Meet Veta Jeffery, president and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber.
Tell us a little about your business. – The Omaha Chamber (www.omahachamber.org) is dedicated to advocating for our members in ways that support their economic and talent growth. We are also a driver for policy matters that affect our business community. We recognize that our community is better and growing when we are all growing together.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally? – One thing I learned from hanging with my father is to not look at life in terms of challenges but rather opportunities that are awaiting a solution. I have served in non-diverse, male-dominated spaces as the only or one-of-few in either category. In those spaces, I was talked down to, discounted, ignored, or expected to either not perform or to perform very little simply because of my race and/or my gender. From those positions alone, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to widen the understanding from both vantage points, demonstrating that leaders like me are capable, thoughtful, and staunchly able to serve at the helm and not only turn great profits but exceed typical expectations while doing so.
What has been your most important achievement professionally? – This one. I believe that what matters is that which is before you today. With that thought in mind, I am fully committed to the success of the members, corporate, political, and community leaders that we serve to continue the great experience that is Omaha.
Tell us a little about your family. – My beautiful family consists of my greatly supportive husband of 14 years, Tony Jeffery. We have two children, Ishmaiah (21) and Toni (12), and two four-legged family members.
What do you see as one of the biggest turning points in your life? – There have been several, from the birth of our children to serving our state behind the Ferguson uprising, but the one I will speak of today was loading up the family and moving to Omaha.
What is the most unique or interesting thing about you that most people probably don’t know? – I am a professional extrovert. My natural inclination is that of an introvert, but I have spent the greater part of my professional life working in public spaces and engaging groups of people. I’ve learned to compartmentalize when necessary for the greater good.
If you had a theme song, what would it be? – “A Brand New Day” from The Wiz.
What is your favorite book or the last good book you read? – While the Bible is my favorite book of books (my favorite book being Acts), one of the last good novels I read was Angel in the Rubble by Geneele Buzman-McMillan. It was a phenomenal accounting of her experience as the last survivor to be found from the tragic 9/11 bombings.
What is your favorite movie? – The 300 holds a special place in my heart, as does The Great Debaters.
What is your favorite local restaurant? – Omaha is not lacking in good cuisine. I could name a favorite for each meal of the day, but for now I will say the falafels at Mediterranean Bistro stand out to me. I am excitedly discovering new food opportunities daily!
If you could have dinner with one famous person from the past or present, who would it be? – My dad as he was famous to me, and I was 18 when he passed. My heart’s desire is to have an adult conversation with him. Also, Mary Ellen Pleasant to discuss her savviness, intelligence, tenacity, and boldness as it pertained to making money.