YWCA Lincoln Staff

Karen Bell-Dancy, Executive Director


Karen Bell-Dancy serves as the Executive Director at YWCA Lincoln. This is a position she took after serving on the Board and Co-Chair of the Financial Development Committee. Bell-Dancy holds an Executive MBA in Management Degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Bloch School of Business and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Clark Atlanta University.

She has over 30 years of experience that consist mainly of higher education and all levels of work in public schools from elementary to high school. This includes 13 years working with UMKC's TRIO programs and six years as Director of Distance Education for UNL. She briefly left the public education sector to work for two years as Vice President of Diversity and Strategic Initiatives with a private female-owned consulting firm, LGC.

Bell-Dancy is a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and has a passion for working and advocating for women, youth, and social justice issues. She is a firm believer of "lest we forget," which serves as a personal testimony and platform for her work. 

Myeisha Essex, Associate Director


Myeisha Essex serves as the Associate Director at YWCA Lincoln. She is responsible for ensuring that YWCA’s mission is carried out through programming and organizational structure. Myeisha graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Political Science. While studying at Howard University, Myeisha learned the importance of community collaboration and achievement, as well as servant leadership. Those principals have guided her throughout her career of working for nonprofits to ensure all voices are represented and resources are provided on equitable basis. Myeisha has had the privilege of piloting community-based programs with Civic Nebraska, LPS Community Learning Centers and Girls Inc. of Lincoln.

Halea Pacula, Director of Family and Community Engagement


Halea Pacula serves as the Director of Family and Community Engagement at YWCA Lincoln. Halea graduated from Wichita State University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Health Services Management and Community Development. Halea has over 5 years of experience working with families and the community through child welfare. Before that Halea was passionate about caring for others through the medical field, having 8 years of experience in many different roles. Halea is originally from Kansas and moved to Nebraska in 2015. Halea has a passion for training, mentoring, and helping others. Halea enjoys time with family, the outdoors, and trying new foods. 

Halea's favorite quote is, " I think the biggest legacy we are going to leave behind is a whole community of children who believe they can do anything in this world because they watched their mommas do it." - Mary Kay Ash 

Ashlee Rowen, Director of Youth Development Programs


Ashlee Rowen serves as the Director of Youth Development Programs at YWCA Lincoln. Ashlee graduated from York College with a Bachelors degree in English Education, and a Coaching Endorsement. She is currently working through a Masters Program for a degree in Organizational and Global Leadership through York University. Ashlee has over 6 years of experience working with children both in and out of the classroom, and spent a large portion of that time working to build relationships with both her students and their families as she taught English, Reading, and Composition courses. She is passionate about being a lifelong learner, and helping others to grow and make connections that will allow them to be both happy and successful. Ashlee was born in Texas, and has lived in several states since then including Montana and Colorado. She currently lives in Lincoln with her husband, Troy, and their dog, Guinness. Her interests include playing soccer, reading, writing, and spending time with her family.

Courtney Brown, Program Coordinator


Courtney Brown serves as the Program Coordinator for the Family and Community Engagement Department at YWCA Lincoln. Courtney graduated from Southeast Community College in 2019 with an Associate's degree in Human Services and is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Nebraska Wesleyan University. Courtney's dream is to graduate from law school and apply for a job at the ACLU of Nebraska. She is passionate about advocating for racial justice and human rights and cares deeply about the economic advancement of people of color through advocacy and empowerment. Courtney is a competent human services professional with 4+ years of experience in providing services to individuals seeking out support in their life. Courtney is originally from Plattsmouth, Nebraska and moved to Lincoln in 2014. In her spare time, Courtney loves to put on a good movie and cuddle up with her 5 pets at home. She enjoys traveling and learning about different cultures and has been to Germany, Poland, Norway and the Czech Republic and can't wait to see more places.

Courtney's favorite quote is, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

Barbara Marion, Office Coordinator


Barb works with the YWCA Lincoln through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. This program is a National Service Program designed to alleviate poverty. The VISTA program is for one year. Now, Barb is the office coordinator for YWCA Lincoln. Barb graduated from Benson High School in Omaha, NE, and has lived in Lincoln for 12 years. She has previously worked at the People’s City Mission as a Family Shelter Supervisor and Dental Assistant at the People City Medical clinic. 

Barb's favorite quote is, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago,” by Warren Buffet. 

Icy Key, Office Receptionist


Icy works for the YWCA of Lincoln through the National Able Networks program. This program is for senior citizens over the age of 65 and is a training program with non-profit organizations all over the country, funded through a grant from the Federal Government. Icy worked for the Department of Revenue as a Revenue Agent II for over 30 years before transferring to non-profit organizations. Icy interned for Friendship Home and Voices of Hope before accepting a position at Voices of Hope. She worked for Malone Center with an Allstate Insurance Grant teaching financial literacy to low income women. Icy is a graduate from Northeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan and has a Bachelor Degree from the College of Saint Mary in Lincoln, Nebraska.