Kara Eastman has more than 20 years of experience leading nonprofit organizations and serving local communities. Currently, she runs a nonprofit consulting firm based in Omaha. An MSW in social work, she started Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance (OHKA) and took it from a small, start-up lead poisoning prevention organization to a nationally recognized, award-winning nonprofit that has raised more than $13 million to support green, safe, and healthy housing in Omaha. Under Eastman’s leadership, OHKA has directly served over 4,000 Nebraska families. In the process, she created dozens of jobs at her nonprofit, within the city government, and through partnerships with the small businesses and contractors she has worked with. She has been a board member of the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands and has served as an appointed member of the Mayor of Omaha’s Fair Housing Advisory Board.
Eastman is seasoned at taking conceptual ideas and turning them into tangible actions. She has gotten things done at the federal level without being elected to Congress. Working with Nebraska Republican Senator Mike Johanns, she advocated for the bipartisan Healthy Housing Council Act that addressed problems with housing and environmental hazards. Similarly, she worked with Democratic Senator Sara Howard to pass the Carbon Monoxide Safety Act in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature. She is an expert at bringing people together around a cause and building consensus. With partners like the city of Omaha, the Kresge Foundation, and Children’s Hospital, Eastman developed programs to improve local communities while also reducing government costs. She also has worked as the director of Rainbow House, a domestic violence shelter; helped start Extra Hands for ALS, a national, student-based volunteer program that provided assistance to patients with Lou Gehrig’s Disease; and was the director of Friendship Shelter, a transitional housing program for homeless adults.
Eastman is a life-long Democrat. In 2014, she overwhelmingly won election to the Board of Governors of Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Omaha, one of the top ten community colleges in the country, and was elected as Vice Chair of the Board. Under her leadership as Vice Chair, she strengthened non-discrimination policies, developed contractor training programs that created jobs in the community, and she led the initiative to ban tobacco usage on all MCC campuses. During her run for Congress in 2018, she won the Democratic primary and went on to take 49% of the vote against incumbent Republican Don Bacon in the general election.
Eastman and her husband Scott, an associate professor of history at Creighton University, live in Omaha with their daughter Sabina, a senior at Central High School. In her free time, Eastman is on the hunt to find the best chicken wings in Nebraska.