The University of Nebraska’s highest award, the Regents Medal, will be presented tomorrow to Michael B. Yanney and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney, Omaha community leaders who have been tremendous supporters of not only the University of Nebraska, but also youth education, the arts, health initiatives and other civic causes across the city and state. The Yanneys will be honored at a dinner tomorrow in Omaha.
“The University of Nebraska – and in fact the state of Nebraska – would not be where they are today without the support, vision and leadership of Mike Yanney and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney,” said Board of Regents Chairman Tim Clare. “From their commitment to youth mentoring to their leadership of the Campaign for Nebraska UNMC Committee, Mike and Gail have demonstrated a passion for improving our community that is almost unmatched. On behalf of the Board of Regents and the countless Nebraskans whose lives have been impacted by the Yanneys, I want to express our deep gratitude to this extraordinary couple.”
The Yanneys are longtime supporters of the University of Nebraska Medical Center. In addition to their co-chairmanship of the campus’ $500 million portion of the Campaign for Nebraska, Mike Yanney has tirelessly led efforts to raise private funds for the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, a project that will transform cancer care and research in Nebraska. The Yanneys also were among the principal donors for the new Harold M. and Beverly Maurer Center for Public Health at UNMC. UNMC last year presented the couple with the Margre and Chuck Durham Spirit of Nebraska Award and in 2002 with the Distinguished Service Award.
“I can think of few individuals who are more deserving of the University of Nebraska’s highest honor than Gail and Mike Yanney,” said NU President James B. Milliken. “Their support of the University of Nebraska, and our medical center in particular, has helped put us in a position to transform health care, research and education in Nebraska and beyond. And Gail and Mike’s service to the state extends well beyond the university. Their commitment to young people has had an impact across Omaha and Nebraska that is difficult to measure.”
For more than 20 years, the Yanneys have given their time, energy and resources to disadvantaged youth. In 1989, they founded what is known today as Partnership 4 Kids, a mentoring and scholarship program that helps at-risk youth in the Greater Omaha area prepare for college and career success. Today more than 5,000 Omaha Public Schools students participate in Partnership 4 Kids programs. Mike Yanney also serves as president and board member for Building Bright Futures, a non-profit organization created in 2006 by a coalition of business, civic and political leaders that works to improve educational outcomes for children in poverty in Douglas and Sarpy counties. Additionally, Mike Yanney serves on the Board of Directors of the Avenue Scholars Foundation, which helps prepare Omaha youth for college and career success.
Mike Yanney, a native of Kearney and graduate of Kearney State Teachers College (now the University of Nebraska at Kearney) is a successful investment banker who founded what is today The Burlington Capital Group LLC, where he continues to serve as chairman emeritus of the board. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from Kearney State Teachers College and Bellevue University; the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Business Administration Distinguished Alumni Award; and the Horatio Alger Award.
Dr. Gail Walling Yanney was born in Chicago and grew up in Nebraska. A retired anesthesiologist, Walling Yanney graduated from the UNMC College of Medicine and later served as a clinical instructor there. She served as executive director of the Bishop Clarkson Memorial Foundation. She currently serves on the boards of The Nebraska Medical Center, the Eppley Cancer Institute, the College of Public Health and the Yanney Heritage Park Foundation in Kearney. Walling Yanney previously served as chair of the Nebraska Arts Council and The Nature Conservancy. She has been honored as a YWCA Woman of Distinction and as the Arthritis Foundation Woman of the Year.
The Regents Medal was established by the Board of Regents in 2006 to recognize individuals whose service to NU’s four campuses has provided “exceptional benefits in furtherance of the goals and mission of the institution.” Regents Medal winners are selected by the Board.
The first recipient was the late Charles W. Durham. In 2009, the medal was awarded to Omaha philanthropists Ruth and Bill Scott and in 2011, the medal was presented in honor of the late Robert B. Daugherty of Omaha.
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