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

  • 15 Aug 2016 11:36 PM | Kara Hackett

    I never thought I would be a 25-year-old homeowner.

    To tell you the truth, I never wanted to be.

    I planned on renting for as long as possible, and then moving to an apartment downtown.

    I like the rush of living in the city center, and I keep myself busy most days, so I never wanted the added upkeep of a house.

    But when I was looking for my next place to live at the end of last year, I found the best deal on a small Cape Cod on the south side of downtown, and I decided to buy.

    Now that I have a house, I love my neighborhood with front porches and long winding sidewalks to walk my dog. My friends live only a few blocks away, so we can still walk to each other’s houses. I can even bike to work if I’m feeling really ambitious.

    If you ask me, that’s what makes living outside of downtown doable—and even preferable to cramming into a tiny apartment. It’s having a close-knit community, places you can go for food and coffee nearby and public spaces like parks in close proximity.

    Thanks to a new project coordinated by the Hoch Associates architectural firm, we might soon have more near downtown neighborhoods with all of these amenities and more.

    On Friday night, Hoch is unveiling its plans for what could be the first of many “20-minute neighborhoods” near downtown Fort Wayne.

    A 20-minute neighborhood is a place where residents can do all of their daily, non-work activities within a 20-minute walk or bike ride of their homes.

    Portland, Oregon, popularized the term a few years back when they published the Portland Plan around the idea of walkable, bikeable neighborhoods to reduce the need for cars and attract a new generation of homebuyers. 

    Now architects and interns at Hoch are trying to incorporate 20-minute plans into Fort Wayne’s 32 near downtown neighborhoods by providing leaders with actionable ideas to get started, one neighborhood at a time.

    Back in March, Hoch hosted a March Madness bracket-style contest on its Facebook page to determine which near downtown neighborhood could raise the most spirit among its residents, and the winner was awarded $15,000 in free design plans and consultations.

    The winning neighborhood was the Greater North Anthony area, which includes the North Anthony Area Association, Forest Park Boulevard Neighborhood Association and the North Anthony Corridor—home to popular attractions like the Firefly Coffee House, Sweets So Geek Confectionaries, Old Crown Coffee Roasters and the Wooden Nickel Records.

    This summer, a team of three Hoch interns, Ball State University seniors Michael DePrez. Georgia Pogas and Jenna Hoch, mapped out the North Anthony area’s 20-minute plan.

    They hopped on bikes and explored the area themselves, surveyed residents about what they wanted to see happen and convened meetings with neighborhood representatives and city planners.

    The final designs will be released at the big reveal on Friday night.

    Overall, the team says plans revolve around creating unified connections to downtown, beautifying storefronts, adding green spaces, slowing traffic and enhancing walkability.

    “We’re trying to get people to see the neighborhoods that are already there,” said Jenna Hoch.

    Beyond the trendiness of a Portland-inspired plan, there’s bigger reason why 20-minute neighborhoods work well in the areas around downtown.

    While the term itself might be new to this area, City Council President Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said the concept actually dates back to the way many of Fort Wayne’s near downtown neighborhoods were originally designed.

    Landscape architect George Kessler created a master plan in 1912 for the city’s neighborhoods, parks, and streets to function as interconnected, walkable areas that encouraged residents to mingle with each other and with nature. 

    Along with Lakeside Park in the North Anthony area, Kessler also designed the area around Rudisill Boulevard, which explains why my neighborhood on the south side has some of the same core features.

    Even so, Kessler’s designs have undergone other waves of development over the years as automobiles became the most popular form of transportation in the city.

    So Jehl is excited about the potential for Hoch’s concepts to return neighborhoods to their former, walkable glory with hopes for amenities like grocery stores on the horizon.

    Of course, the plans are only plans until residents raise money and work with city officials to make them happen. But the Hoch team said its designs are broken down into phases of development, so leaders can start with small improvements and build up to bigger goals over time.

    As the Greater North Anthony area takes shape, let’s hope the idea for 20-minute neighborhoods spreads to other areas around town, too.

    Northeast Indiana already has one of the most affordable housing markets in the nation, and studies show that while millennials like me are slower at buying homes than our parents’ generation, 9 out of 10 of us want to own a place of our own in a small, close-knit community. 

    Perhaps the key to attracting homebuyers of the future is rooted in our past. 

    See for Yourself
    What: Greater North Anthony Neighborhood Design and Quality of Life Reveal
    When: Friday, August 19, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
    Where: St. Joe Community Church at 2900 N Anthony Boulevard

    HereSay, in partnership with YLNI, is a frequent blog about our say on what’s happening here.  It is written by YLNI member Kara Hackett, and the opinions are her own. Photo by Matt Thomas.

