Willie Barney is the Founder, President, and Facilitator of the Empowerment Network. The Network is a collaboration of residents, leaders, and organizations working to facilitate positive change in Omaha, Nebraska, and other cities across the country. Formed in September 2006 and officially launched on April 27, 2007, the Network works collectively to improve the economic condition and quality of life for African-Americans, North Omaha residents, and citizens in the Greater Omaha area.

“Omaha’s ‘most significant leaders,’ is constantly bridging the city’s dividing lines of geography, race, and social class.”

– —By Erin Grace / World-Herald columnist Aug 9, 2017 

The movement has evolved into a nationally recognized approach for community engagement, collaboration, capacity-building, and leadership development with a focus on transforming Omaha into a GREAT city, in every zip code and neighborhood! The comprehensive community-based development organization has launched major initiatives with measurable outcomes. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of residents have participated in the groundbreaking approach.

The Empowerment Network Collaborative is one of the catalysts in Omaha that has helped to increase high school and college graduation rates; reduce unemployment; decrease gun violence; generate hundreds of millions of dollars in community revitalization investments; increase access to health care and healthy foods; and, launch the rebirth of an African-American centered arts, culture, entertainment, and business district.

For over 27 years Mr. Barney has worked in strategic planning, marketing, communications, community building, and facilitation. In addition to the Empowerment Network, he is president of SMB Enterprises, LLC, a company that provides positive events, media, and entertainment in the greater Omaha area. SMB is the parent company of Revive! Omaha Magazine, Black Business Guide, North Omaha Community Guide, and the new Revive Center Omaha. He is also president of WDB Resultants, LLC, a national consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and marketing, communications, research, community organizing, and facilitation.