About First Responders Foundation

About First Responders Foundation

Mission

The mission of the First Responders Foundation is to serve and honor all our First Responders, Veterans, and their families, build appreciation and respect for their work, and enhance public safety.

Vision

Our 2025 Vision:

  • By 2025, be an organization critical to the maintenance and enhancement of public safety in our communities. To serve as a recognized social impact organization supporting First Responders, Veterans, and families.
  • This will be accomplished by providing caring support to communities and offering tailored individual and family wellness programs and services for First Responders, Veterans and their families.
  • By 2030 critical services will expand programs and services through Chapter representation in multiple states and national strategic collaborations and alliances.
Programs

Programs: Overview/Categories

The First Responders Foundation supports Law enforcement, Firefighters, Dispatchers, EMTs, Medical Personnel, and Veterans.

Programming includes behavioral health services, physical fitness programs and classes, med management, and more, to serve and honor first responders and their families.

While the First Responders Foundation Headquarters is located in Omaha, Nebraska, first responders and their families across the United States are welcome to participate in programming and events. Programming is available in person or through telehealth, telefitness, and behavior health sessions via Zoom and other virtual technology.

All Programs
FRF Race Team I-80 Speedway

Events: Overview

The First Responders Foundation hosts community events that help fund programming, build appreciation for the work of first responders, and promote public safety. Popular annual events include the Guns & Hoses Racing Event at I-80 Speedway and the 9/11 Luncheon of Honor.

Upcoming Events
Brief History

Brief History

The First Responders Foundation is rooted in 9/11 remembrance. Co-founders Ray Somberg and Jerry Hoberman were reflecting on the first 9/11 on September 11, 2001, and how first responders often are taken for granted until tragedy strikes. The two men vowed to make a difference and started the First Responders Foundation in 2008. The Foundation is a social impact organization centered around appreciation and support for first responders and their families.

Read more about Ray Somberg (2018) and Jerry Hoberman (2019) when they were inducted into the Ancient Order of Saint Florian and Saint Michael.

First Responders Foundation Impact Report

Annual Impact and Letters

2020 Annual Impact Report
2019 Annual Impact Report
2019 Annual Fund Letter
2018 Annual Impact Report

First Responders Foundation Staff

Major General Allen W. Batschelet, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Major General Allen W. Batschelet, U.S. Army (Ret.)

CEO

Todd Sears

Todd Sears

President

Jodi Teal

Jodi Teal

VP of Operations and Development

Gina Mowat, Director of Events

Gina Mowat

Director of Events

Jason Workman

Jason Workman

Director of Behavioral Health

Leslie Hartmann

Behavioral Health Clinician

Leah O'Brien

Behavioral Health Clinician

Patrice Monnier

Patrice Monnier

Director of Social Media

Brian Bonifas

Director of Physical Training

Mike Kraus

Director of JAVELAN

Donald Leu

Director of Financial Health

First Responders Foundation Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Mike Corrigan

Chairman of
the Board

Major General Allen W. Batschelet, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Al Batschelet

CEO

Todd Sears

Todd Sears

President

Leria Bray

Leria Bray

Vice Chairman

Dr. Paul Schenarts

Dr. Paul Schenarts

Secretary

Malorie Maddox

Treasurer

Gary Steiner, Chairman of the Board

Gary Steiner

Chairman
Emeritus

First Responders Foundation Board Members

Mike Fahey

Mike Fahey

Charles V. Sederstrom

Charles V. Sederstrom

Gary Gates

Gary Gates

Jim Hanson, Jr.

Jim Hanson, Jr.

Dr. Mike Wagner

Dr. Mike Wagner

Debbie Bremer

Debbie Bremer

Rob Randels

Ex-Officio & Liaison

Assist. Chief Tim McCaw, OFD
Ex-Officio & Liaison

Assistant Chief
Tim McCaw, OFD

Lt. Neal Bonacci
Lt. Neal Bonacci

Lt. Neal Bonacci, OPD

Founders

Ray Somberg
Co-Founder

Ray Somberg

Jerry Hoberman
Co-Founder

Jerry Hoberman

Major General Allen W. Batschelet, USA (Ret.)
President and CEO

Major General Allen W. Batschelet, USA (Ret.)

Al joined the foundation in October 2017. He is also a principal and co-founder of Horizon Strategies, LLC. He enjoyed a successful, 35 year career in the United States Army in a variety of leadership and staff positions with the 1st Armored, 1st Cavalry, 3rd Infantry, 1st Infantry, and 4th Infantry Divisions. Command positions included Commanding General, V Corps, Deputy Commanding General 4th Infantry Division and Commanding General United States Army Recruiting Command. Key staff assignments included service on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Training, U.S. Army Europe, Director of Operations, Plans and Exercises, United States European Command and Chief of Staff, United States Strategic Command, at Offutt, AFB, NE.

Al served on many combat tours including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Joint Forge and multiple tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as commander of the 4th Infantry Division Artillery, and as the Chief of Staff, 4th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

He holds degrees from Iowa State University, Army War College and the Army Command Staff College.

Todd Sears
President

Todd Sears

Todd joined the Foundation in 2020 as a board member and was named President in June of 2021. He retired from the Omaha World-Herald in February of 2021, completing a 33-year career in the newspaper business. Prior to joining the Omaha World-Herald, he was President and Publisher of the State Journal-Register and Lincoln Courier in Illinois. 

Todd grew up in Crete, NE, and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He and his wife Brenna live in Papillion and are proud parents of two adult sons, Joey and Jack.

