OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Ashlei Spivey wears many hats. Her main role is as a program officer at the Kauffman Foundation. She's also the director of I Be Black Girl, co-founder of a restaurant called Best Burger and she's the founder of Young Black and Influential Omaha.
“I feel like I’m a serial entrepreneur. I like to build things and see things come to fruition that add value to the community,” she said.
The Omaha native is a community activist and entrepreneur. In all her roles, her mission is the same.
“I think the major theme through each role are racial equity and then addressing anti-blackness within systems,” she said. “With my philanthropic role, I’m actively investing in entrepreneurial ecosystems to support underrepresented business owners and founders that being folks of color, black folks, women, so on and so forth.”
By opening her burger joint in North Omaha, last year during the pandemic, her entrepreneurship is making a difference.
“With my restaurant, being a business owner, we really wanted to be thoughtful about how we show up in our community,” she said. “So we use higher grade, quality ingredients. We're an employer, we provide jobs to the community and we also work and built a business where we live.”
She strives to make a difference — even in her own household with her seven-year-old son.
“My son says he's the manager of Best Burger,” she said. “I'm already wanting to embed this entrepreneurial environment and feel for him as well. It's been really exciting to see despite some of the hardships that exist.”
I Be Black Girl advocates at the intersection of race and gender.
“We are the lead organizer on a natural hair bill that will expand and clarify protections in the workplace, which is big,” she said. “We are advocating for paid medical leave in partnership with Women’s Fund.”
As we celebrate her work and the work of other black leaders in Omaha, Spivey said this is a great time for us to reflect on how we can celebrate Black History Month. Not just in February, but every day.
“Go to a place that you wouldn't go to, patronize Black businesses, put them in your rotation throughout the rest of the year,” she said. “I hope this month gives people hope and an intentional deep dive, but they're still committed long term to embracing and understanding black culture.”
In the spirit of reflectivity, Spivey said it's time to acknowledge those who also paved the path for her.
“To achieve racial equity...I don't think it'll be in my lifetime....but we're each chipping away at it to leave the world in a better place in the way in which we received it,” she said. “I just really want to uplift them and thank them for the work that they've done so that I can do the work that I'm doing today.”