Jona Van Deun

President, Nebraska Tech Collaborative

Click Here for Jona’s LinkedIn Profile

With an extensive background in politics and public affairs, Jona Van Deun was formerly Vice President of Small Business Coalitions and Engagement for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. before returning to her native Nebraska as president of the Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC).

Beginning her career as a Staff Assistant to former President George Bush, Sr. in the Office of Presidential Scheduling, Jona served as Deputy Director for Cabinet Affairs to Gov. Arne H. Carlson (MN) from 1993-1995. In 1996, she returned to D.C. as a professional staff member on the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, working on social welfare policy.

As director of site operations for both the 2000 (Philadelphia, PA) and the 2004 (New York, NY) Republican National Convention, Jona served on the White House Transition Team and went on to be the Advance and Scheduling Director for Mrs. Lynne V. Cheney.

Serving as the Community Liaison officer to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria allowed Jona to continue her passion for public service by overseeing and providing support to U.S. government employees and their families.

Throughout her 25-year career, Jona has provided strategic expertise to several trade association and Fortune 500 companies, including 3M Company, DCI Group, the Pillsbury Company and the Property Casualty Insurers Association (PCI).

As a graduate of the College of St. Benedict, one of the few remaining liberal arts women’s colleges in the U.S., Jona focuses her charitable and volunteer activities toward programs that attract and develop women for leadership positions in government and business.

Nezzie Hardges

Partnership Coordinator, Nebraska Tech Collaborative

Nezzie Hardges is a veteran of the United States Air Force and is working toward her graduate degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, Nezzie migrated to Nebraska to pursue a career aligning her passions of strategic planning and developing local, national, and global communities. As Partnership Coordinator, Nezzie will act as a liaison and first point of contact between the NTC and partner organizations. She will oversee all aspects of membership including recruiting and event management. 

Sandra Reding

President, Aksarben Foundation

Sandra joined the Aksarben Foundation as President in 2017. Working directly with the Board of Governors and Councillors, Sandra oversees and implements the strategic direction of the Aksarben Foundation and the Aksarben network – including the Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC) and the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together, Aksarben Workforce Initiatives. With over twenty-years in not-for-profit leadership, relationship cultivation and fundraising and vast experience in higher education and scholarship administration, Sandra brings a strong knowledge of leadership and has a proven track record of driving results, engagement and activation. 

Michael A. Lechtenberger

Executive Committee Chair, Nebraska Tech Collaborative | CIO, Mutual of Omaha

As CIO of Mutual of Omaha, Mike oversees all technology, applications, information security and systems infrastructure. 

Mike joined Mutual of Omaha in 1986 as a software developer. He was promoted to manager in 1991 and became a member of the management team in 1994, holding a variety of IT leadership roles supporting Mutual of Omaha’s business units, delivering transformational initiatives and leading IT strategy development. In 2010 he was named Senior Vice President, Information Services Applications. He assumed his current role in August 2015.

In the community, Mike serves on the University of Nebraska College of Engineering Advisory Board, as well as the boards of the Assure Women’s Center, Chariots 4 Hope, NU Foundation Trustees, and the Mutual of Omaha Foundation. 

Mike earned his bachelors degree in computer science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his master’s in business administration from the University of Nebraska Omaha.

mike cassling

Mike Cassling

Aksarben Governor | Founding Chair, Nebraska Tech Collaborative
CEO, Cquence Health | President, Cassling

Mike Cassling joined the Cassling organization in 1985, working alongside his father and company founder Robert “Bob” Cassling to provide customer-focused, diagnostic medical equipment sales and service. Mike grew to accept the position of vice president of sales and marketing and was appointed president in 1996. Today, Mike provides primary leadership as Cassling’s CEO.

In addition to leading the Cassling organization, Mike is chairman and CEO of CQuence Health Group, formed in 2011 to provide shared services and strategic direction for its partner companies: Cassling and Ensocare. Through CQuence Health, Mike also oversees a diverse healthcare investment portfolio currently comprised of 12 corporate partnerships, each with a shared focus on improving patient care, decreasing costs and improving outcomes.

Through Mike’s leadership, CQuence Health Group companies have earned multiple honors and awards, including: Modern Healthcare’s #1 Ranked Best Places to Work in Healthcare; Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to work in Healthcare; Gold Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association; Employee Voice Award, Quantum Workplace; Gold Well Workplace Award by the Wellness Council of America; Highest Actively Engaged Population and Highest Overall Job Satisfaction by Avatar Solutions; Platinum Well Workplace Award by the Wellness Council of America; Best Places to work in Omaha and Best Places for the Advancement of Women; HR Solutions Employee Engagement Awards, 1st place Nationally; and Omaha Chamber of Commerce Business in Excellence Award.

Mike is a graduate of UNL and Syracuse University, he is an Omaha “40 under 40” alumnus, and was recognized in 2014 and 2010 with an Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and is a Westside High School Hall of Fame honoree. Mike has two daughters, Megan and Kaila; his wife, Elizabeth, has two songs, Gage and JT.

Past & Present Community Involvement

  • Joined the Aksarben as Councilor in 2012, Governor in 2019
  • Founding Member, Nebraska Tech Collaborative (NTC) – An Aksarben Workforce Initiative
  • Board, Salvation Army Omaha
  • Executive Committee, Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board
  • Board, Omaha Symphony
  • Board, Omaha Community Foundation
  • Board, Omaha Performing Arts
  • Chairman of the Board, Bellevue University