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Westside Community Schools

Hall of Fame and Lighthouse Leaders

Leaders throughout the Westside Community have announced the inductees into the 2018 Hall of Fame as well as the 2018 Lighthouse Leaders. All were recognized at the 2018 Celebration Gala on November 1 at Happy Hollow Club.

Seven esteemed alumni were inducted into the Westside Alumni Association Hall of Fame.  Five others, selected by the Westside Foundation and leaders throughout Westside Community Schools, will be honored as Lighthouse Leaders. November’s event is a joint collaboration between three organizations with historic roots in our community: Westside Community Schools, the Westside Community Council and the Westside Alumni Association.

Hall Of Fame Inductees

Brian L. Halla, Class of 1964

Brian Halla is a technological pioneer, industry leader and inventor who has been part of the most influential breakthroughs in America in the last 50 years. Upon graduating from Westside, Halla pursued a career in technology, a world few had heard of or understood in the 1960’s. He became the youngest manager of Control Data’s cyber-field support team, and was placed in charge of the NASA Sky Labs Project, heavily involved with the mainframe computers that contributed to a man’s ability to go into space and walk on the moon. Halla then joined an unheard of small startup, Intel, managed by three of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley in 1975. With Halla’s guidance, Intel unseated Motorola and NEC as industry leaders, and Halla was soon recruited by LSI Logic to become their Senior Vice President to lead the company into the microprocessor business. Here, he lead a breakthrough in microchip designs, “Systems on a Chip” (SOC), subsequently designed into Sony’s new entertainment system, ‘PlayStation’; Halla co-announced the PlayStation debut with Sony Corporation in New York City. Halla became CEO and Chairman of National Semiconductor Corporation, leading the company’s resurgence and ultimate dominant industry leadership position as the premiere innovator and manufacturer in the microchip industry; his patents have contributed to eyesight restoration, capsule endoscopy imaging pills, environmental analysis, and the cellular phone industry. Halla served on the Cisco board of directors for 10 years. Halla has often been called upon for industry advice, including by U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and he was presented the Albert Einstein Award by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He and his wife Carolyn ( Carolyn Simmons ’65 whom he met at Westside) formed the Halla Family Foundation to support Christian outreaches focused on anti-trafficking, hunger, education and various other ministries throughout the world. They support the Wounded Warriors Project, Family Giving Tree, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and have often remembered their Nebraska roots with donations of educational robots to Westside, and to engineering scholarships at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Brian Halla is also the author of five children’s books, written about his grandchildren.

Nancy A. Keegan, Class of 1978

J. Gunnar Mossblad, Class of 1973

Gunnar Mossblad is an award-winning saxophonist, composer and educator, with work recognized and respected across the United States. Known as ‘John’ at Westside High, the now critically acclaimed Gunnar Mossblad has worked with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters, Dave Liebman and Jon Hendricks as well as many other international jazz artists. He has completed numerous world premiere performances of 20th and 21st century jazz and classical compositions, and has performed with some of the most accomplished orchestras and symphonies in the country including Fort Worth, Roanoke, and National Symphonies. Gunnar’s performances, compositions, and professional collaborations have been captured in more than 50 published recordings, including the Grammy nominated recording Live… As Always. Gunnar has been featured in multiple publications, and was a regular contributor for both Saxophone Journal and Jazz Player magazine. With both Bachelor and Master’s degrees from the University of North Texas, Gunnar has also held Professorships at three Universities, James Madison University, West Chester University and the University of Toledo, where he is currently Professor of Music. Gunnar is also affiliated with music networks across the country such as the National Academy of Recording Arts Society (Grammy’s) in which he is a voting member, the Jazz Education Network of which he is a founding member, and the National Association for Music Education.


Colonel Michele Zipay Olsen, USAF, Class of 1993

Pamela Rowe Smith, Class of 1968

Pamela (Rowe) Smith is a proponent of volunteerism and philanthropy, dedicating much of her life to programs around the world empowering women and girls. Her work establishing leadership programs for women, encouraging equitable rights and opportunities, has spanned three continents, six countries and 14 cities; Pamela has served in leadership roles in each of those locations since her time at Westside from 1965-1968. While attending Colorado State University, Pamela was part of a small all-female vocal group sponsored by USO Shows to entertain U.S. troops during the Vietnam War. After moving to Indianapolis, Pamela served as President of the Junior League, was on the Mayor’s Advisory Council and founded the Women’s Appointment Collaboration to increase female representation on appointed Boards and Commissions. She then moved to Austria, where she was a representative to the Federation of American Women’s Club Overseas, working with the US Ambassador to organize a conference for female leaders in the region. In Switzerland, she served on the Parent Faculty Organization Governing Board at the International School of Geneva. Pamela moved to Hong Kong, where she co-founded and chaired The Women’s Foundation, to prioritize issues of economic self-reliance for women and girls in the region. Here she was co-author of a benchmark study and publication on closing the gender gap in Hong Kong. This work led to Pamela’s involvement with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women’s Leadership Board, working with female leaders from more than 25 countries to initiate and support work relevant to women worldwide. After returning to live in the United States, Pamela became active in the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Soeurs de Coeur, Beyond our Borders, Women in Philanthropy and the Vail Symposium Board of Advisors. She has also worked professionally in advertising, public relations and communications consulting, and is a partner in No Harm Done Design, a company making environmentally conscious and animal-friendly interior design products.