  • 15 Aug 2016 10:18 PM | Joel Crandall

    Join your fellow YLNI Members for an "uncorked" night of wine, food and live music at Two EE's Winery!

    Live music will be performed by Soul35 while Bravas serves up some of your favorite food truck cuisine.

    This event is for active YLNI Members only + 1 guest.  

    Tickets cost $15 per person and include a voucher to either Two EE's or Bravas.

    We look forward to seeing you there! Register here:

  • 15 Aug 2016 10:07 PM | Joel Crandall

    Fifteen emerging leaders have been appointed to the Board of Directors of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI), including three first-year board members.

    YLNI Board President Stephanie Veit, Vice President Ryan Kruckeberg and Treasurer Grant Daily will continue their roles for another year, alongside new Secretary Savannah Robinson.

    The Board of Directors, which meets monthly, is the governing body of YLNI that will guide the organization to fulfill its goals.

    • Stephanie Veit, President (Three Rivers Federal Credit Union)
    • Ryan Krueckeberg, Vice President (Lincoln Financial Group)
    • Savannah Robinson, Secretary (Barnes & Thornburg LLP)
    • Grant Daily, Treasurer (Lake City Bank)
    • John Foxworthy, Director At Large, Executive Committee (Mahara Wealth Partners)
    • Pone Vongphachanh, Vice President, Community Impact (Upstate Alliance of Realtors)
    • John Felts, Vice President, Communications (Visit Fort Wayne)
    • Patrick Florea, Vice President, Fund Development (JH Specialty, Inc.)
    • Sarah Verpooten, Vice President, Social Programming (Strahm Building Solutions)
    • Justin Ramsey, Vice President, Leadership Development (Flint & Walling)
    • Leslie Snare, Director at Large, Living Fort Wayne (Broadridge Advisor Solutions)
    • Abigail Zimmer, Vice President of Membership (Creative Financial Staffing)
    • Vinod Vijayan, Director at Large, Community Impact (Eaton Corporation)
    • Mark Bains, Director at Large, Leadership Development (Barrett McNagny LLP)
    • Lindsey Best, Director at Large, Fund Development (Courtyard by Marriott Downtown)

    The board's day-to-day activities include a variety of tasks, such as planning and approving events, securing funding, and serving as advocates for the young professional demographic.

    "Our board has a terrific mix of experienced and relatively new YLNI members, all of whom share a common thread – love for this community,” said Stephanie Veit, YLNI President. "YLNI board members are all YLNI members who have shown exemplary dedication to carrying out our mission and are passionate about serving as a voice for the young professional demographic.”

    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 1,000-plus person network is to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders through community, professional and social engagement.

    To learn more about the YLNI, the organization's board and committees, or how you can become a member of YLNI, visit 

    (not pictured: Grant Daily, Justin Ramsey and Mark Bains) 

  • 01 Aug 2016 5:30 PM | Joel Crandall

    Join us for our next Hot Spot at The Golden on Thursday, August 18 from 5:30-7:30 PM. 

    Have you ever attended a YLNI Hot Spot? This social networking event offers a great opportunity for you to interact with several young professionals in a low-key, relaxed atmosphere. Whether you’re new to Fort Wayne or have lived in town for years, Hot Spots are always filled with individuals who are ready to help you make great connections with organizations and people around Fort Wayne.

    If you haven’t had the chance yet, this is the perfect time to check out The Golden, a new favorite dining and nightlife spot in downtown Fort Wayne. Invite you friends to join us and learn more about YLNI!

    RSVP on Facebook:¬if_id=1470079416572040

  • 01 Aug 2016 4:12 PM | Joel Crandall

    On Saturday, September 24th, 2016, come join us as we embark on the inaugural Fort Wayne Hop On Brew Tour!  Join us as we take a tour of some of Fort Wayne's best breweries.  Tickets are $35 for members and $40 for non-members.  Ticket purchase includes a T-shirt and transportation to and from all breweries!  

    All proceeds from the Hop On Brew Tour benefit Community Transport Network.  Funds raised will help more people in our community connect with healthcare, community events, schools, field trips, and more. 

    Community Transportation Network is a non-profit transportation company that empowers people of all ages and abilities to access the community. 
    Their mission is to provide dependable and efficient transportation so no one is left behind.  Check them out at!

    The Hop On Fort Wayne Brew Tour is a fun way to give back to your community, learn and meet greet people!  Click here for tickets!

  • 18 Jul 2016 7:00 AM | Joel Crandall

    We Must be Moved
    By Kara Hackett

    Earlier this month, the Riverworks Design Group unveiled its designs and plans for riverfront development.

