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

  • 07 Mar 2018 8:05 AM | John Felts

    YLNI is now accepting applications for its 2018-2019 Board of Directors.

    Board members are asked to serve a two-year term. New board members are selected from a nominating committee made up of active YLNI volunteers and board members who work together to choose the best possible candidates to continue YLNI's mission. Applications will be accepted until Friday, March 16.

    Apply here
  • 05 Mar 2018 8:00 AM | John Felts

    Do you have an idea that can help transform and improve Northeast Indiana for years to come?

    Thanks to the success of “Big Ideas” from the 2015 My City Summit, YLNI is seeking a new BIG idea for 2018! We are looking for innovative and creative projects that will positively impact the lives of residents in our community.

    The idea can be anything. What is something Northeast Indiana desires? Is there something we are missing out on? The idea should align with YLNI’s mission to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders through community, professional, and social engagement

    For more than a decade, YLNI and its passionate network of volunteers have turned several ideas into successful endeavors, notably the YLNI Farmers Market, YLNI the Vote, Living Fort Wayne Concert Series, Living Fort Wayne Movie Series, Get on Board, Weather the Fort, and more.

    Those interested in submitting ideas have until Friday, March 23 and can send them to

  • 26 Feb 2018 3:56 PM | John Felts

    The Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) Board of Directors have voted in support of the proposal for local funding toward the Electric Works project. 

    Fort Wayne is experiencing unprecedented momentum, created by ten years of investment and revitalization downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods. YLNI supports the efforts to revitalize the former General Electric campus that will create an innovation district where people can live, work, play, and learn.

    Recently, YLNI conducted an online survey with its network to gather perspective on the Electric Works project. From 194 respondents, 191 (99%) supported redevelopment of the campus; and 60% supported $65 million in local government investment. Several respondents cited various types of quality of life amenities for the campus, including restaurants, entertainment, housing, grocery market, and retail.

    "Our board of directors and members have made their voices heard and supported the redevelopment of Electric Works," said YLNI Board President Ryan Krueckeberg. "The project would enhance the vibrancy of our city and our region, which would help attract and retain young professionals. This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment that will positively impact the future of our community."

    As a group of emerging leaders invested in the future of Northeast Indiana, quality of life improvements are at the forefront of making our city, and our region, a place full of opportunities for economic, social and cultural growth. With a finger on the pulse of the community, YLNI’s membership is comprised of individuals who are engaging in the community head-on, making a positive impact on the places in which our members live, work, and play. YLNI has continuously supported initiatives that increase the vibrancy and quality of place in our community.  

    On Monday, YLNI sent a letter to members of Fort Wayne City Council, urging council to approve the funding request for the Electric Works project.

  • 22 Feb 2018 11:20 AM | John Felts

    Are you interested in improving your speaking and leadership skills?

    Toastmasters is an internationally recognized organization with a proven curriculum that focuses on the development of presentation and leadership competencies. YLNI is looking to gauge whether there are enough emerging leaders interested in forming a Toastmasters Club.

    At least 20 interested people are needed in order to establish a club. We’ve heard from some of you, but still need a few more to hit the 20 mark. If you’re interested and would like to learn more, please contact Leslie Snare at or Savannah Robinson at

    We’d love for you to join us to hear more about Toastmasters at Savannah’s office (Barnes & Thornburg LLP; 6th floor of the Ash Building) on March 13 at 5:30 p.m.

  • 13 Feb 2018 9:13 AM | John Felts

    The Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) Farmers Market will return to downtown Fort Wayne each Saturday from May 19 through September 29. Applications for interested vendors and musicians will be available on February 19.

    For a fourteenth 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. Nearly 2,500 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 Allen County or surrounding counties.  
    To enhance the overall experience for market patrons, additional street closures, more children’s activities, and entertainment options will be offered this year. Local food trucks will be on-site for hungry visitors, as well.

    If you’re interested in becoming a vendor or musician this summer, please visit to complete an online application; or attend a vendor meeting on Monday, February 19 at 6:00 PM at the History Center, 302 East Berry Street.

