Tax attorney, community philanthropist, bring new perspectives to Platte Institute board

Tax attorney, community philanthropist, bring new perspectives to Platte Institute board

Jo Ellen Stock, Assistant Vice President of State and Local Taxes for Union Pacific, and Lori Scott, an Omaha-area philanthropist with a background in education and health care, have been elected to the Platte Institute’s board of directors.

The board of directors currently has 11 members who are responsible for overseeing the organization’s mission and budget. Members represent regions throughout Nebraska and serve for three-year terms, which may be renewed. You can find the whole board roster here.

Born in Nebraska, Stock spent some of her youth in New Mexico before returning to study at Creighton University. Stock holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Creighton University and a Juris Doctor from Creighton University School of Law.

Stock joined Union Pacific in 1997 and currently leads the railroad’s state tax team. Her work entails legislation, tax planning, compliance, and litigation in all 23 states where Union Pacific operates. Stock has served as a board or committee member for numerous state and business tax associations, including on the legal committee for the Council on State Taxation, serving as chair of the board of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, and as a board member of the Utah Taxpayers Association.

In addition, Stock is a graduate of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Omaha program.

“For any nonprofit, it’s so important to have board members who are aligned with your mission, but Jo Ellen’s perspective as a tax attorney representing a Fortune 500 company throughout the country also means she deeply understands the impact of the Platte Institute’s mission,” Jim Vokal, Chief Executive Officer of the Platte Institute, said.

“Jo Ellen sees first-hand how tax policies can help or hurt economic opportunities and the ease of doing business in states. Her insights will guide our continued efforts for creating a more modern, simple, and sustainable tax system in Nebraska,” Vokal said.

The Platte Institute engages in research and advocacy on topics including regulatory reform, government spending, and tax policy, and frequently testifies on tax legislation before the Unicameral’s Revenue Committee. In recent years, the Platte Institute has successfully opposed more than $1 billion in state tax and fee increases, including a proposal to increase taxes on businesses receiving emergency relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most recently, state senators have advanced a proposal backed by the Platte Institute that would require local governments to notify taxpayers about their opportunity to participate in a public meeting before a property tax increase can be adopted.

“I see up-close and personal what works in a tax environment and what doesn’t, and the Platte Institute is helping policymakers find solutions that work well and allow Nebraska to compete in a global economy,” Jo Ellen Stock said.

“By structuring its tax policy in a thoughtful way, not only will the state have more economic growth, but we’ll have more resources for investing in schools, health care, and community amenities that all Nebraskans value,” Stock said.

Lori Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Special Education from the University of Northern Iowa and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Care Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Scott worked in the nonprofit field for more than 20 years, and currently serves on the boards of Brownell Talbot School, Northwestern College, QLI, CRCC, and the YMCA of Greater Omaha.

“Lori has dedicated her career and community involvement to investing in people—getting them the care and the tools they need to overcome obstacles and reach their potential,” Vokal said.

“She’s someone who can help more people in the community, and also on our team, see how the Platte Institute’s mission of removing barriers fits into a larger vision of a Nebraska where everyone can pursue their life goals,” Vokal said.

The Platte Institute’s job licensing reform efforts have helped streamline a number of requirements for getting a job or starting a business in Nebraska. Those efforts have grown to include other reforms, including the successful expansion of Nebraska’s cottage food law, legalizing mobile personal care businesses for cosmetologists, barbers, nail technicians, and massage therapists, and an on-going campaign to eliminate restrictions on competition among non-emergency medical transportation providers.

“The Platte Institute is striving to set an example here in Nebraska, to see what we can do to make our state a better place to live and work, and how we respond resiliently to the challenges we’ve faced over the last year,” Lori Scott said.

“Platte’s policy work has brought together people from all different points of view to open up new career paths in dozens of fields, and we can build upon those successes to find even more ways for people to access those opportunities and grow in Nebraska,” Scott said.

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