Above: Sen. John Fredrickson (left) relaxes with his husband Jeff and their son Leon in the family’s front yard.
Sen. John Fredrickson has always known he wanted to help make a difference in people’s lives. The only question was how best to be of service.
The newest representative of District 20 left his hometown of Omaha for New York City to attend college and pursue a career path that had long been his passion — social work. Fredrickson said he imagined himself working on larger scale issues through policy reform, but he discovered a new passion for clinical work through his undergraduate coursework at NYU.
“When I started my education and field placements, I really just fell in love with working one-on-one with clients,” he said. “I loved getting to really connect with people.”
After completing his bachelor’s degree, Fredrickson went on to attend Columbia University where he earned his master’s in social work with a focus on clinical practice. His experience in graduate school led to opportunities to work in LGBTQ+ health centers, federal prison, university counseling centers and several housing organizations.
But New York didn’t just yield Fredrickson the education and experience he was looking for, it also brought his husband, Jeff, into his life.
After many attempts by both Fredrickson’s sister and one of Jeff’s friends to set the two up, they finally met at an annual holiday party hosted by Fredrickson — who joked that it was his costume that won Jeff over.
“He couldn’t miss the tall elf in the room,” he laughed. “We started talking that night and honestly, the rest is history … we’ve been together almost 12 years now.”
After adopting their son, Leon, in 2019, the two decided to relocate to Omaha to raise their family. Back in his hometown, Fredrickson began working in private practice where he provided individual outpatient counseling and mental health treatment. It was this work that Fredrickson credits for reigniting his passion for public policy.
“When you work with patients clinically over a long period of time, you really start to pick up on different themes affecting their lives,” he said. “I needed to find the root of it all.”
Fredrickson realized that the Legislature lacked a representative with a mental health background who could provide critical expertise regarding the potential impact of legislation on communities. It’s that role — drawing on his diverse experiences in the social work field — that he hopes to fill as a lawmaker.
“That perspective needs to be at the table,” Fredrickson said. “I am ready to bring it.”