Friends of Scottish Rite
2018 Honoree


We were particularly honored to recognize René Ferdinand as our 2018 Friend of the Scottish Rite award recipient. This award started in 2009 as a way to recognize an individual who has made a difference to our fraternity, but quickly became an award that recognized someone who's contributions to the community have made a significant difference to the mission of and the families served by the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute and their partners.

Rene Ferdinand has spent over forty years working with children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.  His first professional work in this field began in 1976 as a services coordinator for Regional V Mental Retardation Services.  He has since gone on to hold a number of positions working to try and have a positive impact on the lives of people with developmental disabilities through the provision of services as well as improving policies and regulations governing those services.  His efforts in this field have been varied, serving as an advocate (Director of The ARC of Nebraska), a Nebraska State official (Director of the Health and Human Services Division of Developmental Disabilities), and, most recently a services provider (Director of the Autism Center of Nebraska).  Rene has also served on the boards of many autism and professional organizations including the Autism Spectrum Disorders Network, the Autism State Collaborative, the Association of Community Professionals, and the Nebraska Association of Community Professionals.  While at the Autism Center, in addition to his usual duties, Rene worked to provide support to the families of the Autism Society of Nebraska as well as supporting the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute in developing and expanding their early intervention program, Autism Care for Toddlers.

Thanks to the dedication Rene has brought to serving Nebraskans with developmental disabilities, organizations like the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Autism Center of Nebraska are able to expand their mission and presence, serving more children throughout Nebraska.

Past Recipients of the Friends of Scottish Rite award




Annie Bird has been a passionate advocate for children with disability for many years. She has served children as a speech-language pathologist, and she has served as a Board member and Past-President of the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute Board of Directors.



Wayne A. Stuberg, Ph.D, PT, PCS, FAPTA - Professor and Associate Director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute for Genetics and Rehabilitation (MMI). He is the Director of the University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) program at MMI and currently serves as a member of the Board of Health for the State of Nebraska


Patty Kircher - RiteCare mom and advocate. Patty has been active in numerous community organizations and activities, including WalkRite for RiteCare, the Girl Scouts, and the American Red Cross.

Denise Gehringer - RiteCare mom and advocate for Nebraskans with disabilities. Denise has taken leadership roles with the Down Syndrome Alliance of hte Midlands, the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute Board, the Rose Theater, and the TOPS Soccer program, a soccer league for children of all abilities.



Korey Stading, M.S., CCC-SLP - RiteCare Clinician at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute. Korey has been nationally recognized for her research and work with RiteCare children.



Del Weber, Ph.D. - Retired Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, former Board member for the Scottish Rite, and active supporter of Scottish Rite philanthropies



Harold "Hal" Daub - Mayor of Omaha, Congressman from Nebraska's 2nd District, longtime volunteer, Friends of Scottish Rite committee member and Honorary Chair, and passionate supporter of Scottish Rite Foundation of Omaha philanthropies



Paul Laikko, M.S., CCC-SLP - RiteCare Clinician at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute



Marsha Sullivan, M.S., CCC-SLP - Director of the RiteCare Speech and Language Clinic




Dr. Bruce Buehler - Longtime Director of the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute