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

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  • 14 Mar 2019 3:32 PM | Katie Robinson (Administrator)

    “Where can a young professional create a personal relationship with a community leader?  Is there somewhere to simply ask questions and learn more about particular community leaders in a non-intimidating and intimate environment? “

    These were questions that I remember asking myself a few years ago before I joined Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana as a member.  I found the answer to these questions when I researched more about YLNI and ended up joining because I was very intrigued by the View from the Top and Power Lunch programs.  I became a member because I was interested in learning more about community leaders and how they got to where they are today.  What I didn’t realize is how easy it would be to access these leaders and their willingness to share their experiences with young professionals like myself. 

    My firsthand experience with this was when I signed up to be a part of the Power Lunch series.  I remember that I was able to select between four well known community leaders in which myself and four other YLNI members would have the privilege of meeting with once a month for four months.  Over those next four months we met with this community leader and were able to share experiences and ask questions.  What I found most interesting was that the leader asked just as many questions of us as we did of them.  By doing this we all felt that we really were on a personal level with this individual and that they really did care about what we had to say.  This gave us the opportunity to build a lasting relationship with the community leader in a way that I didn’t expect.  It has been three years, and I still keep in touch with this community leader and know that if I ever have a question about anything I can ask them.  Power Lunches are a great way to create that personal relationship with someone who can be a mentor and advisor to you throughout your career.

    Power Lunches were the answer to my first question above, and View from the Top would be the answer to my second question.  VFTT events are a great way to learn more about community leaders and entrepreneurs from various professional backgrounds in an intimate setting.  I remember going to my first few VFTT events and listening to the stories behind some local entrepreneurs who explained how they got to where they were today, along with the successes and struggles they endured along their journey.  In a more recent VFTT event that I attended there was group of community leaders in a panelist type setting, who discussed the continued growth and momentum of downtown Fort Wayne.  What I didn’t expect was them expressing the importance of the young professionals in the room, and how YLNI members have become such a valued voice within the community, as well as an instrumental part of the continued growth and momentum in the region.

    Over the past three years these two questions were easily answered by joining YLNI as a member and attending Power Lunches and View from the Top Events.  These are just two programs that YLNI has to offer with many others depending on what it is you are looking for as a young professional.  I personally have gained many valued relationships, and more than anything, friendships with young professionals like myself who I can continue to grow with for the years to come.


    Justin Hayes, Vice President of Leadership Development
    justin@ylni.org

  • 13 Feb 2019 3:17 PM | Katie Robinson (Administrator)

    Imagine walking into a neat, local restaurant and seeing a group of young professionals mingling in the corner. You are greeted by a couple of big, warm smiles and given a name tag. Would you be nervous, intimidated, excited, or maybe even a combination of the two?

    That’s exactly how I felt at my first Hot Spot six years ago - I was really intimidated and nervous. I had just graduated college and had never really got involved with campus or community events but YLNI looked interesting. Sure, I met a few people at the Hot Spot I attended, but at that time I was far too intimidated to feel comfortable, so I didn’t go back for a while. You would have never guessed then that I would be a future social butterfly within YLNI!

    Eventually I mustered up the courage to go back, and I’m so glad I did.

    Over the next few years, I attended a few more Hot Spots. Then, I started volunteering at the YLNI Farmer’s Market (formerly the Barr Street Market). Fast forward a few years and I had become a Hot Spot regular AND YLNI member. I worked my way up to Hot Spot Co-Chair because I was on a mission to ensure that anyone attending a Hot Spot felt welcome, comfortable, and wanted to come back the next month (not waiting YEARS like I did). It was, and remains, important to me that people had a familiar face each month.

    Through YLNI events, such as Hot Spots, I have met so many people that have become close friends. Friends that I have “Fajita Friday” with. Friends I brunch with. Even friends who helped me celebrate my new daughter. YLNI has introduced me to friends who now feel like family. Whenever I look back, I am so glad that I mustered up the courage to jump back in.