    For more information, please visit or email specific questions to

  • 12 Feb 2018 12:43 PM | John Felts

    (Official news release from the Fort Wayne Public Market)

    Fort Wayne, Ind. (February 12, 2017) – The Fort Wayne Public Market (FWPM) is excited to formally announce its formation and intention to become a tenant at Electric Works. The organization discussed its plans today at a public event in the former GE Club, where it also announced it has signed a letter of intent with RTM Ventures, the joint venture leading the development at Electric Works.

    The Fort Wayne Public Market is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that grew out of collaboration between Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI), Fort Wayne’s Farmers Market, and the City of Fort Wayne’s Public Market Taskforce. The primary goal of the FWPM is to implement and operate a year-round, permanent, indoor-outdoor public market in downtown Fort Wayne.

    The FWPM board of directors have been meeting regularly since May 2017. In September 2018, the FWPM plans to assume administration and management of both the Fort Wayne Farmers Market and the YLNI Market. The two existing markets currently operate on Saturdays during the summer, on the southeast and northeast corners of Wayne and Barr streets, respectively. By joining forces under the governance of the Fort Wayne Public Market, both downtown markets will expand their capabilities to better serve the Northeast Indiana community.

    “The overwhelming success of the current Saturday markets has shown that Fort Wayne is ready for something bigger,” says Jered Blanchard, President of the Fort Wayne Public Market board. “By moving into a permanent location at Electric Works, we hope to create an exciting and unique destination for regional residents. With this move, the engaging, friendly culture of the farmers market can be experienced all week long, in any weather. It also lets us provide many more opportunities for local farmers, vendors and entrepreneurs.”

    The FWPM board chose Electric Works because it was centrally located, easily accessible and could be built to accommodate a wide variety of needs. It also offers flexibility as the market grows and increases food access downtown.

    “Great cities have great public markets. We welcome the Fort Wayne Public Market to Electric Works, as an important part of creating a thriving and vibrant district in the heart of the city,” says Jeff Kingsbury of the development team.“Partnering with committed community organizations like Fort Wayne Public Market, Electric Works can help address community health as a key to Fort Wayne’s continued revitalization—and this is an important step toward that vision.”

    The two existing downtown markets will continue to operate independently until September 2018. Until construction is complete on the Electric Works campus, the Fort Wayne Public Market will remain on Barr Street during the summer.

  • 08 Feb 2018 8:45 PM | Jasmine Bejar

    Do you consider yourself lucky to live in northeast Indiana? 

    I almost ended up a nurse, in somewhere like Indianapolis or Chicago. But instead, here I am, in Fort Wayne, living my best creative life. 

    And what's lucky about that? 

    Everything in my deck said this wasn't a hand I was going to play. (But that story isn't what this is really about.)

    I could be anywhere in the country, but here I am in Fort Wayne, fully engulfed in a community with so much grit, so much prowess, so much...sheer willingness. I mean—what more could I ask for? A community that is willing to grow, willing to work hard, willing to give me a chance to make a difference. 

    That's lucky, because, it's not guaranteed everywhere, but Fort Wayne took a chance on me. 

    As a region, we're knee-deep in taking chances right now. From start-ups to developments, there seems to be change around every corner. 

    I'm grateful to live in a community where entrepreneurship prospers. Small businesses can flourish here. Individuals are willing to risk in pursuit of their dreams—and that's an energy I find myself inspired by on a daily basis.

    I'm also aware of and thankful for the not-so-small businesses that choose to call Fort Wayne home. Those who provide us and our families with jobs, and their leaders who go above and beyond and invest their time, talent in treasure back into our community. 

    I feel honored to witness and have a voice in so many progressive, downtown development initiatives. I feel Riverfront Development's synergy already, barely into Phase I. I can't wait to see how Electric Works develops, what it becomes, who it attracts. I believe Arts Campus Fort Wayne brings collective focus to our ambitious arts aspirations. The energy from these (and more) is contagious; I feel it on a personal level.

    All of these ventures elevate northeast Indiana regionally and nationally. We all are risking, together, to make this a reality. 

