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

  • 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 

  • 30 Jan 2018 6:30 PM | Jasmine Bejar

    Have you ever been to an orchestra performance? I have to tell you, just three years ago, neither had I. It's intimidating, right? What am I supposed to wear? What if I don't get the music? What if I clap at the wrong time? Isn't it expensive?

    I promise you, whatever you're thinking, I'd been thinking it, too. There's a historic stigma it's carrying around. 

    Luckily, for us in Northeast Indiana, we've got our own Fort Wayne Philharmonic, that negates a lot of these concerns and stereotypes. The truth is, the Phil is catering to us now, and helping us connect the dots between the past and the present when it comes to this music. 

    Having a philharmonic in our community adds so much value to our lives, if we only give it a chance to. Like many other forms of art, it's a great way for us to connect, and have experiences together. 

    That's why the Fort Wayne Philharmonic is now presenting Music + Mixology, this Saturday, February 3 at 7:30 PM at the Embassy Theatre. It's an opportunity to gather and experience great music and drinks, together. This is about meeting like-minded, curious people, and maybe getting out of your comfort zone a little bit. (And did I mention, at an insanely reasonable price? Tickets are just $25 each for a drink and the show!)

    Here's how it works—you buy your ticket online or at the show. We gather together in the beginning to meet, take in a show together, and then stroll just down the street to grab a drink together. Easy. 

    So, I hope you'll join me in a new experience. I, myself, have never heard the upcoming performance, but I'm excited to see what it has to offer, and make some new friends along the way. 

    What: Music + Mixology with the Fort Wayne Phiharmonic, Scheherazade, a musical retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights
    When: Saturday, February 3, 7:30 PM
    Where: Performance at the Embassy Theatre, drinks at Wine Down
    Cost: $25


    Written by Jasmine Bejar, YLNI Communications Committee Member. Jasmine is also a Fort Wayne Philharmonic volunteer Music + Mixology Committee Member. All opinions are her own. 

  • 17 Jan 2018 8:00 AM | Jasmine Bejar

    A couple of weeks ago, my fellow YLNI member Sarah Dove introduced a new series: Why I Am YLNI

    She and I are going to tag-team this, together! We're talking to our members, finding out their motivators for being an active YLNI member.

    This week, we're continuing on with Ryan Dollens, Associate Broker at Imagine Real Estate, LLC! 

    What is your involvement with YLNI?

    I am the Chair of Living Fort Wayne. I help with meeting new recruits and getting them up and running. I also help some of the other members with the day to day operations.

    Why did you decide to join YLNI?

    I wanted become more involved with the Fort Wayne community and to help grow my network.

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

    I would like to grow and develop my leadership skills and to also help make Fort Wayne a better place.

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

    I think our community is great and YLNI is trying to make sure the young leaders have a voice and can help make the community even greater. I really enjoyed the leadership institute and I would highly recommend it to anyone consider attending.

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

    I would walk around downtown with them to see some of the local restaurants and other unique places. I would also convince them to see a Tin Caps, Mad Ants or Komets game, depending on the season.

    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

  • 16 Jan 2018 4:50 PM | John Felts

    The YLNI Board of Directors has closely followed the redevelopment process of the former General Electric campus in downtown Fort Wayne, now named Electric Works.  

    Based on prior member feedback, our board supported the initial efforts to find a developer for the campus. A developer has since been selected and is now working to bring the campus back to life. Last fall, YLNI representatives had the unique opportunity to tour Electric Works and ask questions about its future. 

    In the next few weeks, YLNI's CEA committee will issue a survey to our members to gather their thoughts and feelings on the project. YLNI encourages all emerging leaders in Northeast Indiana to learn more about the development plans, including visiting Electric Works website at

    Additionally, the Electric Works development team is scheduled to present its vision to Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday, January 30 at 5:30 p.m. We encourage you to attend the presentation and ask any questions that you might have. 

    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

    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 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 its 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 a difference within not only the organization, but within our community.

    What makes you most proud to be an emerging 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. 

P.O. Box 10774
Fort Wayne, IN  46853

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