    Hot Spots are many people’s first experience with YLNI. They are casual, fun, and open to both members and non-members. Want to meet new friends? Want to gain new business contacts? Want to learn how you can do good in the community? YLNI can help you do all that and more - so much more!

    Now, flashback to when you walked into the neat restaurant…remember those big, warm smiles that greeted you? They belong to Diedre Matheny and Josey Seabolt, the current Co-Chairs of YLNI Hot Spots. Diedre and/or Josey are at every Hot Spot ready to meet you and ensure you feel welcome. I’m there most months, too.

    We’ll see you on the third Thursday of each month. Bring a friend, colleague, or come solo – we can’t wait to meet you!

    Britny Berndt, Vice President of Social Programming
    britny@ylni.org


  • 08 Feb 2019 11:38 AM | Katie Robinson (Administrator)


    The Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) Farmers Market will return to downtown Fort Wayne each Saturday beginning May 18, 2019 and running through September 28, 2019. The market runs each Saturday during the season from 9:00AM to 1:00PM YLNI is now accepting applications for interested vendors and non-profit organizations to participate in this summer’s market.

    For the fifteenth season, YLNI will partner with the History Center to host a unique, urban outdoor shopping experience on the corner of Barr Street and Wayne Street. Over the years the market has expanded to offer attendees a variety of exciting experiences in addition to great local vendors. Nearly 3,500 people attend the market each week.

    The YLNI Farmers Market will feature dozens of local vendors who will sell fresh produce, handmade baked goods, crafts, artwork, and much more.  Every vendor is local and comes from the Northeast Indiana region.

    To enhance the overall experience for market patrons, the YLNI Farmer’s Market is excited to once again offer free yoga classes, children’s activities, live entertainment, food trucks, and more! The market plans to expand this year to offer even more space for attendees to enjoy. To celebrate fifteen years of the market, there will also be some exciting surprises throughout the market season.

    If you’re interested in becoming a vendor this summer, please visit ylni.org/farmers-market to complete an online application. A vendor meeting will also be held on Monday, March 4, 2019 at 6:00PM at the History Center, 302 East Berry Street.

    For more information, please visit ylni.org/farmers-market or email specific questions to market@ylni.org.

  • 17 Jan 2019 1:20 PM | Katie Robinson (Administrator)

    On January 9, YLNI’s Leadership Institute program kicked off with forty emerging leaders meeting for the first time at Crazy Pinz for an evening of getting to know each other, and fun. Why Crazy Pinz, you might ask? YLNI connects young professionals through social, professional, and community engagement. Crazy Pinz offers a great space for gathering and creating the social capital needed to make a program like Leadership Institute successful. Pizza, beer, and bowling – what better way to break the ice and show your vulnerable side than by barely breaking 100 in bowling!

     The YLNI Leadership Institute brings all three pillars of our organization together: social, professional, and community engagement. Since 2006, over 400 community leaders have completed Leadership Institute. These young professionals participate in six sessions over the course of three months to advance their career skills and professional development. Through hands-on instruction, small group activities, personal reflection, and sharing, participants develop skills needed to help them grow in their careers and community. Topics range from personality recognition and communication effectiveness to board stewardship and diversity in the workplace. Participants graduate with a new and increased social network that can be used to bounce ideas off of each other. They are made more aware of community activities and the role they play in making them successful. Connectivity begins to happen and, as a result, an attachment to community is developed. These are all outcomes that business and community leaders want to see from a leadership development program.

    YLNI has hosted 14 Leadership Institute programs to date. The popularity of the program has grown to the extent that the application process is extremely competitive, with potential Institute participants having to apply multiple times before they are accepted. This year, eight of the 40 applicants accepted were applying to the program for the second time. The variety of professions represented is also extremely diverse this year. Thirty-one different employers are represented in this year’s class. This diverse population creates an excellent network of young professionals from a variety of fields that this cohort will have access to for the remainder of their careers.

    The first session for the 2019 Leadership Institute begins this Friday, January 18. Our board members, and myself particularly as the Director at Large for Leadership Development, are all excited to see the transformation that these leaders will go through during the six sessions. Just as YLNI’s mission is “to attract, retain, and develop emerging leaders through social, professional, and community engagement,” these program participants will be much more devoted to the community of Northeast Indiana, strengthening their resolve to invest their talents here.

    Congratulations, class of 2019! I can’t wait to see what you do!

    Rena Burden, Director at Large - Leadership Development
    rena@ylni.org


  • 21 Dec 2018 12:49 PM | Katie Robinson (Administrator)

    Congratulations to the following emerging leaders who will take part in the 2019 YLNI Leadership Institute!

    Andrea Aboufadel (MedPro Grouo)
    Stephen Anstett (Alro Steel)
    Anna Baer (City of Fort Wayne)
    Samuel Battistone (Purdue Fort Wayne - Athletics)
    Nathan Berndt (ThermaTru)
    Michael Bianski (Indiana Michigan Power)
    Doug Blomeke (Steel Dynamics)
    Tori Bontrager (Parkview Health)
    Britney Breidestein (Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana)
    Ian Broad-White (Park Center, Inc.)
    Matthew Brown (Bowen Center)
    Haley Chaires (Ash Brokerage)
    Julianne Cogley-Pifko (Manchester University Pharmacy Prog.)
    James Couchman (Ambassador Enterprises)
    Apurva Dubhashi (Steel Dynamics)
    Lindsey Dutrieux (Purdue University Fort Wayne)
    Lauren Elliott (Design Collaborative)
    Craig Fischer (First Federal Bank)
    Mariana Glover (Indiana Tech)
    Jaclyn Goldsborough (Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership)
    McKenzie Grubb (Manchester University Pharmacy Program)
    Randi Harvey (Parkview Health)
    Joshua Hendricks (Fort Wayne City Utilities)
    Amy Hetrick (Fort Wayne Metals)
    Trent Hullinger (Fort Wayne Police Department)
    Cassie Kurtz (Parkview Health)
    Rebecca Martin (Design Collaborative)
    Marcus McMillen (LABOV)
    Morgan Olson (Fort Wayne TinCaps)
    Giang Petroviak (Empyrean Events and Catering)
    Megan Posey (GiveHear)
    Kristen Powell (Lacie's Exclusive Hair Design)
    Ryan Powell (Lincoln Financial Group)
    Justin Uffelman (C.H. Robinson)
    Austin Valade (3Rivers FCU)
    Jessica Waggoner (Do It Best)
    Nicholas Weaver (Sweetwater Sound)
    Sean Weigand (The DeHayes Group)
    Cody Weikel (3Rivers FCU)
    Chelsea Wolpert (Garrett State Bank)

    The 2019 Leadership Institute will kickoff in January!

  • 14 Nov 2018 9:50 AM | Chris Polhamus (Administrator)

    In 2004, a group of emerging young leaders met at a restaurant to discuss how they, as a group, could make an impact in northeast Indiana in an effort to attract new talent to the area as well as retain talent already here. Officially established in 2005, Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana is in its 13th year of working to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders through community, professional, and social engagement. We’ve grown, we’ve expanded, and our presence and voice can be felt throughout Fort Wayne. If there’s one thing I regret about my personal involvement with YLNI, it’s that I didn’t join sooner and take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to our members.

    There are many reasons to become a paid member of YLNI, but the most important is that your dollars – only $45 annually – support our organization’s programming. Consider it an investment into your own community. To support this, here are thirteen reasons – one for each year we’ve been making an impact in northeast Indiana – why you should join YLNI.

