Nebraska Community Leaders Honored with Lighthouse Awards

Nebraska Community Leaders Honored with Lighthouse Awards

Today the Nebraska Tech Collaborative, Invest Nebraska Corporation, and the CIO Forum recognized the accomplishments of two outstanding contributors to the security and growth of Nebraska business, technology, and public safety. The awards were presented at individual virtual ceremonies earlier this month, and were once again sponsored by OpsCompass, Inc.

“We are pleased to recognize these fearless individuals, who have demonstrated a deep commitment to their communities,” stated Nathan Biggs, senior vice president of OpsCompass. “They provide courage and strength in building and securing our country, and it is an honor to recognize their contributions.”

The Lighthouse “Safe Harbor” Award was presented to Doug Rausch, MS, CISSP, Maenner Endowed Chair and Director of the Cybersecurity program at Bellevue University.

Professor Rausch was named the AIM 2019 College Tech Educator of the Year and has over 30 years of experience providing communications systems and cybersecurity expertise in both the defense and commercial sectors. In addition to his teaching and academic leadership pursuits, Rausch is a consultant on variety of cybersecurity projects including the development of a security architecture and accreditation efforts for the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Rausch retired in 2013 as a Colonel in the United States Air Force, after serving more than 25 years as a cyber operations officer. He held key leadership positions with Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command, where he led cyberspace operations, cryptographic, and information assurance. A leader in advancing the implementation of cybersecurity and risk management principles, Rausch was selected to chair the Committee on National Security Systems Space Policy Working Group, which updated the national information assurance guidance for space systems supporting national security missions. Additionally, he led the development of policy and procedures to guide the transition of the Air Force certification and accreditation program from the Defense Information Assurance and Certification Process (DIACAP) to the NIST Risk Management Framework (RMF).

“Some calm waters run very, very deep,” said Jona Van Deun, President of the Nebraska Tech Collaborative. “From his leadership in military service to being a forerunner of cybersecurity education, Doug Rausch is one of those unrecognized heroes who has been keeping us safe for many years and continues to build a legacy of public safety.”

The Lighthouse “Beacon of Light” Award was presented to Mike Dunlap, Executive Chairman of Nelnet Corporation.

Mike Dunlap is the chairman and founder of Nelnet (NYSE: NNI), headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nelnet is a diversified company with core businesses in the education, telecom, and finance sectors. Mike also serves on the Board of Directors of Hudl, and Union Bank and Trust Company. He also serves as a Director and Co-President of Farmers & Merchants Investment, Inc., the parent organization of Union Bank and Trust Company.

In addition to numerous philanthropic endeavors, Mike serves, or has served, on the Entrepreneurship Clinic Advisory Board for the UNL Law School, the Raikes School Advisory Board, and Lincoln’s 2015 Vision Group. He is also a co-founder of the Nebraska Tech Collaborative. Perhaps most importantly, Mike is committed to giving back to his local community and has prioritized doing so for many years. He was instrumental in establishing and executing upon Nelnet’s core values of diversification and growth. The company takes great pride in constantly seeking innovation and investment in Nebraska, as well as expanding into communities across the Midwest with corporate venture and real estate investments. Nelnet is a critical collaborator in the Silicon Prairie with active investments in over 50 portfolio companies, most of which are located in Nebraska. Mike has always believed strongly in investing in local companies with the goals of fostering innovation and growth, retaining talent in the state, building enduring companies, and ultimately improving our cities.

“Throughout Nebraska and the heartland, we have many modest, considerate individuals who give of their time and gifts to help young companies prosper, and Mike Dunlap embodies that noble cause,” commented Ben Williamson, General Counsel and Investment Lead at Invest Nebraska Corporation. “Mike and his team have made it possible for so many young organizations to emerge from that very tough start-up mode to become successful companies, which takes wisdom and guts.”

OpsCompass sponsors the Lighthouse Awards in support of the CIO Forum, Nebraska Tech Collaborative and Invest Nebraska Corporation.

“OpsCompass is proud to sponsor the Lighthouse Awards, which are intended to shine a light on key individuals who keep Nebraska safe, strong and growing,” commented John Grange, CTO of OpsCompass. “Our world may have changed, but it is still strong and vibrant, and young people need to know that the real superheroes are the strong, quiet leaders who keep us safe and let us pursue our dreams every day.”

About Nebraska Tech Collaborative
The Nebraska Tech Collaborative is an Aksarben Work Force Initiative and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is comprised of over 100 business, government, education, and non-profit partners working together to build a world class tech talent ecosystem in Nebraska. To learn more, visit

About the CIO Forum
The Chief Technology leaders from several large companies identified the need for a group that would meet periodically and discuss relevant issues like technology, people, and processes. The Omaha CIO Forum has over 200 members, comprised of CIO’s, CTO’s, CISO’s, and other senior IT executives. To learn more, visit

About Invest Nebraska
Invest Nebraska Corporation is a private non-profit corporation focused on growing the state’s economy by supporting high-potential, early-stage companies in Nebraska. Invest Nebraska works directly with entrepreneurs, researchers and companies to help commercialize their technologies, launch and grow new businesses, and access needed capital. Invest Nebraska is led by a team experienced at growing early stage and lower middle market companies and it strives to accelerate entrepreneurial successes by providing companies access to its extensive network of entrepreneurs, investors, business partners, and potential customers. To learn more, visit