Mark Gudgel was born and raised in Valentine, Nebraska.
He developed a strong work ethic and learned the value of community as the son of a nurse and a well driller-turned-bookstore owner, and spent time working on the ranch his grandfather homesteaded in the Sandhills. After graduating from Valentine Rural High School, Mark studied English education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in order to pursue his lifelong love of learning and serve his community. After graduation from UNL, Mark taught English at Lincoln Southwest High School where he taught for ten years. During this period he also coached basketball and track at three LPS middle schools, as well as women’s basketball at Lincoln East High School and Nebraska Wesleyan University.
While living in Lincoln, Mark completed a fellowship with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and accepted a job working for the institution. While employed at the Museum, Mark co-founded a non-profit organization, the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, and served as its executive director for six years, regularly traveling to Rwanda and supporting teachers as the nation continued recovering from genocide.
During this time Mark met and fell in love with Sonja and they were married in February of 2013. Soon after their wedding, Mark briefly moved to London through the Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Research Program, conducting research in the field of Holocaust education. In 2015, Mark received his doctorate in the field of Character Education.
Mark and Sonja purchased their first home together in Omaha’s Field Club neighborhood and soon after started their own family. In 2014, Mark accepted a position at Omaha North High Magnet School teaching English and coaching women’s basketball and cross country. Mark’s global worldview, experiences, and passion for the pursuit of equity led him to introduce courses in genocide studies and world religions. In 2017, Mark returned to Nebraska Wesleyan University as an adjunct professor in the M.Ed. program. Mark was a recipient of the Award of Excellence from the Nebraska Department of Education in 2020. Mark also chairs the vinNEBRASKA committee, serves on the Omaha Performing Arts Presenters Circle Board of Directors, and recently joined the Field Club Home Owners’ Association Board.
When not teaching, coaching, volunteering, or running, Mark is with his family. Their son Titus will enter kindergarten next year and their daughter Zooey is right on his heels. Titus and Zooey love visiting the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, exploring the family ranch, and playing at the parks in the neighborhood where they live. As a lifelong public servant, Mark’s mayoral candidacy reflects 17 years of developing stronger communities and a desire to make his adopted hometown one where his students, as well as his children—and yours—can thrive for generations to come.
Mark at TEDxLincoln
Mark’s TED Talk centers on his experiences in Holocaust education in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as the work he does with his global nonprofit in Rwanda. Through anecdotes and personal examples, he explains why the world is in good hands with this up-and-coming generation as long as we do the right things to help prepare them.