 

Jodi Teal, Director of Development
Director of Development

Jodi Teal

Jodi joined the foundation in June 2019 and has over 15 years of non-profit experience. She earned her degree in Human Resources and Family Science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Postbaccalaureate Certificate of Paralegal Studies from the College of St. Mary. She completed UNO’s Certificate in Fundraising Management and has served in various business positions including Donor Relations, Grant Writer, Event Manager and Volunteer Coordinator.

Jodi is a Certified Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning, and is a Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor, both through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International.

Gina Mowat, Director of Events
Director of Events

Gina joined the foundation in June 2016. She earned a degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and worked as a Technical Project Manager at First Data before embarking on her 15 year career as stay-at-home mom.

She started her time with the foundation as Executive Assistant to co-founder, Ray Somberg, which allowed her the opportunity to realize her talents and passion for event planning and management. She moved into the position as Director of Events in 2018 and says that she has the best of both worlds – “I work with amazing people doing amazing things and I have the flexibility to be focused on my family too”.

Jason Workman
Director of Behavioral Health

Jason Workman LIMHP, LMHP, LADC, CCTP

Jason has a passion for first responders and started the First Responders Support Team (FRST) Program as a volunteer. Jason is a licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Clinically Certified Trauma Professional. He has a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Grace University. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha working with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Jason’s experience includes working with first responders for the last thirteen years as a Law Enforcement Chaplain, and he is the Regional Clinical Director for the state Critical Incident Stress Management Team. Jason has also served as a firefighter/EMT in Northern California, Child Protective Services (Investigations), Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and Nebraska State Probation.

Behavioral Health Clinician
Behavioral Health Clinician

Leslie Hartmann, Clinician, LMHP

Leslie is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and specializes in working with spouses and children of first responders.

She has more than eight years of experience working with families, as well as children and adolescents with behavioral and social challenges. Leslie’s experience also includes working in the correctional setting, dealing with inmates and corrections staff. Leslie is married to a retired U.S. Marine who also was an emergency medical technician (EMT).

As part of the FRST (First Responders Support) Team, Leslie facilitates a weekly substance support group.  She is available for both in-person and Telehealth sessions throughout Nebraska.

Behavioral Health Clinician Coordinator of Physical Wellness

Leah Harms, Clinician, LIMHP, CPC, LADC, CPT

Leah is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, Certified Professional Counselor, and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor who specializes in working with first responders and their spouses.
She has more than six years of experience working in the mental health and substance use field.  Growing up the daughter of a Lincoln Firefighter and currently the spouse of a Council Bluffs Firefighter, Leah has found her niche helping those in the first responder community.  Leah is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and facilitates a monthly spouse support group.  She is available for both in-person and telehealth sessions throughout Nebraska.
Leah is also the Coordinator of Physical Wellness at the First Responders Foundation Wellness Center.  She helps with membership, outreach, and general maintenance of the gym.
Patrice Monnier
Director of Social Media

Patrice Monnier, Director of Social Media

Patrice joined the Foundation in March 2019 with over 20 years experience in sales and marketing. Her experience includes working in sales for American Airlines and the Industrial Label Corporation.

Patrice was the Assistant Director of the Phoenix Academy, private K-8 school, where her responsibilities included website and social media management. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of NE-Lincoln.

Patrice is the spouse of a retired law enforcement officer, who currently works in private security, and she is passionate about serving and supporting first responders and veterans, and their families.

Brian Bonifas

Brian Bonifas is the Director of Physical Training. Brian has been a metro area Police Officer since 2009 and currently serves at the Metro Community College Police Department. He has instructor certifications from the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, ALICE (Active Shooter Response Training), 88 Tactical, and Gracie University. Gracie University teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) a form of martial arts that started in 1925 in Brazil and has origins in Japanese Jiujitsu and Judo.

 

Director of JAVELAN

Mike Kraus

September 11, 2001 impacted every American in a unique, different way, and the same can be said for Mike Kraus. Just in 5th grade, the live videos, images and comments he heard that day wouldn’t be felt until years later until he learned why billions of people around the world love the United States of America, and why billions of other people hate the U.S.A. – because of the freedoms we have been given by God and secured by the men and women of our armed forces. It is because of this reason Mike has felt a deep, visceral and untamed love for his country and for those who defend her on a daily basis.

Jack Assisting Veterans Enjoy Life AgaiN (JAVELAN) is a niche program, founded by passionate Veterans and civilians alike, whose mission is to “enrich the lives of lives of first responders and Veterans, by enabling independence and life-changing support” and because of this commitment to our Nation’s Heroes, Mike appreciates this program.

Mike has spent his entire career in the healthcare industry: at the bedside, in the board rooms and as his workplace representative in the communities he partners with, and it is because of these diverse experiences he excels at strengthening relationships with everyone he meets. Driven by a deep desire for achievement, Mike strives daily for excellence in every project, meeting and nonprofit board of directors he is a part of.

Graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2013 with honors, Mike completed his Masters of Business Administration in May of 2020 with a 4.0 GPA– at a time when the future of in-person learning was essentially eliminated. Because of his continual push for success, Mike sets the bar for his personal, work and relationship goals very high, and those who know him best would concur. Representing one of the region’s largest health systems, Mike has increased its community impact to nearly $100 million pre-pandemic, demonstrating the significant efforts he undertakes to ensure the communities’ needs are being met and solved. It is because of this commitment to his community, and love for his country and her defenders, Mike has been voted as the new Director of JAVELAN, a position he takes extremely seriously with a humble perspective, and personal guarantee he will do everything he can to further its mission.

Don Leu

Don Leu is the Director of Financial Health. Don joined the Foundation in 2021. Don has 40 years of experience with financial direction and wants to share his knowledge with first responders.

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