Yanneys to receive Spirit of Nebraska Award

Will be recognized for their longtime support of UNMC

Two longtime supporters of the University of Nebraska Medical Center – Gail and Mike Yanney – have been selected to receive the Margre and Chuck Durham Spirit of Nebraska Award.

The Yanneys will be recognized at the Ambassador of Hope Gala on Oct. 23 at CenturyLink Center. Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of Gallup, will be the featured honoree at this year’s gala.

The Spirit of Nebraska Award is named for Omaha philanthropists Margre and Chuck Durham, who were legendary supporters of UNMC and its mission.

Hosted by the Friends of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, the gala is held every two years and is one of the top fundraising events in the city. In both 2008 and 2010, the event raised more than $1 million to support cancer research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center.

“Our $370 million Cancer Center project is moving along quite nicely,” said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. “This is thanks in large part to all the hard work of the Yanneys. They have been absolutely incredible. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for us. When you have the Yanney name behind a project, I don’t think you can do much better than that. It is good as gold.”

The Yanneys are co-chairs of UNMC’s $500 million Capital Campaign through the University of Nebraska Foundation.

Mike Yanney is chairman emeritus of the board of The Burlington Capital Group LLC, formerly America First Companies, which has managed public investment funds with assets in excess of $16 billion.

He has served on numerous boards including Omaha State Bank, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, PKS Information Services, Inc., Omaha Steaks, Tetrad Holdings, Level 3 Communications and U.S. West Communications.

Yanney’s primary community interest has been in youth mentoring. In 1989, he and Gail founded Yanney Kids, which later became All Our Kids, Inc. (AOK) and is now known as the Partnership 4 Kids. They both continue to serve on that board.

This led to Mike serving on the board of Building Bright Futures (BBF), an organization that is dedicated to improving academic performance and preparing students for post-secondary education, and serving as chairman of Building Healthy Futures, a division of BBF that focuses on giving students access to quality health care and behavioral mental health services.

Among his numerous civic and community activities, Yanney serves as a director of the Avenue Scholars Foundation, and the Yanney Heritage Park Foundation. In recognition of his professional and philanthropic work, Yanney has received: honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Bellevue University; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Distinguished Alumni Award; and the Horatio Alger Award.

Gail Walling Yanney, M.D., is a former board certified anesthesiologist who retired from practice in 1986. She is a graduate of the UNMC College of Medicine and served as a clinical instructor at the College of Medicine from 1961 to 1992.

Her professional accomplishments include serving: on the Olson Center for Women’s Health Advisory Board; as president of UNMC College of Medicine Alumni Board; and as fundraising chair for the UNMC HIV Research Fund.

She currently serves on the boards of the Nebraska Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center Community Advisory Board, the UNMC College of Public Health Advisory Board, and The Nebraska Medical Center.

Dr. Walling Yanney has been recognized for her community involvement with numerous awards including the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award (Professions), Arthritis Foundation Woman of the Year, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Alumni Achievement Award, Girls Inc. Angel Award and Partners in the Arts – Governor’s Arts Award. 

In addition to their individual recognitions, the Yanneys have chaired numerous fundraising drives and charities, both locally and nationally. In 2002, they received the UNMC Distinguished Service Award and earlier this year they were named “Citizens of the Year” by the United Way of the Midlands.

Tickets for this year's Ambassador of Hope Gala are $150 per person. Table sponsorships range from $1,500 to $10,000. For more information, call 402-559-4179, or go to www.eppleyambassadorofhope.org.

Jim and Shirley Young are honorary chairs of this year’s event. Jim Young, who is chairman of Union Pacific Corporation, is currently undergoing cancer treatment at UNMC. Jane Rips is event chair, while Lisa Mellen is serving as advisor for the event.

The UNMC Eppley Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center -- a distinction held by only 64 centers in the country. The UNMC Eppley Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated center in the state of Nebraska. The UNMC Eppley Cancer Center is also one of the 13 founding members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of the world’s leading cancer centers. This recognition means the most current and innovative treatment options are available to Cancer Center patients through the integration of cutting-edge research into state-of-the-art care. Cancer Center physicians and scientists work together to quickly translate discoveries made in the laboratory into innovative treatments for the patient.

Through world-class research and patient care, UNMC generates breakthroughs that make life better for people throughout Nebraska and beyond. Its education programs train more health professionals than any other institution in the state. Learn more at unmc.edu.



Tom O'Connor
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-4690 (office)
(402) 650-7063 (cell)