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

  • 27 Feb 2017 4:52 PM | Joel Crandall

    Are you a passionate and upbeat member of Northeast Indiana looking for a volunteer opportunity?  If so, Living Fort Wayne has several volunteer opportunities with our committee.  

    Blog Writer: Living Fort Wayne is seeking a savvy wordsmith to join our blogging team.  Interested parties need to have a sincere love for the city of Fort Wayne and be ready to highlight many of the great things going on around town.  Experience or passion for writing preferred, but not required. Passion for Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana is a must.   

    Committee Chair: As the committee chair, you will be the leader of a team of Living Fort Wayne volunteers responsible for telling the world about the great things happening in our city.  You will be charged with helping to craft and implement the strategy of our blog and social media presence to further our mission of highlighting everything that is great about living, working and playing in Fort Wayne. If you’re looking for an opportunity to develop and highlight your leadership skills, then the committee chair role would be a great fit for you.

    Please contact if you are interested in learning more about these or other opportunities with our committee!

  • 13 Feb 2017 10:00 AM | Kara Hackett

    When I moved from my college in Upland, Indiana, to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, people thought I would have a hard time.

    “You’re going from the middle of nowhere to one of the biggest cities in the world,” they said.

    But honestly, the adjustment wasn’t all that bad.

    Although the cultures are drastically different, the feeling of living in Upland and New York is surprisingly similar because both places put in you in a “survival mode” of sorts. 

    In the one-stoplight town of Upland, it’s like going away to summer camp. All you have is the people around you, and you’re all in it together.

    In New York, you’re literally living on top of people, and almost everyone is a transplant, so you’re all in it together.

    There’s a powerful sense of unity in both places, and oddly enough, that unity is the result of inconvenience. When you don’t have everything you need, it makes you feel connected to people around you in a way that you don’t always feel when you’re comfortable and satisfied.

    You struggle together, and that struggle builds character.

    In Fort Wayne, we talk about character a lot—about identity and who we are as a city or a region. We say it’s not the buildings; it’s the people that make this place great, and I think that’s very true.

    But sometimes I wonder if we have enough space and discomfort here to build the character we want—the unmanufactured character that doesn’t come with a tagline, a marketing scheme or a picture-perfect image all the time.

    Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the place-making and quality of life work that is being done, and as a marketing professional, I understand the importance of developing a good brand for the city.

    But when I think about Fort Wayne compared to other places that I’ve lived, it isn’t the brand or the amenities or the conveniences that I miss—it’s the inconvenience of being needed and needing to rely on other people in return.

    I get it in small doses here, when my neighbors ask to borrow something, or when we come together as a block to cheer on the Fort4Fitness runners once a year. I feel it in the new businesses opening up, or the late-night shows of local bands I want to support.

    But that feeling of unity isn’t here on a day-in and day-out basis yet. We aren't so big that need to rely on public transportation, or so small that if a few of us go missing, everyone will notice.

    We can mostly get by on our own here, in small circles of friends and families, and as someone who craves community, that’s so discomforting to me. I think that's what has always drawn me to downtown.

    It comes from the uncomfortable, the inconvenient, and all of the other undesirable attributes that make us look at a place and wonder, “Why would anyone want to live there?”

    When you ask people why they like living or working or just being downtown, they’ll usually say something about community spirit.

    But in my experience, it’s a different type of spirit than the one you read about on downtown development brochures.

    It’s not about everything we have, or everything we’re going to get; it’s about what we lack, and how that make us stronger somehow.

    We talk about how downtown needs a grocery store, and how a few more parking spaces would be nice, and to be fair, these creature comforts would probably do a lot for our developing city.

    But as we grow, as we brand things and decide who we want to be, I think it’s important to remember that connectedness doesn't come out of abundance and provision—having a comfortable life padded with everything we want. It comes from the common struggle, the mutual discomfort, the proverbial cups of sugar we need to borrow from our neighbor that force us to leave our house and depend on someone else.

    As much as we want to fight it, as much as we want to sweep it under the tidy welcome mat of the city’s front door, maybe the things we struggle with are the things that give us character.

    Personally, I am thankful for the inconvenience.

    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.

