Check back often for the latest news regarding Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana.

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  • 16 Jan 2018 4:50 PM | John Felts (Administrator)

    The YLNI Board of Directors has closely followed the redevelopment process of the former GE Campus, now named Electric Works.  

    Based on prior member feedback, our board supported the initial efforts of finding a developer for the downtown campus. A developer has since been selected and has been working to bring the campus back to life. Our board has been in contact with the development team and has toured the facility. 

    In the near future, YLNI's CEA committee will release informational pieces and surveys to our members and network to gather their thoughts and feelings on the project. Our board encourages members and all emerging leaders to learn more about the development process, including visiting Electric Works website at

    The Electric Work development team is scheduled to present the project to Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday, January 30, starting at 5:30 p.m. We encourage everyone to attend the presentation to learn more about the project and to show your support.

    If you’re unable to attend in person, you can watch the presentation online at The public will have opportunity to express their thoughts on the project at this meeting.

  • 08 Jan 2018 11:25 AM | Sarah Dove (Administrator)

    There are plenty of reasons to join YLNI, like to meet new people, access development opportunities, and get involved in the community, just to name a few. But who better to share reasons to join than our very own members? 

    In this NEW series, we talk to our members and find out exactly why they chose to participate in Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. 

    This month, we talked to member Justin Hayes, a Senior Credit Analyst at Lake City Bank here in Fort Wayne. Here's what he had to say:

    What is your involvement with YLNI, and how long have you been involved?

    Justin: I have been a member of YLNI for almost two years now and am currently a co-chair of YLNI’s Leadership Institute. I am an active member who regularly attends the YLNI Hot Spots as well as volunteering with the farmers market in the summer months when possible.

    Why did you decide to join YLNI?

    I joined YLNI in 2016 because I truly believed in their mission to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders through community, professional and social engagement. I wanted to join an organization where I felt like I was making a difference within the community and that’s exactly what YLNI does.

    What do you hope to accomplish as a member of YLNI?

    As a member of YLNI I hope to continue to make an impactful difference within not only the organization but within our community."

    What makes you most proud to be a young leader in northeast Indiana?

    I’m proud to be a leader within northeast Indiana because I feel that our community leaders are truly listening to younger leaders to help continue to build and develop northeast Indiana into a place people will want to live and start a family.

    If you were showing someone around northeast Indiana who had never been before, where is the first place you would take them?

    When I have friends come from out of town, I always take them downtown to Parkview Field, and explain to them what the future holds for downtown development. It always amazes me to see how interested they are to know when some of the developments will be finished, so they can come back to visit. Our downtown is very unique and is somewhat of a hidden gem because you can’t really see our downtown “skyline” from the highways like many other cities such as Indianapolis or Chicago

    Everyone has a reason for being a part of this community of leaders. Why are you YLNI?

    Written by Sarah Dove: a Fort Wayne local, digital marketing specialist, and newest member of the Communications committee of YLNI. 

  • 01 Jan 2018 7:00 AM | Jasmine Bejar (Administrator)

    (photo: J K O'Donnell's Irish Ale House)

    That’s a wrap, folks—another year in the books. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on 2017 already, and what I’ve decided is that it’s time to look forward. It seems that every year promises more growth and excitement in northeast Indiana, and as a transplant who has made it her mission to be _very_ in tune to what’s happenin’ around town, I feel like 2018’s momentum is two feet in front of me, waving it’s wily arms, begging to be noted and taken advantage of.

    As an overly-enthusiastic and active community member, I couldn’t help but put together a run-down of what I’m most excited for in 2018.

    Eating at more local restaurants 

    Okay—this one is a bit vague, and nothing particularly new to 2018 relative to every other year, but I couldn’t start this list without stating the obvious. Fort Wayne, endearingly known as “The City of Restaurants,” seems to have new delicious, local food options popping up left and right (in addition to the longstanding favorites). Dash-In, Banh Mi Pho, J K O’Donnell’s, Bravas. Food trucks galore (I’m actually counting down the days until Lunch on the Plaza returns). And the biggest question I have right now: What’s going into the Ash Brokerage Skyline building where The Golden used to be? Only 2018 can tell! 

    Watching downtown continue to flourish 

    Riverfront Fort Wayne, The Landing, Electric Works, Arts Campus—there’s so much going on, I can’t wait to actually SEE this continue to progress. These amenities are necessities, and every year we’re closer to seeing them to fruition and improving our lives. 

    Biking—anytime and anywhere 

    It may be because we’ve been enduring sub-zero temperatures for weeks now, it may be because I got a new bike for Christmas, but regardless of the reason, I can’t wait for the weather to turn and to break out two wheels instead of four. It’s just two miles from my house to work, and did you hear that Fort Wayne just celebrated its 100th mile of trails? I’m ready to hop on! (Don't forget about Zagster—Fort Wayne's bike share—if you don't have a bike of your own!)

    photo: Dustin Keeslar

    Jammin’ at Middle Waves Music Festival 

    If you haven’t heard of the Middle Waves Music Festival yet, well, you may just be living under a rock. Middle Waves is the two-day destination music festival in downtown Fort Wayne at Headwaters Park that beckons 30+ regional and national acts, food, art experiences and so much more. This will be the third year for the festival, and the previous two boast national performers like The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Best Coast, Shannon and the Clams and Thao and the Get Down Stay Down.  It happens in September every year—be on the lookout for more announcements including official dates and lineup. 

    Getting more involved with YLNI 

    I first became involved with YLNI in 2015 when I was a senior in college (wow, three years already...where did the time go!), and I’ve since treasured the connections and opportunities it presents me with all of the time. I call 2018 the year I put my membership to its best use, going to more events, starting with the January Hot Spot on January 18 at 5:30 PM at Columbia Street West.

    A small, but mighty list looking forward to 2018. What's on your dock? 


    Written by Jasmine Bejar, all opinions are her own. 

  • 21 Dec 2017 11:00 AM | John Felts (Administrator)

    Congratulations to the 40 emerging leaders selected to the 2018 Leadership Institute!

    Allison Acosta (Johnson Controls)
    Tyler Bearman (JH Specialty)
    Steven Bressler (Ash Brokerage)
    Joe Burtnette (Lake City Bank)
    Monica Casanova (Allen County Public Library)
    Kristin Conley (Indiana Tech)
    Paige Doellman (SCAN, Inc.)
    Nate Edgington (Johnson & Johnson)
    Danielle Falk (Lincoln Financial Group)
    Morgan Ferguson (Omni Source)
    Kristin Giant (Impact Finance Center)
    Adam Hall (Strahm Building Solutions)
    Ashley Harman (80/20 Inc)
    Greg Hetrick (Manchester University)
    Hannah Hewes (Trine University)
    Samantha Jacobs (Noble County EDC)
    Cory Jenkins (SIRVA)
    Jon Kruse (Lincoln Financial Group)
    Justine Kuzniar (80/20 Inc)
    Tyler Lantz (Fort Wayne TinCaps)
    Simone LeClear (3Rivers Federal Credit Union)
    Dana Lorber (Walgreens)
    Jackie Martinez (Healthier Moms and Babies)
    Luke Mungovan (Lake City Bank)
    Erin Okeson (Visit Fort Wayne)
    Aaron Pretice (Micropulse Inc.)
    Steven Putt (Design Collaborative)
    Carrie Reeb (Fort4Fitness)
    Sarah Rodriguez (Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership)
    Gabrielle Sherbondy (Ash Brokerage)
    Haylee Shirkey (Parkview Regional Medical Center)
    Meghan Short (Sweetwater)
    Jennifer Simmons (Ivy Tech Community College)
    Thomas Starks Jr. (Ash Brokerage)
    A.J. Stites (First Insurance Group)
    Ryan Tuttle (Lincoln Financial Group)
    Jason Villarreal (Design Collaborative)
    Kelli Warner (Design Collaborative)
    Marshall Weadick (Lake City Bank)
    Taylor Yoder (Parkview Health)

    The 2018 Leadership Institute kick-off event is planned for Wednesday,  January 17 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Crazy Pinz Entertainment Center. 

  • 19 Dec 2017 5:32 PM | John Felts (Administrator)

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) joined Fort Wayne City Council today for a presentation and signing of the Fort Wayne Commitment and Inclusivity Pledge.

    Fort Wayne City Council signed the pledge on behalf of the citizens of Fort Wayne and promised to “promote a working environment that is welcoming and conducive to the success of all.” Councilman Dr. John Crawford introduced a resolution at last week’s city council meeting in support of YLNI’s inclusivity pledge.

    “In order for Fort Wayne to continue the positive growth we’ve seen over the last decade, we must continue to embrace perspectives from all walks of life and experiences to be truly diverse and inclusive,” Crawford said. “With this in mind, I support YLNI and call on business leaders in the community to take the pledge and show that we are committed to creating an environment for all people to succeed.”

    The pledge was created following the 4th annual My City Summit, which focused on
    supporting diversity and inclusion in our community. Since the summit, YLNI has worked with the local business community to develop a more inclusive, skilled, and diverse workforce.

    “YLNI’s mission is to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders in Northeast Indiana, and we believe it is difficult to attract and retain talent if new residents don’t feel welcomed or included,” said Stephanie Veit. “We are asking the business community to support our pledge and help us attract the best talent to our region.”

