Kind. Generous. Innovative. Entrepreneurial. Inspirational. Adjectives to describe the winners of the inaugural Young Nebraskans Awards, announced last week by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and co-sponsor Connecting Young Nebraskans (CYN).

Last Friday marked the official end to Young Nebraskans Week 2020 — to seven days of celebrating, connecting and motivating the young professionals throughout the state who represent society’s future. As a first this year, DED and CYN capped off the week with awards for three outstanding 40-and-under-somethings, nominated by their peers for outstanding achievements related to three categories: Young Professional of the Year; Community Involvement & Impact; and Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

From a pool of 47 applicants, DED announced the three award winners last Thursday from the virtual Connecting Young Nebraskans Summit.

“Choosing from our outstanding nominees was a remarkably difficult decision,” said Allison Hatch, Talent Development Team Leader at DED. “But the three individuals we selected really stood out from the crowd, not just for their personal achievements but because of the impact they’re making and the example they’re setting throughout their communities.”

Taking home the Young Professional of the Year Award for 2020 was Jordan Lambrecht, Managing Partner at Pixel Bakery Design Studio in Lincoln. Jordan’s company — which provides branding, design, animation and other services — has a passion for supporting a good cause and giving back to the community; for example, taking on a nonprofit organization once per quarter for pro bono work. Early on in the COVID-19 outbreak, the firm began offering some of its services free of charge to those who needed it.

“I’m a big believer that the rising tide lifts all boats,” Lambrecht said. “So when COVID-19 started happening, the first thing we did was offer free web hosting to anybody that was a creative, or in school, or a local business.”

The Community Involvement & Impact Award winner, Itzel Lopez, is VP of Advancement and Community Relations with Omaha’s AIM Institute — a nonprofit that’s on a mission to grow, connect and inspire the tech talent community through education and career development. A child of immigrants who speaks three languages, Itzel has devoted part of her career to helping children and teens become the first members of their families to attend college. She also has a passion for volunteer work, whether that’s serving as a school translator for parents who don’t speak English, working at homeless shelters or helping organize Omaha’s annual Cinco de Mayo festival.

“Every single part of my volunteering or community involvement has played a role in my personal development,” Lopez said. “This is where my daughter was born, and I want to create a better place for her. I really think Omaha is where I belong.”

Last but not least, the Entrepreneurship & Innovation award winner, Rachel Daly, has combined chemistry and medicine with her passion for helping others as owner of Innovative Rx Compounding Pharmacy in Kearney. Rachel’s company finds unique ways to make it easier for people and animals to receive the health care they need; for example, the company can turn medicine into lollipops to help children get their needed dose.

“Giving people options is the key to what we do here,” Daly said. “It’s all about finding hacks that will make patient compliance better, regardless of whether it’s a human or animal.”

When COVID-19 struck, Innovative Rx jumped in to fulfill a need by making hand sanitizer. “It was a way for us to fill a void and give back to the community,” said Daly.

To learn more about all three of this year’s award winners — and all 47 nominees — visit Be sure to check out this video to hear from each of the award winners in person.

Keep an eye on social media for information on Young Nebraskans Week 2021 — and to learn how you can nominate you or someone you know for the second annual Young Nebraskans Awards!