  • 09 Feb 2017 7:00 AM | Joel Crandall

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana is now accepting applications for its 2017-18 Board of Directors. 

    The Board of Directors is the governing body of YLNI. Their big-picture approach is to guide the organization to fulfill our mission. The day-to-day happenings include approving activities, securing funding, being advocates for our demographic, and generally trying to figure out what we’re doing. The board meets formally once a month and all members welcome your input. 

    Board members are asked to serve two-year terms and no more than six years. New board members are selected from a nominating committee made up of active YLNI volunteers and members. New applicants have through March 17 to apply.

    Apply here  

  • 07 Feb 2017 5:00 PM | Joel Crandall

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) is now accepting vendor and musician applications for the 2017 YLNI Farmer’s Market season.

    YLNI is again partnering with the History Center to bring local commerce to downtown Fort Wayne each weekend. The YLNI Farmer’s Market is a signature initiative for YLNI and brings an average of 1,800 people downtown each Saturday morning from May through September.

    The YLNI Farmer’s Market on Barr Street features a wide array of local vendors. Everything from locally grown produce and handmade baked goods, to ceramics, artisan soaps, and candles are sold. YLNI also books local musicians to provide entertainment for market patrons.  Look for exciting events happening at the market by liking the market on

    The YLNI Farmer’s Market is hosted in the footprint of the historic Fort Wayne Barr Street Market, at the corner of Barr and Wayne Streets, which is owned by the History Center. The market will run from 9am to 1pm each Saturday from May 20 to September 9 and during those hours the History Center offers free admission to museum visitors.

    If interested in becoming a 2017 YLNI Farmer’s Market vendor or musician, please go to to complete an online application; or attend a vendor meeting on Thursday, March 2 at 6:00 p.m. at the History Center, 302 East Berry Street.

    For additional details visit or email specific questions to

  • 07 Feb 2017 9:29 AM | Anonymous

    With Valentine’s Day fast approaching it seemed only appropriate to share with you my love letter to the great city of Fort Wayne to express what I believe are some of the best parts about living in the Summit City.

    Dear Fort Wayne,

    Your small town charm, yet big city conveniences are the perfect blend for many people in the Midwest who are small town at heart, but crave the big city dream. You are the Indiana underdog. Most of my Ohio friends don’t understand why I enjoy living in a state so populated by corn, but I tell them that they just don’t know the real Fort Wayne. Additionally, there is no greater joy than hitting all the green lights going through downtown. This experience somehow always feels like a huge victory with the Fort Wayne light gods smiling down upon me.

    Fort Wayne, your supply of unique dining experiences seems without number, especially, the seemingly endless supply of delicious Mexican food. Finally, your inhabitants are a proud people who are investing in your beauty and economy. It is very exciting to live in a place where people believe in gracing this city with donut ice-cream sandwiches and riverfront development. Fort Wayne, you have truly won my heart.

    With love,

    Lauren Brune

    This blog post is written by Lauren Brune. Lauren is a Fort Wayne transplant from Tipp City, Ohio. She moved here in 2015 after graduating from Ohio Northern University where she studied communications and public relations. She works at LEARN Resource Center in New Haven as the Communications and Special Events Coordinator.
  • 23 Jan 2017 7:15 AM | Joel Crandall

    Tickets for the 13th annual YLNI Masquerade Ball on Sat., Feb. 25 at the Embassy Theatre Ballroom are now on sale!

    This black tie party is an opportunity for our community to get dressed up and hit the town in style.  Tickets are $55 for members, $60 for non-members, and $100 for two tickets. Purchase your tickets here.  

  • 23 Jan 2017 7:00 AM | Joel Crandall

    Please take a few moments to complete a brief survey to share your thoughts and opinions on YLNI's annual programming and events. 

    Your feedback will provide valuable insight to YLNI on how we can best continue to serve our membership now and in the future. 

    Everyone who fills out the survey will be entered to win a $50 gift card to The Golden

    Take survey:…

  • 20 Jan 2017 5:09 PM | John Felts


    On Tuesday, January 24, Fort Wayne City Council will vote to approve or reject a loan request from the Legacy Fund for the revitalization of The Landing in downtown Fort Wayne. This important decision could have a lasting impact on downtown. 

    Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI) and its membership support The Landing Development in downtown Fort Wayne, as we believe The Landing is vital to our community’s growth and continued momentum. Redevelopment of The Landing through private retail and commercial development could bring revitalized economic activity and new employment to downtown Fort Wayne. This unique combination aligns with YLNI’s mission in attracting, developing, and retaining emerging leaders.

    Before Tuesday's vote, YLNI is asking members to contact the nine members of City Council and urge them to vote "Yes" for a Legacy Fund loan that has been requested by The Model Group, the chosen developer of the project. 

    Jason Arp:
    Michael Barranda:
    Dr. John Crawford:
    Tom Didier:
    Paul Ensley:
    Tom Freistroffer:
    Glynn Hines:
    Russ Jehl:
    Geoff Paddock:

    If you are not planning to attend the 2017 My City Summit on Tuesday, we encourage you to attend the City Council meeting to show your support at 5:30 p.m. in Room 30, Garden Level of Citizens Square Building.

    This is your opportunity to make your voice be heard on the future of downtown Fort Wayne.

  • 16 Jan 2017 3:54 PM | Kara Hackett

    The last thing I want to talk about right now is politics.

    To be honest, I just want to be done with it. Check out, hibernate for awhile, and then come back when things settle down and I can deal with it again.

    That sounds great. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

    Like it or not, things keep happening, decisions keep being made, whether I’m part of them or not, and the constancy of it all can be exhausting.

    In the heat of the presidential election, I remember a radio program where the host spent most of the hour trying to convince first-time voters that they shouldn’t give up on politics forever after this year.

    “It’s not always this bad,” he said. “Keep engaging, and keep caring. We need you to keep caring.”

    Whenever I think about avoiding politics for awhile, I try to remember his words. Countries need people of all types to be listening, asking questions and considering the greater good.

    Communities need people like that, too—people who are civically engaged.

    But what troubles me about civic engagement is that it seems like such an angry experience where the squeaky wheel gets the oil. It's like the louder you complain, the more nasty comments you post on social media, the more likely someone is going to listen to you, and what should be civic engagement turns into a shouting match.

    It’s rare that people get involved with politics when they simply have something positive to say. But if you think about it, why not?

    Research shows that our minds discover more creative solutions when we're thinking positively as opposed when we're thinking negatively.

    So it makes sense to be more positive about the way we approach politics, too, and if we do, we might come up with better solutions.

    As of today, that's what HereSay is going to be about.

    Up to this point, we've brought you stories about news and ideas around town, and we’re still going to do that. But we’re expanding our mission to help you be more engaged locally in a positive—or at least, constructive—way.

    If you’re like us, you’ve probably been enjoying the new developments around town, or maybe you’ve had conversations with friends about how to make things better. That’s great.

    But let’s face it, the process of writing letters to your local representatives seems a little cumbersome and outdated, especially if you just want to say, “Hey, that idea for apartments on The Landing seems cool.”

    So we’d like to be your middlemen (or middlewomen), so to speak.

    If you want to share an idea, a constructive criticism or a even a simple word of support with your local representatives, and you don’t want to do the dirty work of tracking them down yourselves, send us your thoughts, and we’ll pass them along for you.

    YLNI has connections in our community, and we can get your ideas to the people who can use them to make a difference.

    Find HereSay Post on Facebook, or tag @HereSayPo on Instagram. You can DM us or email, too, if you prefer. Whatever works.

    There’s no time limit on this, so just keep us in mind as you go about your routines. Then when you have something to say, speak up.

    As tempting as it can be to stay out of politics altogether, it’s important to remember that not doing anything is choosing to do something, too.

    Northeast Indiana is growing and changing, and we need more upbeat voices in the conversation.


    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.

    Save Save
  • 13 Jan 2017 1:56 PM | Joel Crandall

    This month,, a personal finance company, released their annual study "Where Are Millennials Buying Homes?"  The study looks at 200 cities and compares the home ownership rates among households where the head of the household was less than 35 years old.  This year Fort Wayne ranked number 7 and has the most affordable homes in the top 10.  Congratulations Fort Wayne and keep up the good work!  

    Check out the full report here

P.O. Box 10774
Fort Wayne, IN  46853

Connect With Us

Member Login