Written by Libby Valerio-Boster, Intern with UNL interviewing Rotary 14 members.
Topher Hansen is a man of the people. He believes in people so much that he is the CEO of CenterPointe, a nonprofit that specializes in mental health and addiction treatment for low income and homeless people in Omaha and Lincoln, NE. For our interview, he showed me around the building that CenterPointe is currently remodeling to be a new clinic. Hansen’s passion for helping others and his belief that relationships are the most important part of life are truly inspiring. This is what led him to both join Rotary and seek ways to help so many patients with their complete health.
Hansen is originally from Minneapolis, MN but moved to Omaha at 18 months. He lived in Omaha for about 12 years before moving to Lincoln where he has been ever since. He taught ethics and practiced law for many years. He first worked for CenterPointe as legal counsel and in resource development before becoming the CEO in 2000. His work as legal counsel is what led Hansen to Rotary. He joined Rotary 14 in 1996 on the advice of his board director. He joined only knowing that he was joining a civic organization but after the first meeting he knew he had witnessed an amazing group. Hansen loves that each person in Rotary 14 is there for the right reasons: to help others, contribute to their community, and build friendships and networks. While he says he is not as involved currently because of other time commitments, Hansen is a huge believer in Rotary, its code built on positive principles, and its “service over self” motto.
Similar to many other parts of his life, Hansen’s favorite Rotary project revolves around building relationships. He has thoroughly enjoyed the international work that Rotary does including constructing ways to find water in South America and fundraising for various projects. Also, he has enjoyed watching the benefits of the student exchange in which students from the US go abroad and students from other countries come here. He fondly remembers another Rotary member telling him that Rotary would “bring world peace” through the student exchange by building good will. Hansen also has enjoyed Rotary 14 projects in Lincoln such as the Sunken Gardens and the Elliott Elementary projects as he thinks anything that can beautify the Lincoln community is worth doing. Hansen is proud of the health of Rotary 14. He recognizes that Covid has hit civic groups hard but that the leadership in Rotary 14 has done a spectacular job making the meetings accessible online and providing people with a way to still gather.
Lastly, when asked about an individual that inspires him, Hansen chose Abraham Lincoln. He believes Lincoln is inspirational because he fought through hardship in his childhood, business career, and political career and still became a wonderful leader and wise person. Hansen admires his grit and the peace that Lincoln brokered for our country. Personally, I find this answer unsurprising. Hansen himself works as the CEO of a company that revolves around people going through hardships and hopefully coming out on the other side of treatment as a whole, healthy person. Topher Hansen certainly understands the benefits of hard work and relationships and through Rotary 14 has had a chance to further his pursuit of both while doing what he loves.