Professional Lunch

Create a Personal Relationship With a Community Leader

The Power Lunch series takes place once a month from July through October. Four groups of five YLNI members have the unique opportunity to meet with one community leader for lunch. This personal interaction provides community leaders with an opportunity to candidly share experiences, while YLNI members are able to ask questions. By meeting with the same group for four months, each group has an opportunity to build lasting relationships with the leaders in the community. 

Submit your Application today!

"As a former participant in the power lunch program, I highly recommend this to anyone interested! This format is great for the emerging leaders to learn from and build new relationships that they may not have a chance otherwise. These programs also seem to benefit community leaders and provide a chance to engage with a younger demographic and share helpful insights. We found that organic relationships formed well after the lunch series ended, and we continue to stay in touch today."

- Former Power Lunch Participant, 2015



Melissa Dessaigne
Executive Director, Mad Anthonys Children’s Hope House

Melissa joined Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House as their Executive Director in March 2019 after 2 1/2 years as Executive Director at The Summit where she oversaw the campus development and collaboration among more than 20 non-profit organizations. Prior to moving to Fort Wayne in 2015, Melissa lived with her family for ten years in London, England, where she was the co-founder and director of a non-profit organization that provided teacher training in Uganda and India. She also worked as an HR policy analyst for Brookfield Relocation in Phoenix, Arizona, London and Paris.

Melissa received her master’s degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics, and her Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Bowling Green State University. She is fluent in both French and Spanish.


Leslie Friedel
CEO, Visiting Nurse

Leslie joined Visiting Nurse as their Chief Executive Officer in August, 2018. A northeast Indiana native, Leslie has extensive experience in healthcare, and holds a master’s degree in Social Work from Indiana University. Before Visiting Nurse, she worked at Lutheran Life Villages, where she served in several capacities, most recently as the Vice President of Research and Service Development. A licensed health facility administrator, Friedel is a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt and a licensed social worker. She has also served as a field liaison for Indiana University’s master’s level social work students as they complete practicums in local agencies since 2013. Friedel was also honored as one of Fort Wayne’s “Forty Under 40” in 2018.


Jim Wilcox
Partner, Wilcox & Associates

A long-time resident of Indiana, Jim has spent the last 20 years in successful business development and management roles. In 2014, Jim opened Wilcox & Associates, LLC – an authorized Sandler Training Center.

Wilcox & Associates uses the Sandler Training systematic process to help individuals and businesses increase their top-line revenue. Jim’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University, combined with his knowledge of the local market place and extensive experience as a top sales performer and manager, allows him to confidently train and coach business professionals, leading their companies to financial success.


Curtis Smith
Director of Community Outreach, Parkview Health

Curtis joined Parkview in the Spring of 2018 as the Director of Community Outreach. Before Parkview, Curtis was known to thousands of viewers in the Fort Wayne area as the Chief Meteorologist at 21Alive, a position he held from October 1995 to April 2016.


Tabitha Ervin
Executive Director at the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA

Tabitha Ervin is the wife of Robert Ervin and proud mother to 6-year-old daughter Jordan.

Professionally, she is the Executive Director at the Jackson R. Lehman Family YMCA and has served in various roles at 5 branches within the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne in her 13-year career with the Y thus far.  She enjoys working with people and influencing the lives of others! 

In addition to working for the YMCA, she has a specific passion for people and youth in the community which is why she volunteers her time with various organizations and serves on several boards in the community.

Tabitha has a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration/Community Development and a Master’s degree in Public Administration/Public Policy and Non Profit Sector as well as a Master’s degree in Human Services.

In her spare time, she enjoys, reading, relaxing, working out and traveling.