    If you’ve been following riverfront progress for the last few years, then you know that it’s been a long time coming.

    We’ve seen sketches and elaborate renderings of what might be. We’ve attended public meetings, read articles and watched news reports. And now, we have an official blueprint, a brand and a plan.

    When it was revealed on July 7, I realized the power this project could have for our region in a new way.

    The rallying cry for Riverfront Fort Wayne is “Always Moving.”

    Our rivers are on the move. Our city is on the move. New restaurants and businesses are opening every month. A different festival is happening every week, and you can feel the rush.

    Facebook calendars are telling me I’m missing one event while I’m attending another. There’s so much to do.

    It’s the type of time when my mom tells me to slow down, or I’m going to get sick.

    But I like the fast pace, and if we want our region to keep going, keep attracting people, it feels like it’s good to keep busy and keep moving.

    But as I thought about the phrase Always Moving more, I realized it works on a deeper level, too — one that often gets overlooked in the rush of everything we’re trying to do.

    Sometimes, when we’re running around, going from place to place, it’s easy to forget about the bigger picture. It’s easy to be in the here and now, and the here and now is important. We’re a distracted, smart-phone generation, after all, so we need to be focused and present.

    But Always Moving reminds me that we need to take a step back to be moved by something, too. We need to be intentional. Driven. Inspired by a larger purpose.

    In my experience as a “young adult,” that seems to be the hardest part of the equation to achieve.

    It’s easy to keep going, keep yourself busy, but it’s much harder to identify what you’re moving toward. And if we keep moving at breakneck speed, we might end up somewhere we don’t want to be.

    This applies less to the brick-and-mortar part of riverfront development and more to the attitude we take going into this next chapter as a region and as individuals.

    We need to be moved by something. We need moments of rest and silence. Spaces to let the weight of life wash over us, and time to let the meaning sink in.

    Our rivers are where we come together. Where people of all ages, incomes, backgrounds and beliefs can be in the same place, and everyone feels at home.

    In one of our meetings about the riverfront’s brand, a member of the group described the rivers as a space like Central Park where you see all members of society. Where there’s always an open bench. Where people come together.

    In the world today, we need more of that. We see lives torn apart by racism, fear and hatred. Our rivers should be a place of peace where we come together on equal terms. A neutral ground where we stop hating, stop criticizing, stop pretending we have all the answers and just be moved.

    One of my favorite authors is Elie Wiesel. He died on July 2 at the age of 87 after living through the atrocities of the Holocaust, authoring more than 40 books and winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986.

    In his life, Wiesel witnessed the struggle of ethnic differences and the horror that people can inflict on each other in fear and hate. But he also witnessed hope.

    His writing is some of my favorite because it’s spiritually written. As a Hasidic Jew, Wiesel considered writing an act of faith, an act of reaching into the depths of himself where his voice could not reach and letting his spirit speak through his pen.

    But one of the things I think is especially cool about him is his appreciation for empty space.

    In his books, Wiesel said he believed in the importance of white space as much as the importance of words—the importance of nothing as much as the importance of something.

    In a documentary with PBS called “First Person Singular,” he said silence tells stories.

    “Silence in Jerusalem is something very special. It is unique. That silence itself becomes like a book. You can read it. You almost can hear the pages turning in that silence.”

    When I think about Always Moving, I feel the power of silence, and I realize it’s not always the rush that moves us; sometimes it’s the empty spaces that allow us to just be.

    As we watched the plans for the riverfront development unfold, we saw a lot of empty spaces. Places where you can sit and contemplate life. “Watch the world go by” was the term architects at Design Collaborative kept using.

    My hope is that as we seek silence, as we watch the world, we will be moved.

    Looking to the future of our city, our region, our country, it’s easy to see what we want. It’s easy to pursue personal goals for personal reasons. To see this city as our city. This river as our river. This country as our country. This life as our life. And to some extent, ownership is good and natural.

    But as we keep moving forward, we must move together. We must allow the triumphs and tragedies we experience to change us. We must think back on those who have gone before us and remember the lessons of history, or the witnesses in our lives and in our world have gone to waste.

    In busy, exciting times, it’s easy to forget. But we must remember.

    We are moving, and we must be moved.

    “First Person Singular”

    HereSay, in partnership with YLNI, is a bi-weekly blog about our say on what’s happening here.  It is written by YLNI member Kara Hackett, and the opinions are her own. Photo by Matt Thomas.

