History of NHRRF

The Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation

The Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation was established in 1949 at the University of Nebraska. At that time, the field of psychology was primarily focused on the diagnosis and treatment of people with problems. Very little was known about the psychology of success, the psychology of strengths, and the benefit of the positive psychology approach.Dr. William E. Hall and Dr. Donald O. Clifton are considered the pioneers of the study of positive psychology. Their realm of academic study centered on examining students who seemed to relate well with people. Throughout all of their years of research, they learned that these students shared a common theme: they had people in their lives ("difference makers") who identified their strengths and provided them with opportunities to develop those strengths.

The powerful outcomes of this research sparked a new idea. With the help of James Stuart, Sr. of Lincoln's National Bank of Commerce, Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation was born. In this innovative organization, outstanding college students (counselors) were paired with equally outstanding local high school students (counselees) in one-to-one relationships. Dr. Hall and Dr. Clifton continued to see that the best way to help people grow and to build on their strengths is to be involved in positive relationships with successful people who are willing and capable of investing in others.

Since the days of Dr. Hall and Dr. Clifton, NHRRF has continued its legacy of developing leadership through investment relationships much to the credit of the directors who served this organization: Dr. Galen Dodge (1965 - 1992), Dr. Susan Fritz (1994 - 1996), Janet Kauffman (1996 - 2008), and Dr. Lindsay Hastings (2008-2020), Dr. Hannah Sunderman (2020 - 2022), Dr. Marianne Lorensen (2022 - Present). NHRRF has seen many locations and funding sources throughout its history, as well as a program name change to Nebraska Human Resources Institute (NHRI) in 1988 and then a name refresh to NHRI Leadership Mentoring in 2019. (The Board of Directors retains 'Nebraska Human Resources Research Foundation' as the non-profit arm responsible for providing support for NHRI Leadership Mentoring.) After 75 years, NHRI Leadership Mentoring continues to stand proud today, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of college students and young people. With its current home in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC), NHRI Leadership Mentoring hopes to continue its legacy for many years to come.