Staff Spotlight: Amara

Amara with her husband and two children smiling at the camera.

Meet Amara, Service Director of CEDARS clinical, prevention, early childhood, and school-age programs! 

Amara’s CEDARS journey began in 2002 when she started working with our Community Learning Centers (CLCs) and quickly became the Program Coordinator for CEDARS CLCs at Clinton and Hartley Elementary. Amara served in this role throughout her undergraduate and graduate years. After receiving her master's degree in Community Counseling, she spent the next six years working as an outpatient therapist and CLC Clinical Consultant. In 2013, Amara made the transition into program administration and served as the Program Director for both the Clinton and Hartley CLCs. Then, in 2015, she moved into her current role as Service Director.  

“The programs within my service area have evolved over the years, but I have found my true passion in promoting trauma-informed care and preventing trauma by supporting children and families early on, fostering positive childhood experiences, and strengthening family protective factors,” Amara shared. 

As the Service Director for CEDARS Family Resources programs, Amara supports CEDARS continuum of Prevention Services, three CLCs, Northbridge Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC), and Clinical Services. She supervises the directors of these programs, serves as a member of the CEDARS Service Delivery leadership team, and works closely with many community partners. 

Amara also holds various roles in other areas of the organization as a member of the Trauma Task Force, Risking Connection trainer, and facilitator of our new Zero Suicide Implementation Team. In addition, she serves as an officer for Lincoln's Prevention Collaborative, Lancaster Connected, and participates in the ACES Advisory Board through BraveBe. 

“On any given day, I might be in a community meeting in the morning, hanging out with school-agers in our Summer CLC Program midday, and reviewing budgets or discussing service delivery process improvements in the afternoon. With all of the construction lately, you may even catch me consulting on paint colors or trim finishes on occasion,” Amara said. “I love how dynamic and varied my day-to-day work is in my current role!” 

Amara finds it hard to pinpoint one favorite CEDARS memory after being a part of the organization for over 20 years. She has many fond memories of specific children and fun days of “summer-camp” from her many years of direct care in CLC. She occasionally runs into some of those former clients who are now adults, and Amara enjoys learning that they remember her and the fun things they did at CLC. 

“Another highlight was visiting the Traumatic Stress Institute in 2017 to learn more about their trauma-informed care model, Risking Connection, and then being a part of implementing this care model at CEDARS,” shared Amara. 

Amara is married to her husband, Nick, who teaches high school at the Bryan Community Focus Program. They are both Lincoln High, Wesleyan, and UNL alums, although their paths seldom crossed until well later in life. Together, they have a nine-year-old daughter and almost seven-year-old son, both of whom love all things sports. 

“They play the sports, my husband coaches the sports, and I’m learning to be a sports mom! When not sporting, you can find us on the golf course we live on between Eagle and Palmyra.” 

Considering herself a homebody who loves all things home and garden, Amara likes to spend her free time landscaping and tending to her flower gardens, completing home DIY projects, and thrifting. 

A fun fact that Amara shared with us is her love for architecture and design that began in the fourth grade, thanks to a tour of Lincoln’s historical homes followed by the opportunity to shadow an architect for a day. 

“I began designing my future home in middle school and was so enamored with home design that I was nominated ‘Student of the Year’ by the Home Economics department in high school. My husband and I spent the first 18 months of COVID self-building our current home – yes, the very same one I began designing in middle school!” 

CEDARS is honored to have had Amara and her passion for helping youth be a part of our organization for over 20 years. Thank you, Amara, for believing in the kids we care for!