    Once you're in the flux of change, like any growing community, it can be easy to fall into the trap of suspicion. But I hope we never falter to accusation and resentment. I hope we never pigeonhole ourselves by rejecting others. 

    I've been fortunate enough to have some truly inspirational mentors in my life, who've taught me that our greatest assets are each other. 

    Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne and my former colleague, inspires me every time I hear her talk about the Arts Campus. My favorite pitch she gives? Historically, we've worried about our slice of the pie—when it comes to ticket sales, attendance, money and the like. Today, we're locking arms, and building a better bakery. Because we're stronger when we build an ecosystem where everyone thrives. 

    John Felts, who was my former coworker at Visit Fort Wayne and is the VP of Communications for the YLNI board of directors, lives by the saying "Work hard and be kind to people." I mean, this goes without explaining, right? Human capital is our greatest capital. 

    From a marketing perspective, every touch point we as businesses, events, places and even individuals builds the story of our community.  To borrow from another person whom I highly regard—my friend and colleague, Matt Kelley—how do we put our Best Fort Forward as we go out and tell the story of our community, in light of understanding how we are influencing our brand?

    Today, and every day moving forward, I hope we never forget that our ecosystem thrives when we all take a step back from our confusion, resistance and judgement, and know that we're always better, together. In the market of pride-inducing, awe-inspiring ideas, people, places and businesses, we're competing with our peer cities, not with ourselves. Let's build our story to be one where we challenge each other productively, build understanding in highest regard and continue to walk this path of change, hand in hand.  


    Written by Jasmine Bejar, all opinions are her own. 

  • 07 Feb 2018 6:43 PM | Jasmine Bejar

    As you might remember from our recent posts with Justin Hayes and Ryan Dollens, we're talking to our members, finding out their motivators for being an active YLNI member. 

    In this blog, we're getting to know A.J. Stites, Agent at First Insurance Group. 

    What is your involvement with YLNI?

    I am the Chair of the View From the Top Committee and will be a participant in the 2018 Leadership Institute Class. I have been a member of YLNI for just over a year now. 

    Why did you decide to join YLNI? 

    I decided to join YLNI in order to make more professional connections in the community while finding ways to be more involved in the continued growth and success of Fort Wayne. 

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

    I hope to become an influential member of the community and help Fort Wayne become a destination for businesses and individuals. By being a member of YLNI, I am able to stay up to date with developments in our community and be an active part in continuing our region's progress and success. In addition to this, I hope to continue to make connections with young professionals who will be involved in our business community for years to come. 

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

    YLNI's recent inclusivity pledge is a great example of why I am proud to be a young leader of northeast Indiana. This organization is giving a voice to the young professionals of our region while showing what it will take to be successful in business in Fort Wayne. 

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

    I would take someone downtown to eat or grab coffee. Our downtown revitalization has been an important component of northeast Indiana's growth and the new restaurants and local favorites would provide a unique taste of Fort Wayne. The Hoppy Gnome would be a great place to start!

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


     Written by Jasmine Bejar, YLNI Communications Committee Member

  • 01 Feb 2018 4:29 PM | John Felts

    Major steps have been taken over the last few months to begin the redevelopment of two significant properties in our community: North River Property and Electric Works (former GE Campus).

    Each of these projects have the opportunity to directly align with YLNI's mission to attract, develop, and retain emerging leaders within our community. Whether you are a member, a volunteer, a friend of the organization, or local resident, YLNI is making sure that your voice is heard.

    There are available resources for each area of the survey that you may wish to review and are listed here, as well as within the survey.

    The following resources could be useful when reviewing the questions on
    North River:

    North River Now Study 
    Headwaters Junction 
    STEAM Park

    The following resources could be useful when reviewing the questions on
    Electric Works:

    Development Website 
    Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Information 
    Project Presentation to City Council 

    Take Survey

  • 01 Feb 2018 4:18 PM | John Felts

    Join us for our monthly Hot Spot at the Dash-In on February 15!

    You'll have the opportunity to network, exchange ideas, and share interests with your peers in a casual, laid back environment. Bring a friend or co-worker to join you!

    RSVP on Facebook 

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Fort Wayne, IN  46853

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