Maha is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on bringing people together. We curate and produce cultural experiences with the goal of positively impacting our home city, Omaha.
Our main event is Maha Festival, a volunteer-powered celebration of music and discovery that takes place every summer.
Founded as Maha Music Festival in 2009, the event has grown steadily since its inaugural fest, which took place in front of a humble crowd on the Omaha riverfront. At the ten-year mark, the festival began its evolution from a traditional music festival into a multi-faceted community event when it took on operations for Big Omaha, which had been the area’s most celebrated innovation and entrepreneurship conference.
Since the start, Maha has welcomed hundreds of music acts, dozens of speakers, and attendees from all 50 states, all fueled by a dedicated group of hundreds of amazing volunteers.
Maha will continue to evolve into an annual collection of experiences that reflect the diverse cultural aspects of our community and region — a broad mix, ranging from live music to food & drink showcases, art installations to film screenings, speaker events to comedy shows, and the many creative ventures in between.
The city of Omaha exists on land that has been home to culture and community long before our organization was ever conceived. The Omaha tribe, for which our city is named, was also known as U-Mo’n-Ho’n (“upstream” or “against the current”). The Tribe originally settled near the Missouri River, and in the early 1700s were mapped as “the Maha, a wandering nation.”
Beginning in the 1800s, contact with European settlers resulted in waves of devastating smallpox epidemics, and a series of treaties were signed between the Tribe and the federal government, all of which reduced the Tribe’s sovereignty or land, or both.
In 1854, the Omaha tribe was forced to cede their land and move to a reservation that is present-day Macy, Nebraska. The U.S. government’s founding of Omaha did not mean that the Tribe disappeared, however. They continued to adapt to life on the reservation, and by the 20th century, many had moved back to the city of Omaha.
Though we acknowledge the Omaha tribe in recognizing the origin name of our organization and festival, it is important to also note that they were not the only area tribe displaced. Others include the Southern Ponca, Ioway, Otoe, Missouri, and the Sauk and Fox tribes.
80+ Key Volunteers and Captains
800+ Event Volunteers
Board of Directors
Sarah Baker Hansen, Secretary
Shannon Gilroy, Vice President
Rob Rodriguez, Treasurer
TJ Twit, President
FORMER BOARD MEMBERS/ADVISORS
John Henry Muller
2023 Maha members
Dual and Individual Members – Center Stage
Tre Brashear and Kari O’Neill Potts
Hobson and Denise Powell
Lee and Lauren Martin
Matthew and Sarah Baker Hansen
Jay and Mary Palu
Kurt Protzman and Wendy Siefken Haas
TJ and Katie Twit
Dual and Individual Members – Honorary