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Our Board

Tracy Pella

Co-Founder & President. Tracy is the wife of Jesse and the mother of twin boys, Cooper and Cohen. After the trauma of their birth at 23 weeks, 4 days, resulting in Cohen’s passing and Cooper spending 134 days in the NICU, she was driven to start Connected Forever to help other families who have experienced a similar journey. Tracy resides near Tecumseh.  Tracy is also a school psychologist and mental health therapist, who thoroughly enjoys serving children and families in the education system.

Jesse Pella

Co-Founder. Jesse is the husband of Tracy and the father of twin boys, Cooper and Cohen. After the trauma of their birth at 23 weeks, 4 days, resulting in Cohen’s passing and Cooper spending 134 days in the NICU, he has a desire to help families, especially dads who have a unique role in their family’s journey of loss and prematurity. Jesse spends his days managing his family farm, including livestock and row crops.

Ryan Trauernicht

Treasurer. Ryan and his wife, Katie, have one son and one daughter.  Lila was born in July 2015 and Calvin, who after a day with loved ones is now in Heaven. Ryan and his wife reside in Beatrice, Nebraska, where Ryan works for Pinnacle Bank as a Vice President. In addition to Connected Forever, Ryan serves as a Board Member and the Vice President for Beatrice Kiwanis, President of the Beatrice Ag Committee,  Board of Directors for the Gage County United Way, is an active board member for the Gage County Young Professionals, serves on the Southeast Community College Advisory Committee and is a mentor for the TeamMates Mentoring Program.

Haley Steinkuhler

Secretary. A lifelong friend of Tracy and Jesse, Haley experienced the helpless feeling that so many feel when someone close to them goes through a challenging journey. Haley’s goal is to help friends and family members not shy away from the traumatic circumstances that come with premature birth and infant loss, but become a rock that families may not know they need. Haley has extensive marketing and public relations experience in the professional sports, retail and educational worlds.

Allyssa Hermreck

Board Member. Allyssa has a personal connection to pre-maturity from family members and friends experiencing the NICU to her sister being a passionate NICU nurse. When her friends Tracy and Jesse had their twins at 23 weeks 4 days, she became invested in their long journey and passionate about helping others who experience prematurity and infant loss. Allyssa resides in Hickman, Nebraska with her husband, Eric, and sons, Grady and Miles. She has worked in insurance for 9 years and has been part of many company and community volunteer projects such as Meals on Wheels, United Way, Junior Achievement, and is currently a Doane Alumni Board Member.

Laura Lessmann

Vice President. The sister of Jesse, Laura saw firsthand Jesse’s and Tracy’s struggle with the loss of their son, Cohen, as well as dealing with the daily uncertainty for their son Cooper. She was compelled to help other families in similar situations, especially in rural areas, where support options might be less accessible. Laura resides in Gretna, Nebraska with her husband, Aaron, and two children Will and Lucy. Laura brings her expertise in event management from the hospitality and non-profit sectors to lead all Connected Forever events and programs. With her background, Laura has great appreciation for all the good that nonprofit organizations provide.

Aaron Lessmann

Board Member. The brother-in-law to Jesse and Tracy, Aaron is driven to give back and help other families. Aaron resides in Gretna with his wife, Laura, and two children, Will and Lucy. Aaron brings his expertise in marketing and finance and past volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity.

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