Senator Rick Kolowski was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in November 2012, re-elected in November 2016 for a second term, and represents District 31 in southwest Omaha. He serves on the Education, Natural Resources and State Retirement Systems Legislative Committees. He was elected as Vice Chairman of the Education Committee in January 2015, and again in January 2017. He was first appointed to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact 2013-19, and the Council of State Government's Education Public Policy Committee 2013-17.
Kolowski was born December 26, 1944, in LaSalle, Illinois. He graduated from LaSalle-Peru Township High School in 1962. Kolowski served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 1964-1967. He received his BA in Government from Lake Forest College in 1966, his M.S. in History/Secondary Education, from the University of Nebraska-Omaha in 1970, and his Ph.D. in Secondary Education with emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction and Education Administration in 1978 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Senator Kolowski is currently an educational consultant and Administrator of Record for ‘NOVA’ Program. He was the founding principal of Millard West High School in Omaha, Nebraska from 1993-2008. He retired in 2008 after 41 years in public education. He was a teacher, department head, curriculum coordinator, assistant principal, and director of secondary education, in addition to being a high school principal.
Kolowski was on the Board of Directors, of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, 2004-2012 (assistant treasurer, vice-chairman, chairman). He serves on the Board of Governors, Phi Delta Kappa Education Foundation, 2011-present, and was vice-chairman of the Learning Community Coordinating Council of Douglas and Sarpy Counties (2009-11). He is a member of the Southwest Kiwanis Club, Omaha, 2005-present, the University of Nebraska President's Advisory Council, a past board member of the UNL College of Education and Human Science Alumni Association, member of UNL and UNO Alumni Associations, the Sierra Club, Ducks Unlimited and the Arbor Day Foundation. Senator Kolowski is a former member of the Omaha City Parks Committee, 2010-12, and the Omaha 2000 Education Committee, 1993-2003. He served on the board of directors, Phi Delta Kappa, 1989-2003 (international president, 1999-2001), the Omaha South/Southwest YMCA (board chairman, 1989-91) and Leadership Omaha, class of 1987-88.
He has received the following honors and awards including the 2007 Outstanding Administrator, Nebraska Music Educators Association, the 2006 Friend of Education Award, the 2000 and 2007 Nebraska State Region II Principal of the Year Award, and the 2006 National Principal of the Year; National Science Teachers Association; 2014 Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD); and was honored in 2014 as a National Afterschool Alliance Champion.