, President, Lamp Rynearson
  • Jay Noddle, President & CEO, Noddle Companies
  • Alden Aust, Planning Director, City of Omaha
  • Steve Jensen, Planning Director, City of Omaha
  • Mayor Mike Fahey, City of Omaha
  • Gary Gates, President, Omaha Public Power District
  • Kathleen Jeffries, Former Chair & Member, Omaha Planning Board
  • Omaha by Design Place Game Facilitators
  • Pioneer Courage Park | First National Bank
  • City of Omaha Planning Department & Bob Peters, Planning Director
Get Involved

Get Involved

Cities evolve according to the diverse needs and desires of their citizens. To reach our greatest potential, we need you to participate in shaping the metro’s future. Check out the many ways to join us in building a more vibrant, livable city for all.

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