2023 Ben Nelson Gala Made History in Multiple Ways!

2023 Nelson Gala Recap

The 2023 Ben Nelson Gala was a monumental success! We had an unforgettable time honoring Democratic elected officials, leaders, and supporters from all corners of our state. The feedback we have received has been overwhelming. We had an awesome display of musical diversity from Mariachi Rey Azteca to the Destruction Drumline to classic country by Kiley and Company. Tony Vargas set the tone with an inspirational opening and Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird was a superb host. We brought the house down not once, but twice with galvanizing keynote speeches by both Tennessee Representative Justin J. Pearson and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. A tribute to NDP Party titan Frank LaMere was a highlight to many in attendance. In just eight minutes, we were able to raise over $27K for our Candidates of Color Fund and Frank LaMere Grassroots Fellows Fund. We rounded out the evening with an exciting afterparty hosted by the Nebraska Young Democrats at the first annual Sneaker Ball. 

THANK YOU to everyone who supported, volunteered, donated, or contributed to making this year’s Gala a memorable one! We continue to congratulate all the well-deserved award winners for their incredible acts of service, advocacy, and dedication to our communities and Democratic values. 

See if you spot yourself in one of the many pics in our 2023 Ben Nelson Gala Album on Facebook! 

Be sure to support many of the sponsors who made our Gala a success below. 

Ben Nelson Gala Sponsors

  • ActBlue
  • Agency Strategies
  • Angie Lauritsen
  • BCom Solutions
  • Brian Fahey
  • Bold Alliance
  • Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing
  • Foundation Blue
  • Ho-Chunk, Inc
  • Hustle
  • IAFF Local 385
  • IBEW Local Union 22
  • IBEW Local Union 265
  • Jane Raybould for State Legislature
  • Katie Weitz
  • Lancaster County Democrats
  • LiUNA Local Union 1140
  • Lincoln City Councilman Bennie Shobe
  • Mary Ann Folchert for State Legislature
  • Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird
  • Michelle Smith for State Legislature
  • Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana
  • Nebraska State Education Association
  • Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen
  • Omaha Professional Fire Fighters Union
  • Rob Quirk in Memory of Deb Quirk
  • Sarpy County Democrats
  • Sen. Jen Day
  • Sen Wendy Deboer
  • Sen. John Fredrickson
  • Sen. Anna Wishart
  • Sharlette Schwenninger
  • Tony Vargas for Congress

Supported Small Businesses

  • Automatic Printing
  • Benson Honey Farms
  • Bergman Incentives
  • Best Burger Restaurant & Catering
  • Big Mama’s Kitchen & Catering
  • Bright Blue Ink
  • DJ Mista Soull
  • Dreamy Displays
  • Frontier Bag Company Inc
  • Goldenrod Printing
  • Hodges House Photography
  • Honey Bee 
  • International Bakery
  • Round and Round Design, Justin Kemerling and Adam Casey
  • Shirts 101
  • Unionist Printing

To all who attended, we are grateful to you for the support you have all shown towards our party; your solidarity makes Nebraska Dems strong. Your support, donations, and votes will carry us into the 2024 elections.

We hope to see you all again next year,

NDP Officers Kleeb, Kaminski, Ligon, Flowerday, Griffin, Kessler, and Matejka

2023 Nelson Gala Award Winners

Preston Love Jr. Volunteer Award

This award is presented to a tireless volunteer in each Congressional District who personifies the spirit of the Nebraska Democratic Party.

CD1 Winner:

Liz Tompkins

CD2 Winner:

John Fox

CD3 Winner:

Nate Helzer

Schimek Quirk County Party Volunteer Award

The Schimek Quirk Award is presented to a county party volunteer who works tirelessly to promote the activities and values of the Democratic Party in their county.


Chair Ann Trullinger

Carrie Howard Sunshine Award

The Sunshine Award is presented to individuals who are dedicated to improving both the Nebraska Democratic Party and their community as an ally to our Democratic values.


Angie Lauritsen

Anne Boyle Young Democrat Award

The Anne Boyle Award is presented to a young person under 35 (using the age criteria of the Young Democrats) for their exceptional volunteer activities and participation within the Nebraska Young Democrats organization and the state party.


Larissa Schultz

Mike Fahey Block Captain Award

The Mike Fahey Award is presented to a Block Captain who goes above and beyond in their canvassing efforts and talking to their neighbors.


Deanna Pulse

Brad Ashford State Senator Courage Award

The Brad Ashford Award is presented to a current State Senator who shows conviction, support for our party’s platform, and leadership in the Legislature.


Sen. John Cavanaugh

State Party Chair Kleeb Award

The State Party Chair Award is presented to a person or group chosen by the NDP Chair.


  • Sen. Michaela Cavanaugh
  • Sen. John Fredrickson
  • Sen. Megan Hunt
  • Adelle Burk with Planned Parenthood
  • Ashlei Spivey with I Be Black Girl
  • Abbi Swatsworth with OutNebraska

Frank LaMere Hall of Fame Award

The Frank LaMere Hall of Fame Award is the highest honor given by the Nebraska Democratic Party. Frank LaMere was the first Native American to serve as a Democratic National Committee member and he founded both the state and national Native American caucuses.


DNC Committeewoman Charlene Ligon



Thank you!


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