Admiral Jordan William Tappero, MD, MPH, Class of 1975

Jordan W. Tappero, MD, MPH is the Senior Advisor for Global Health, Center for Global Health (CGH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Senior Advisor, he provides strategic scientific and programmatic contributions to the Office of the Director’s management and oversight of a $3.7 billion dollar annual budget. With 25 years of extensive global experience, Dr. Tappero works across more than 60 CDC Country offices, and with multinational organizations, non-government organizations, philanthropies and other domestic and global partners. While working as Director for the Division of Global Health Protection with CGH, he led efforts in surveillance and outbreak investigation training, laboratory strengthening, public health research, and the development of National Public Health Institutes to bolster health security and prevent disease. Dr. Tappero was a leader in CDC’s West African Ebola Response, serving in Liberia as the first CDC Lead for Public Health and Medical Response; he directed day-to-day international and domestic response activities throughout the crisis. He also served as Incident Manager for CDC’s response to Haiti’s 2011 earthquake and follow-on cholera epidemic, directing CDC’s Health Systems Reconstruction Office to implement a $196 million dollar health systems recovery program there. Dr. Tappero was also instrumental in CDC preparedness and response efforts during the 2009 H1N1 Flu Pandemic, and throughout the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief the same year. By the time of his retirement in December 2017, Dr. Tappero had earned the titles of Rear Admiral and Assistant Surgeon General in the USPHS, holding three American Board Certifications, a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and an academic appointment as Adjunct Assistant Professor with Emory University. He is a respected expert in the field of emerging infections, authoring or co-authoring more than 260 peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters on communicable and non-communicable disease. Dr. Tappero and his wife still travel internationally and, on occasion, return to their home in Washington state.

Judith Youngman Wigton, Class of 1957

Lighthouse Leaders

Amy and Kris Brown

Amy and Kris Brown have dedicated much of their adult lives to community service as both professionals and parents. Amy’s devotion to Westside Community Schools is extensive, volunteering at Oakdale Elementary, Westside Middle School, the Westside Community Council, the Westside Athletic Club, and as part of district events such as the 2018 Caucus Committee and Westside Foundation ViVi. She has fully embraced the Westside Clothing Closet, encouraging and organizing donations from throughout District 66 to benefit students in need and their families. Kris Brown’s philanthropic efforts have extended back more than a decade to his time in the NFL, when the Kris Brown Kick Club raised close to 1 million dollars for the Texas Children’s Hospital Charity Care program. He was a 2005 finalist for the Byron ‘Wizzer’ White NFL Man of the Year Award for his community service efforts, work that has now extended to the Westside area. Kris is currently part of the Omaha chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization, and often supports Westside schools through his Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, even mentoring WHS business students through active involvement and hands-on learning within his stores. Kris is also a member of the Westside Bond Oversight Committee, overseeing the efficient, transparent utilization of the community approved $79.9 million dollar bond issue to upgrade district facilities.

Ann Christiansen

Ann Christiansen is a tireless advocate for Westside Community Schools, evidenced in her ongoing efforts as part of the district’s long term plans for improved facilities and schools. She was a key part of the Facilities Task Force and the Facilities Bond campaign, both identifying areas of focus and then securing support throughout District 66 to pass a $79.9 million dollar bond issue. Ann has since served on the Bond Oversight Committee, ensuring our stakeholders’ investment is utilized efficiently and fulfills our promises to taxpayers. A longtime supporter of Sunset Hills Elementary (and a proud parent!), Ann was the Founding Chair of ArtPALS, Community Club President, served on the Westside Community Council, and was part of the Sunset Hills Design Advisory Committee. She is also an active leader throughout our community including Fontenelle Forest Board of Directors, where she served as President in 2017. Ann has served on numerous Guild Boards supporting children and Omaha.






Lisa and D.J. Rezac

Lisa and D.J. Rezac are proud Westside alumni, parents, and among our district’s most active supporters. Both made their mark as students and 1989 graduates, D.J. later becoming a WHS Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. Few families have made greater contributions of time and financial support to Westside Athletics and activities than the Rezacs; they have sponsored DECA scholarships, the Varsity Legion Baseball team, Varsity Girls Basketball trips, and the main scoreboard in the Westside High School gym, to name only a few. They have also funded numerous youth level sports clinics, uniforms, and professional-quality promotional videos. The Rezacs are also active in the W Club, Westside Athletic Club, the Westside Touchdown Club, the Westside Vocal Music Parents Association, the Community Council, and Community Clubs at both Rockbrook Elementary and Westside Middle School. Both are familiar faces in our schools and throughout our community, using their positive influence to coach and mentor students at all levels, and to generate support throughout the city for important initiatives. The Rezacs, as Campaign Co-Chairs, were instrumental in helping with the passage of the 2018 Levy Override, and have long advocated for Westside Community Schools as ViVi Committee members and through service with the Westside Foundation.


ELEMENTARY | Start 8:40 - Dismiss 3:30 ( Wednesdays | Dismiss 3:00 )
MIDDLE SCHOOL | Start 8:00 - Dismiss 3:15 ( Wednesdays | Dismiss 2:44 )
HIGHSCHOOL | Start 8:00 - Dismiss 3:10 ( Wednesdays | Dismiss 2:50 )