Rachel Jacobson sat in the sun-drenched picture window of Lola’s just as the coffee-drinking crowd was switching to wine and matinee-goers were lining up at the nearby concessions counter. Outside, Dodge Street traffic zipped by.
On both sides of the glass was a city full of life and possibility, a scene set for a rising star like Jacobson. The 41-year-old is tapped to cross a bigger stage this summer, leaving the independent art-house theater she started, Film Streams, for the big-money, big-projects nonprofit Heritage Services. Film Streams is a local amenity. Heritage builds local amenities.
Jacobson’s isn’t the only newly elevated name in the philanthropic world. Wendy Boyer is the new head of the Peter Kiewit Foundation. Donna Kush now has the top spot at Omaha Community Foundation. All three represent entities that aim for a public good and definitely shape city life.
Jacobson announced she’d be leaving Film Streams in late February, when Omaha was a pre-pandemic city. The only people with known novel coronavirus were the ones brought here by the federal government to heal. After Jacobson sat in that window March 11 things were rapidly changing. A pandemic was declared. President Donald Trump held a prime-time address. In the days that followed, life changed drastically.
Lola’s closed. Film Streams closed. Schools. Shops. Museums. Government offices. Major events like the College World Series — canceled. Outside of grocery and hardware stores, much of the city is hunkering down.