Emily Moody never imagined herself leading an arts organization.
She’s a physical therapist by training. As recently as last year, she was working as an ergonomic specialist for an Omaha corporation, improving the workplace environment for the company’s employees. But she enjoys art and artists and feels a strong commitment to her community, so when the opportunity presented itself last spring to lead Omaha Creative Institute, Moody started connecting the dots.
She thought about her passion for social justice and equality, and the role the arts play in influencing those ideals.
“For a community to value those things, we have to have a community that values arts and culture,” she said.
At Omaha Creative Institute, Moody heads a small organization — just two staffers, including Moody herself — providing opportunities for artists and arts enthusiasts to intersect. It hosts a year-round schedule of workshops and events. For artists in particular, it offers an eight-week seminar, Artist INC., teaching business skills and professional development.
Starting Feb. 1, Omaha Creative Institute will sell a limited number of “shares” in the first iteration of its new Community Supported Art (CSArt) program. Each $300 shareholder will receive nine original pieces by area artists selected to participate in the program. The artists each receive a commission of $1,200. The program is the most recent example of Omaha Creative Institute’s mission to bring artists and arts supporters together in ways that benefit both groups.
“We have really amazing people in the arts sector in Omaha,” Moody said. “That’s what I really love.”
She also enjoys taking on new topics and challenges. As an undergraduate at the University of South Dakota, Moody changed majors nine times. She considered journalism, biology, English, political science, sociology and even German along the way.
“I guess I liked to learn things,” she said.
She moved to Omaha in 2000 when her husband, Craig, whom she met in college, took a job with the Federal Reserve Bank before ultimately starting Verdis Group, a sustainability consultancy. Moody, meanwhile, worked as a physical therapist treating patients with brain and spinal cord injuries and later transitioned into geriatrics.
After the birth of her first daughter, she returned to work at Mutual of Omaha, heading up the company’s ergonomics program. After her second daughter was born, the call came from Omaha Creative Institute. Moody accepted the challenge.
“I hope for a bigger impact,” she said of her goals for the organization. “I think there are a lot of really great small arts nonprofits that are doing some really original programming. Collectively, we could make a much bigger impact if we consider collaborating in bigger and better ways.”