Willie Barney, Founder, CEO & Executive Director
The Empowerment Network
Willie Barney is the Founder, President, and Facilitator of the Empowerment Network. The Network is a collaborative of residents, leaders, and organizations working to facilitate positive change in Omaha, Nebraska and other cities across the country. Formed in September 2006 and officially launched on April 27, 2007, the Network works collectively to improve the economic condition and quality of life for African-Americans, North Omaha residents and citizens in the Greater Omaha area.
The movement has evolved into a nationally recognized approach for community engagement, collaboration, capacity-building and leadership development with a focus on transforming Omaha into a GREAT city, in every zip code and neighborhood! The comprehensive community-based development organization has launched major initiatives with measurable outcomes. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents have participated in the groundbreaking approach.
The Empowerment Network Collaborative is one of the catalysts in Omaha that has helped to increase high school and college graduation rates; reduce unemployment; decrease gun violence; generate hundreds of millions of dollars in community revitalization investments; increase access to health care and healthy foods; and, launch the rebirth of an African-American centered arts, culture, entertainment, and business district.
For over 27 years Mr. Barney has worked in strategic planning, marketing, communications, community building and facilitation. In addition to the Empowerment Network, he is president of SMB Enterprises, LLC, a company that provides positive events, media and entertainment in the greater Omaha area. SMB is the parent company of Revive! Omaha Magazine, Black Business Guide, North Omaha Community Guide and the new Revive Center Omaha. He is also president of WDB Resultants, LLC, a national consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and marketing, communications, research, community organizing and facilitation.
Barney has received numerous local and national awards for his leadership and the outcomes generated through collective work. His experience includes work with corporate, non-profit, and faith-based organizations.
Barney has served as an active volunteer in each community that he has lived. He graduated with a double major in Economics and Business Administration from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. A strong supporter of life-long learning, he has continued his education through advanced leadership training including, the Summer Leadership Institute for Community Development at Harvard University and Executive Leadership and Management Training at the Northwestern University Media Center in Chicago.
He and his wife have been married for 23 years. She is the Vice-President of SMB Enterprises and WDB Resultants and Co-Publisher of Revive! Omaha Magazine. They have two children, Nehemiah (20) and Priscilla (14).