Role Models in the Philanthropy

Donor pledges legacy gift to honor parents who paved the way.

“I was blessed to grow up in a household with philanthropic parents as role models, said Melissa Marvin, Chief Service Officer at the Bank of Bennington.  

“One of the consistent messages they taught my brother and me, was that of ‘hand to man, heart to God’.” 

Sam and Sharon Marvin’s giving, leadership and hard work in the community provided that living example of what it means to give back.  Whether it was serving on various boards, or leading initiatives, they were incredible role models.   

 “We had an opportunity to experience what it meant to give back by watching them volunteer in education, human services and arts and humanities organizations,” said Melissa. “They also ensured we were exposed to and participated in practically everything Omaha had to offer.” 

 From an early age, her parents exposed her to the arts and humanities, even enrolling her in a preschool program at Joslyn Art Museum.  

 One of Melissa’s first memories of volunteering was helping her parents at an Omaha Symphony fundraising event. “Imagine an 8-year old at a gala checking coats or helping with the elevator. I love getting all dressed up and being with adults. It was my first exposure to seeing what fundraising was all about.”  

 In high school and college, she continued to volunteer and when she became a professional, she joined numerous fundraising guilds, chaired fundraising galas and served on governing and advisory boards for arts and humanities nonprofits such as Joselyn, Humanities Nebraska, Nebraska Shakespeare, Nebraska Arts Council and Lauritzen Gardens.   

Most recently, she is combining her interests in arts and human services by serving on the Buffett Cancer Center Healing Arts Advisory Board.  The Healing Arts mission is to help provide an innovative approach to art and healing that changes lives.   

 Like her parents, Melissa inspires philanthropy around her. From leading teams of volunteers planning fundraising galas to convincing her friends to serve on nonprofit boards, Melissa is a virtual “pied piper” of leadership volunteering in Omaha’s arts organizations. 

 Melissa has served on the Nebraska Cultural Endowment board for 13 years. “My desire is to always serve the NCE,” she said. “They do such important work funding and supporting arts and humanities throughout the state.” 

 I chose to become a Legacy Donor to Nebraska Cultural Endowment because of the capability to go to a single source to benefit arts and humanities organizations across the state,” she said. 

 I may not be able to write the really big checks right now,” she explained, but I know eventually I can do something that makes a significant impact in perpetuity. 

 Melissa’s father, Sam, passed away 22 years ago. Her mother Sharon continues to support the arts and humanities for future generations. “I set up my legacy gift in honor of my parents not only for all they accomplished but in honor of their legacy I try to live daily,” she said. “They were just really great role models.” 

 Like Melissa, you too can honor a loved one who believes in the value of the arts and humanities with a gift to the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Learn more by contacting Kyle at 402-595-2722 or 


Melissa and Parents, Sam and Sharon Marvin

Visionary Don Pederson’s Legacy Lives in Perpetuity

Visionary Don Pederson’s Legacy Lives in Perpetuity


In Don Pederson’s 90 years as a Nebraskan, he accomplished many things. The lawyer who grew up in Omaha and practiced law in North Platte for more than 40 years, was a dedicated public servant in the state legislature from 1996 to 2007. He made an impact on those he met, and thousands of Nebraskans who never met him, thanks to his work to passing legislation that created the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

“Don’s work in laying the architecture for the passage of the bill which created the public-private vehicle for the Nebraska Cultural Endowment truly set a wonderful action in motion,” said Kyle Cartwright, Executive Director. “I imagine it was no small feat, and his efforts made it happen. Nebraska is a better place thanks to him.”

Pederson, one of the Endowment’s principal visionaries and founders, passed away June 2, 2019 of pancreatic cancer. Don was a Legacy Donor to the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, having directed a personal gift to the Endowment that will have a lasting impact on arts and humanities across the state.

Don was on the Humanities Nebraska board from 2003 to 2010, serving as chair in 2007. Don’s late wife Virginia was serving on the Humanities Nebraska board when she became ill and she asked him to take her place. Before her death, they were married 49 years.

In 2010, Don received the Nebraska Sower Award from Humanities Nebraska for his service.

“Words fail me that adequately express what Don Pederson has meant to all of us involved in the humanities and arts in Nebraska, or for me personally,” said Chris Sommerich, Executive Director of Humanities Nebraska.  “The incredible mark he left on both organizations, and on all of us who were fortunate enough to be alongside him, cannot be overstated.”

On November 14, 2003, he married June Remington in a ceremony at the State Capital. “He looked back on his career of service, from school board member, community college trustee, state senator and member of the Humanities Nebraska and NCE boards as opportunities to accomplish important things that could make a difference for the people in Nebraska,” June said. “Creating the first state Cultural Endowment in the nation was a significant achievement.”

You too can make a lasting impact on arts and humanities in Nebraska as a Legacy Donor. Contact Kyle ( or 402-595-2722) to learn how.