  • 23 Jun 2016 9:09 AM | Joel Crandall

    The wildly popular YNLI Living Fort Wayne Film Series is back for a third year this summer!  On the last Saturday of each month now through September, you can enjoy a free movie while sitting under the stars in beautiful downtown Fort Wayne.  Films will be showing at a variety of locations and each event will offer kid-friendly activities and food for purchase prior to the film.  The films were chosen by community voting in April, and the schedule and location for each event is as follows:

     “A League of Their Own” June 25, 2016 at the PNC parking lot

    • 120 W. Berry  Street – Bring your lawn chairs, folding chairs, inflatable couches, or other comfortable blacktop/parking lot seating!
    •  7:00 p.m. Activities and music begin, food available to purchase
    •  Film begins at dusk (approximately 9:15 p.m.)
    • Join us after BuskerFest and enjoy the film!

    “The Never Ending Story” July 30, 2016 at Wells Street Bridge

    • N. Wells Street
    • 7 p.m. Activities and music begins, food available to purchase
    • Film begins at dusk

     “It Happened One Night” August 26, 2016 at Taste of the Arts (downtown)

    • Arts United Campus – 303 E. Main St.
    • This film will be presented on Friday night in conjunction with Taste of the Arts
    • Film begins at dusk

    “The Book of Life” September 24 at Downtown Library Plaza

    • 900 Library Plaza
    • 7 p.m. Activities and music begins, food available to purchase
    • Film begins at dusk

    For additional information check out or follow Living Fort Wayne Film Series on Twitter and Facebook at @LFWFilmSeries for the latest information leading up to each event!

    The Living Fort Wayne Film Series was an idea that developed from the 2014 My City Summit. After the Summit, a group of volunteers came together who were passionate about creating a free film series that not only offered free entertainment for all ages, but also introduced individuals to different areas of Fort Wayne that they may not have visited otherwise.  The excitement and support for this series has grown tremendously, and we’re so excited that we were able to bring it back for a third year!

  • 17 Jun 2016 8:56 AM | Joel Crandall

    The 2016 Riverpalooza Dragon Boat Race is here and Team YLNI is back and determined to be this year's champions!  This June 25th, teams will compete to row 46' long dragon boats down the St. Mary's river in order to be crowned winners of this year's Dragon Boat Race.  The race is for a good cause with donations going to local, non-profit organizations.  Time is short and we can't do it without you, so join today and help take Team YLNI to the finish!  Also, be sure to check out our video from last year's race.  

    When:  Sat, June 25th 2016, starting at 8am

    There will be about 30 boat teams. On race day morning, each boat (3 at a time) will race starting from Headwaters Park West to the Wells Street bridge, about 300 meters.  In the afternoon, the boats will race again based on their times from the morning sprints. The winners will be announced by 4:00pm.

    Who Can Enter:  Anyone can do it, regardless of your level of fitness.  There will be 21 people per boat team (20 paddlers + 1 drummer).

    Each team member needs to raise or donate a minimum of $50 in pledges which goes towards the team entry fee of $2100 (YLNI is sponsoring the other 50%).  All team members, as individuals or as a team, MUST attend one 90 minute practice session on a weekday evening before the race in order to be eligible to compete Saturday.  Equipment will be provided.  

    How to Join the Team:

    1. Email Vinod Vijayan at  A group conference call or in-person meeting will be scheduled to answer any questions and to confirm plans.
    2. If you are unable to participate in the race but would still like to support and donate to the team, benefiting local charities, then please do so at the following link:
    3. If you know someone who would be interested, please pass the message.

    For More Information:

    Questions?  Email Vinod Vijayan at

  • 14 Jun 2016 8:58 AM | Joel Crandall

    Evergreen Leadership is accepting nominations for the first annual Community Builders Award.  The Community Builders Award recognizes and connects emerging leaders between the ages of 25 and 40 across the state of Indiana who are actively working to improve their leadership and the communities they live in.

    If you know someone in your community who you’d like to sponsor, nominate them now!  Nominations will be accepted until June 24th, 2016, and award winners will be notified by July 4th.

  • 14 Jun 2016 8:40 AM | Joel Crandall

    Do you want to have a positive and meaningful impact this summer and meet amazing people in the process?  Then here's your opportunity!  Turnstone, a local non-profit that empowers people with disabilities, is looking for volunteers to help out with many of the events happening at the Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone.  Sign-up is easy, just click here.  Here are some of the great events you can help with:

    • Restoring the Fieldhouse (June 16th-17th)
    • National Power Soccer Tournament (June 17th-21st)
    • US Goalball National Championships (June 23rd-25th)
    • Parkview Basketball Tournament (July 2nd-3rd)

    Also, be sure to check out Turnstone's many other volunteering opportunities.

    For More Information:

P.O. Box 10774
Fort Wayne, IN  46853

Connect With Us

Member Login