    1. Your membership fee is an investment in emerging young leaders throughout northeast Indiana. The annual membership fee helps YLNI make all of the programs I’ve mentioned a possibility, most of them at no cost or low cost to attendees. We wouldn’t exist without a solid, strong member base. I am grateful to be part of this group of nearly 300 paid members, with new people joining regularly, and so many community leaders supporting and cheering our efforts every day.

    2. The High School Leadership Institute is offered at no cost to participating students, thanks in part to our membership fees. In June 2018, 19 high school students from throughout Allen County completed the inaugural program. They learned a lot from local leaders, but YLNI leadership learned a lot from them, too. Imagine if this program had existed when you were entering your junior or senior year of high school, and you could have participated for the low cost of just showing up because young leaders in your community saw value in developing your age group.

    3. Your voice will matter in local advocacy for community initiatives, as we survey our member base for their opinions on issues that matter to young leaders in northeast Indiana. Through the efforts of our Community Engagement and Advocacy committee, collectively, YLNI has made statements and taken positions on several local initiatives. These include but are not limited to the development of Parkview Field, Fort Wayne Riverfront development, the development of Electric Works, the redevelopment of The Landing, and Right-to-Work efforts.

    4. You’re supporting the YLNI Farmers Market, a summer weekend destination for thousands of residents and visitors to Fort Wayne that was established in 2005. Happening on Barr Street between Wayne and Berry Streets at the historic Barr Street plaza located behind The History Center, the market is available to vendors for a very low rental fee. Local human resources professionals and C-suite level executives have told YLNI leadership that the market is one of the things they always mention when recruiting new employees. It attracts talent, which is our objective in all our efforts.

    5. Local music thrives as a result of your investment at the Living Fort Wayne Concert Series. The free concert series just completed its fifth year. The events put local musicians in the spotlight while music goers enjoy dinner available from local food trucks and drinks from a local bar, all happening at Headwaters Park. It’s the perfect summer celebration using one of our city’s great parks, giving local musicians a chance to build their fan base through performance, and giving local chefs the opportunity to share their food with the masses. You’re missing out if you haven’t attended a Living Fort Wayne concert, which is partially supported through membership fees.

    6.  You're supporting leadership development in emerging young leaders through Leadership Institute, which has an alumni network of over 400. This is one of YLNI’s most successful programs. The 2019 class will be the 14th group to go through the course, which has grown and evolved since 2006. Aimed to develop the leadership skills of participants, the Leadership Institute can easily be credited as the program that brought me closer to YLNI. If you’re looking for a way to expand your network and develop your professional skills, consider applying for this program, held annually from January through April.

    7. You’re part of a network behind the Fort Wayne Commitment and Inclusivity Pledge. The Pledge has been signed by over 50 local businesses, and members of Fort Wayne’s City Council. Business leaders continue to sign the pledge, which was initiated in early 2017. YLNI believes in the pledge and the businesses represented on it who promise to “promote a working environment that is welcoming and conducive to the success of all.” By joining, you are part of a network promoting inclusivity in northeast Indiana.


    8. You’ll have the opportunity to make an actual difference in your city by joining one of the committees working to create unique opportunities in Fort Wayne. You get back as much as you put in. I joined YLNI in 2014 and my involvement has only grown since. Some join to network. Others join to build their leadership skills. Whatever your reason, we have a place for you to make a difference!

    9. Membership fees allow for low-cost opportunities to meet with, talk to, and get to know local leaders who will help you grow as a leader, and who regularly collaborate with YLNI to move the needle on necessary community initiatives. Want to spend your summer lunch hours getting to personally know a local leader? Apply for the Power Lunch Series. Interested in learning how the owners of local businesses became successful? Hear their story straight from them, and get the chance to ask them questions at View from the Top. The leaders in our community want to hear from our demographic! These are unique opportunities to building relationships with some of them.

    10. Monthly Hot Spots allow members and non-members to network and learn about our programs, as well as get to know each other professionally and personally. Taking place on the third Thursday of each month, Hot Spots happen at different locations to give us a view inside different restaurants around town. Come have a drink with us after work, learn about our programs from those already involved, and make a few new friends.