    Fort Wayne City Council joined more than 40 local community organizations and businesses who have signed the pledge:

    1st Source Bank, 3 Rivers FCU, Acuity Mergers + Acquisitions, AEP, Arts United, Baker Street, Barnes and Thornburg LLP, Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne,  City of Fort Wayne, City of New Haven, Don Ayres Honda, Dupont Hospital, Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne Black Chamber of Commerce, Fort Wayne Trails, Fort Wayne Metals, Fort Wayne UNITED, Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Hoppy Gnome, JP Morgan Chase, Kelly Automotive, Lake City Bank, Lincoln Financial Group, Lutheran Hospital, Manchester University, NE Indiana Works, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Ortho NE, Parkview Hospital, PHP, Questa Foundation, Radiation Oncology Association, Rea Magnet Wire, Ridge Napa, Stein Ad Promos, Star Bank, State Farm Insurance, Strahm, United Way, Voices of Unity, Weigand Construction, Wells Fargo Bank, Whittle Consulting, WPTA, Wunderkammer Company, Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana.

  • 15 Nov 2017 10:19 AM | John Felts (Administrator)

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana is proud to welcome back the Leadership Institute program in 2018!

    YLNI’s Leadership Institute connects emerging leaders with their peers and their community as they gain career skills. Through hands-on instruction, small group activities, and personal reflection, participants will develop skills needed to help them advance in their careers and community.

    The 2018 YLNI Leadership Institute takes place over six Fridays from January through April. The program kicks off Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

    All applications must be submitted by Friday, December 8, 2017 to be considered. We encourage employers to sponsor their emerging leaders' participation.

    For more information on different session topics, dates, and times, or to apply, please visit the YLNI Leadership Institute page.  

  • 23 Oct 2017 3:05 PM | John Felts (Administrator)

    Everyone should have a warm coat this winter.

    YLNI is proud to partner with SCAN in collecting new, warm coats for local children in need this winter. Donations will be accepted at the November Hot Spot on Thursday, November 16 at DeBrand Chocolatier in the Ash Skyline Plaza from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Cash donations will also be accepted towards purchasing a coat. 

    If you are unable to attend November's Hot Spot, please contact Kourtney at, and she will arrange a time to pick up your donation.

  • 19 Oct 2017 4:22 PM | John Felts (Administrator)

    Chris Polhamus has joined the Board of Directors for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, it was announced Thursday.  

    Chris will serve as the Director at Large of Technology, overseeing YLNI's website, web-based programs, technical support, and software.

    Chris was born and raised in Fort Wayne, where he currently works as an Account Manager for JH Specialty. Chris earned his bachelor's degree in Marketing from Butler University.

    He graduated from the YLNI Leadership Institute in 2014 and has been a member of YLNI ever since. In his downtime, Chris enjoys spending time with his family as well as being a sports enthusiast and outdoorsman.

  • 17 Oct 2017 12:52 PM | John Felts (Administrator)

    On October 17, the YLNI Board of Directors sent a letter to Fort Wayne City Council members in support of maintaining funding Fort Wayne UNITED. 

    Dear Members of Fort Wayne City Council,

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana writes in support of maintaining funding for Fort Wayne UNITED in the 2018 City of Fort Wayne budget.

    YLNI strongly believes Fort Wayne UNITED serves as an important initiative to our community’s efforts to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy, and help create a safer city for everyone, especially for black men and boys. This combination aligns with YLNI’s mission in attracting, developing, and retaining emerging leaders.

    YLNI advocates for and has taken action to support diversity and inclusion in our community. We hosted a “My City Summit” to speak specifically about this matter and launched a diversity and inclusion pledge that has been signed by over 50 community and business leaders, including leaders from Fort Wayne UNITED.

    We applaud the efforts of Fort Wayne UNITED Director Iric Headley and his passionate group of volunteers for providing hope for youth in Fort Wayne. We hope their efforts can continue well into the future.

    In closing, YLNI appreciates City Council for being good stewards of taxpayers money by reviewing the budget and implementing programs to advance our city and region forward. 

    Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.


    YLNI Board of Directors 

  • 15 Sep 2017 11:16 AM | John Felts (Administrator)

    John Hudson has been named to the Board of Directors for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, it was announced today. 

    In his role, John will serve as the Director at Large of Community Impact. His duties include enhancing YLNI’s community involvement efforts and drive initiatives that YLNI decides to support. 

    John has been engaged within YLNI since returning to Fort Wayne in 2009, such as serving as chair of Community Engagement and Advocacy (CEA) and most recently chair of YLNI the VOTE.

    Born and raised in Northeast Indiana, John works as a Graduate Architect for Viridian Architectural Design. He graduated from Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Architecture.

    Formerly, John has been involved with Rotaract and served as a board member of Family and Children's Services dba Headwaters Counseling. He enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.

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