A retirement reception for Marthaellen Florence, director of community engagement for NET, is 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 10 at the NET Building, 1800 N. 33rd St.
Florence has served 44 years with Nebraska’s Public Broadcasting System. She is leaving the university to pursue her passion for teaching as she joins the faculty of the Center for Leadership Development at the Federal Executive Institute base in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Florence began her servant leadership as a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, helping found the Afrikan People’s Union. Upon graduation Florence spearheaded a series of summer journalism workshop for minority and low-income high school students.
Most of Florence’s opportunities to serve have been results of television programs she produced on subjects she found interesting. For example, she produced a program highlighting the challenges of at-risk and foster care youth. As a result, she began serving as a volunteer counselor, group leader and curriculum developer for a youth alternative living facility. She produced a program on teen mothers and drug addiction, which resulted in her next entrant into a non-traditional role as teacher and mentor. She received training to serve as group facilitator for teen mothers and incarcerated young men and women. The youth participated in a bi-weekly life skills and resiliency class through curriculum Florence developed.
Through the years Florence developed a leadership role supervising, advising and developing curriculum for such programs as a prisoner re-entry program, working with intellectually and emotionally disabled youth and was even part of the inaugural program for life skills instruction for student-athletes at the university.
Presently, she serves on the Husker Dialogues team of curriculum developers, facilitators and trainers. As a stakeholder in the university’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, she also has served on the Inclusive Leadership Retreat team, the Chancellor’s Commission on the Status of People of Color, MLK week planning team and facilitated numerous workshops in leadership, vision development and diversity and inclusion.
For more than 20 years, Florence was chair of the university’s Jazz in June series. Currently she serves as president of Malone Community Center Board of Directors, Lincoln Library board of directors, KZUM Radio, Lincoln Community Foundation, Flatwater Shakespeare Company board, the Omaha Empowerment Network Leadership team and is a member of the Friends of the University of Nebraska State Museum.
Florence’s community service has been recognized through Lincoln Mayor’s Heart of the Arts Award, YWCA Woman of the Year-Tribute to Women Honoree, NAACP Leola Bullock Community Service Award. She was named one of Leadership Lincoln’s Community Co-Creators, nominee for the LJS Inspire award, and recipient of the distinguished alumni and a the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 2019 multi-cultural award.