    11. Speaking of friends, that’s one of the best reasons to join YLNI. Friends. You’ll find some awesome people involved with YLNI. I’ve developed lasting relationships with so many people as a result of my involvement!

    12. Members are invited to cool community events, like the NYE Bash that we’re partnering with Don Hall’s to host on New Year’s Eve! If your friends are struggling to make solid plans for one of the biggest party nights of the year, YLNI has got you covered! This is only one of many community partnerships we’re involved with. We depend on the community to fully support us since we’re 100% volunteer based. We give back to them as often as we’re able to do so.

    13. Our members have the opportunity to write about things they’re passionate about in our community through the Living Fort Wayne blog. Writers highlight events, places to explore, and more in the blog. Learn more about where to hang out and what’s happening around town, and better yet, write about what you think is blog-worthy by volunteering with Living Fort Wayne.

    If you’re interested in any of these things, please reach out to me! I am happy to connect you with any of our committees, give you general information about our organization, or join you at your first Hot Spot. If you’ve thought about joining but haven’t yet… what are you waiting for?



    Kourtney Teegardin, VP of Membership

    kourtney@ylni.org



  • 29 Oct 2018 12:58 PM | Chris Polhamus (Administrator)

    For many years – 14 to be exact – Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana has been engaging with leaders in our region. I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of those conversations for the last five years, and each time I am able to share all that YLNI has to offer and how we can be working in partnership with our community, and I walk away with a spark of inspiration and a new piece of knowledge.  

    Last night, eight of our YLNI board members and thirteen community leaders gathered in my office at Barnes & Thornburg with one purpose in mind - to discuss how YLNI can best serve the organizations in our region with their talent attraction, development and retention efforts. That spark I usually leave with, was a full-blown firework!

    Our conversation was dynamic, engaging, connective and exciting! During our round table discussion we defined, as a group, what true leadership means. This is not the “climb over other people just to get to the top” idea of leadership. No, that’s not how any of us in that room define it. Leadership is not being the loudest person in the room; it isn’t being the biggest extrovert on the team; and it certainly is not being a person who exerts influence solely based on a position of power.

    To us, leadership is being so humble that you naturally create an environment where others, regardless of differences, feel included, respected and valued. Humility makes you “teachable.” It helps you acknowledge that you are not perfect and you do not have all the answers. Last night, I watched every person in the room absorb these little nuggets of information from everyone else. Not one person walked in the door thinking he or she had all the answers, and every person left the room with new ideas and information. Leadership is being so vulnerable that the people around you want to follow you because they feel connected to you on a “real” level. Good leaders exert influence because of who they are and their relationship with their team. Vulnerability promotes empathy and humanizes you. It takes courage to be vulnerable and admit you aren’t perfect.

    We began last night at a place of not knowing all of the answers as we talked about the barriers organizations face when it comes to talent attraction and retention. How do we attract quality talent to the area? How do we keep them engaged in work and their community? The ideas were flowing and we have a lengthy list of next steps, which leads me to this; leadership is being accountable to yourself and to your team. Good leaders accept responsibility for outcomes, both good and bad. They inspire trust in their teams because those who work with them know that failure is nothing more than a learning opportunity, and any opportunity to grow is a win. Good leaders also hold their team accountable to put forth their best effort for the greater good of the entire team. Accountability breeds inclusivity.

    Going into last night, I knew that the twenty-one of us there had a common interest, but I did not know that all of us would become a team. The passion for this region, our talent, developing leaders, and making Northeast Indiana a place where people want to be bonds us. We still don’t have all the answers, but what we do have is a team of leaders who exhibit humility, vulnerability, courage, and accountability. My expectations run high - stay tuned for what’s next!

