The past few months, several of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s (BCBSNE) employee resource groups (ERGs) had the opportunity to get out in the Omaha community.

At BCBSNE, ERGs are the foundation of the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Each group creates an empowering and inclusive environment for employees to celebrate their unique identities. Currently, BCBSNE offers six different ERGs to employees.

From marching at a parade to volunteering at a cultural festival, here’s what BCBSNE’s ERGs have been up to this summer:

Omaha Cinco de Mayo celebration

BCBSNE’s ERGs kicked off the summer by marching in the Omaha Cinco de Mayo parade on Saturday, June 12. BCBSNE was represented by Latinos Empowered to Achieve their Potential (LEAP), an ERG devoted to driving awareness of Latino culture and contributions.

The annual Cinco de Mayo celebration ran down historic South 24th St. and featured a variety of floats, marching bands and entertainers celebrating Latino heritage. According to the festival’s website, South Omaha has been hosting Mexican festivals in Omaha for decades—dating as far back as 1920.

Maria Mayorga, BCBSNE group billing and stop loss supervisor, said the festival was a beautiful expression and celebration of the prominent Latino culture in the Omaha community.

“We had a great time representing BCBSNE at the Omaha Cinco de Mayo parade and festival. While this year’s attendance was low, which we attribute to the impact of COVID-19, we hope to make our presence at the festival even bigger and better next year,” said Christian Gallardo, BCBSNE IT compliance program manager.

Omaha Freedom Festival

The Omaha Freedom Festival was held on Saturday, June 19 at the Malcom X Memorial Foundation Outside Amphitheatre. The annual festival is held in celebration of Juneteenth, a day which honors the end of slavery in the U.S. With the support and participation of sponsors, donors and volunteers, the Omaha community came together to celebrate the holiday and African American culture.

Building Leaders like Us for Excellence (BLUE), BCBSNE’s ERG supporting Black employees, represented the company with a booth at the festival. Catrina Dunbar, agile project manager and BLUE president, expressed satisfaction and gratitude for BCBSNE’s role in the event. The booth was a hub of activity featuring interactive games, BCBSNE-branded giveaways and a selfie station. Attendees also stopped by to share their stories and gratitude to BCBSNE for being their insurance carrier as well as inquire about insurance information.

Heartland Pride Parade and Festival

The Heartland Pride Parade and Festival was held on Saturday, July 10. Fearlessly You @ Blue, BCBSNE’s ERG supporting the LGBTQ+ community, had the opportunity to march in the parade.

Decked out in stickers, temporary tattoos and every color of the rainbow, more than 40 employees and their families marched in the streets of downtown Omaha. Following the parade, attendees headed to the BCBSNE building to enjoy snacks, giant Jenga and bingo. To make digital memories, Young Professionals Connect, the company’s ERG supporting young professionals and their advocates, sponsored a Pride photo frame accompanied by a polaroid camera to make the perfect photo op.

“It was an incredibly rewarding experience,” Kate Grafel, BCBSNE health data analyst, said. “It was invigorating to march in the parade and share our excitement with the Omaha community.”

Amanda Riedl, BCBSNE software developer and Fearlessly You @ Blue facilitator in chief, said the event made her shed a few tears.

“It was an emotional experience that made me proud to be a part of the BCBSNE team,” Riedl said.

Check out the video below to learn more about the Pride festivities:

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