    Thank you to the following community leaders for joining us:

    Marshall White – Unity Performing Arts Center
    Aaryn Eady - Unity Performing Arts Center
    Nelson Peters – Allen County Commissioner
    Ron Dick – Design Collaborative
    Ronald Elsenbaumer – Purdue Fort Wayne
    Ryan Fox – Ash Brokerage
    Jeanne Wickens – Parkview
    Mark Robison – Brotherhood Mutual
    Mike Galbraith – Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
    Mike Cahill – Ruoff Mortgage
    Bob Vitoux – Ambassador Enterprises
    Julie Inskeep – Journal Gazette
    John Hopkins - - Sweetwater Sound 


    Savannah M. Robinson
    YLNI Board President

    “Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”- Reed Markham


  • 12 Jul 2018 9:00 AM | Jasmine Bejar


    Seventeen emerging leaders have been named to the Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana Board of Directors for 2018-2019.

    Effective July 1, Savannah Robinson begins a two-year term as president, and Sarah Verpooten serves as vice president.

    The Board of Directors, which meets monthly, is the governing body of YLNI that will guide the organization to fulfill its goals.
    • Savannah Robinson, President
      Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    • Sarah Verpooten, Vice President
      Strahm Building Solutions
    • David Curry, Treasurer
      Lake City Bank
    • A.J. Stites, Secretary
      First Insurance Group
    • Patrick Florea, Director at Large, Executive Committee
      JH Specialty, Inc.
    • Kourtney Teegardin, Vice President, Membership
      Design Collaborative
    • Justin Hayes, Vice President Leadership Development
      Lake City Bank
    • John Hudson, Vice President, Community Impact
      Viridian Architectural Design, Inc. 
    • Jasmine Bejar, Vice President, Communications
      One Lucky Guitar
    • Britny Berndt, Vice President, Social Programming
      Keystone Graphics
    • Chris Reeve, Vice President, Fund Development
      ProFed Federal Credit Union
    • Chris Polhamus, Director at Large, Technology
      JH Specialty, Inc.
    • Tim Zink, Director at Large, Living Fort Wayne 
      Purdue University Fort Wayne
    • Kelly Rentschler, Director at Large, Fund Development
      American Electric Power
    • Rena Burden, Director at Large, Leadership Development 
      Turnstone
    • Brandon Noll, Director at Large, Community Impact
      Reusser Design
    • Katie Robinson, Director at Large, Communications
      Fort Wayne Airport

    The board's day-to-day activities include a variety of tasks, such as event planning, securing funding, and serving as advocates for the emerging professional demographic in our region. 

    "I am excited to lead this board of passionate and dedicated emerging leaders who are committed to making Northeast Indiana a better place,” Robinson said. “We're excited to continue to strengthen this organization to positively impact our community.”

    Established in 2005, YLNI is a group of dynamic emerging leaders that aims to engage the community and make a positive impact in Fort Wayne and the surrounding area. The mission of the 2,500-plus person network is to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders through community, professional and social engagement.


  • 09 Jul 2018 8:00 AM | Jasmine Bejar


    Join YLNI for View from the Top with teds market owner Brian Hench on Wednesday, July 25! YLNI Board Member Rena Burden will moderate.

    The event will take place at teds market from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Pizza and appetizers will be provided. Cost is $10 to attend.

    Get Tickets 

  • 06 Jun 2018 3:44 PM | John Felts


    YLNI is proud to present our premiere annual General Membership Event, where current members, potential members, and established community leaders are invited to come together to celebrate the growth of our community and the accomplishments of our organization in the past year!

    This year's celebration will take place on Thursday, June 21 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Three Rivers Distillery Company. This event will be the perfect opportunity for you to connect with our various committees, as well as enjoy tasty food from TRDC, Fort Wayne-inspired beverages, fun outdoor games, and live music from Will Certain. Admission is free, but register below to attend. 

    Register here 


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Email: info@ylni.org
P.O. Box 10774
Fort Wayne, IN  46853

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