2015 YLNI My City Summit



he 2015 event, “My City Summit: Cultivate Innovation, Community, Connection” was designed to create a city experience for attendees; an opportunity to participate in the evolving culture and economic sustainability that is critical to attracting and retaining young talent in Fort Wayne. The Summit goals were to drive awareness through engagement; to promote ownership, pride, and endorse diversity & inclusion in our community. Additionally, it was an opportunity to to recognize those whohave been drivers of evolution – committed to transformation and progressive social norms that move our community forward.

Due to the success of previous Summits, this year’s event was elongated to include more opportunities for our community to establish a greater understanding of the unique attributes of our evolving city and to create connections.

The 2015 My City Summit was a four-day event commencing on Wednesday, July 29. The Summit kicked off with a registration event and concert, highlighting the local talent of Fort Wayne Funk Orchestra and Trichotomous Hippopotamus. On Thursday, Summit attendees were encouraged to attend educational sessions held at various locations in the downtown Arts Campus. Each session featured inspirational, talented individuals committed to community development providing opportunities for attendees to connect and learn more about various areas of interest – entrepreneurship, marketing our city, building a better community, and creating a future rich with innovation and culture. A symposium on the afternoon of Friday, July 31 was held for all attendees, led by a speaker who reiterated the importance of engagement from the culmination of the ideas/awareness driven by the previous days' events.


The Summit tagline was inspired by a quote from Susan Mendenhall, President of Arts United.

“Fort Wayne’s story is uniquely ours. Fort Wayne can do more and be more if we embrace, reinforce and build on the current momentum of downtown development, social and entertainment options, and local creative businesses. Let’s make it a goal to leap beyond our placid Applebee’s culture and become active consumers of our own unique blend of arts, cultural and entertainment treasures. We are our city’s best champions.” – Susan Mendenhall, President, Arts United


Nancy Louraine, former CEO of Turnstone, was the recipient of the Ian Rolland Courageous Leader Award at the 2015 My City Summit. Her contributions to Fort Wayne and Allen County span across the realms of youth, education, human services, community development, and health.  Nancy has been an advocate for people with disabilities and a couple of the opportunities she has developed are the Community Transportation Network and constructing a facility that offers therapy, adaptive sports, and educational opportunities. Programs like these have enabled people with disabilities to live an active and thriving lifestyle that might not have been otherwise available to them.  Nancy’s biggest achievement was fulfilling her dream of building a National Paralympic training facility in our community and her dream came to fruition in the summer of 2015. Her influence on our community speaks about her character and willingness to help others live life to the fullest.  Nancy’s contributions are countless and through her selfless acts has been a role model for all young leaders to follow.






In November 2012, YLNI brought together more than 250 current and emerging leaders from across the region to discuss the Knight Foundation's Soul of the Community survey, their attachment to this community and to share their love of Fort Wayne. Many left with feelings of great pride and with a renewed ambition to make an impact.

On Thursday, April 10th, 2014, more than 200 established and emerging community leaders came together with a focus on openness and how to break down barriers and create connections to increase attachment and ultimately increase our economic outlook.  My City Summit: Connect & Thrive allowed participants to make new introductions and connections, discuss courageous leadership for social progress and explore how engagement and attachment impact economics and place.

YLNI honored Ian Rolland, former Chairman and CEO of Lincoln National Corporation, with the Courageous Leadership Award for his defining example of such leadership.  Although Rolland was a true leader in the insurance industry, it is for his dedication as a civil rights leader, championing issues of equality and education in Fort Wayne, that YLNI wanted to recognize through this award.  YLNI leadership later announced that future awards will be named in honor of Rolland. Presenting the Ian Rolland Courageous Leadership Award annually starting in 2015 to those who have followed in his footsteps.

YLNI has committed to awarding its own funds to be solely dedicated to the projects and ideas that are born from discussions at the My City Summit. (Download the report here) Attendees had the opportunity to submit ideas to bring the community together, build connections and improve attachment to the Fort Wayne area.   The My City Summit committee will select ideas for YLNI to champion.

This unique leadership summit was designed to bring people together: imagining, discussing and planning new ways to cultivate attachment in our community. The event explored our roles as leaders in building stronger connections in our city, addressing crime, economic development, diversity, and inclusion, in order to ensure a thriving community. 

During the My City Summit, Ellen Cutter and Zach Benedict presented The Power of Place: How Engagement, Happiness, and Attachment could shape the Midwestern City. In addition to the presentation, Cutter and Benedict prepared a white paper that can be viewed here. YLNI also had the video below produced and was played during their presentation. This video depicts several points of view for those living in the suburbs and going to the grocery store, or living downtown and going to a retail establishment. 


The Ian Rolland Courageous Leader Award will be presented annually to an individual who has made outstanding, sustained and unselfish broad-based contributions to community service in Northeast Indiana.

The Ian Rolland Courageous Leader Award recipient will be honored during the annual My City Summit.

Nominees and recipients represent courage and willingness to stand up to adversity, outstanding achievement and/or have made significant contributions in such areas of community service with youth, education, human services, community development, health or the environment.


“Having attending the My City Summit in 2012, I was excited to see another opportunity to gather, learn and update on progress. I appreciate YLNI’s role in the conversation of making this community a where we are all proud to call home. I’m excited to get creative and think boldly with Jake Greene and learn from local experts Ellen Cutter and Zach Benedict on the Power of Place. I hope others in the community attend and engage.”- Heather Schoegler, Director, Community Engagement, Parkview Health

"The first my city summit was the springboard for me to getting involved in the community. I'm excited for the 2nd My City Summit and the all star list of community leaders that will be there. I highly suggest attending this event if you want to be involved in the future of our community." - Adam Bouthot, Get Fresh Farms

"I thought it was important to attend My City Summit because I wanted to connect with and learn from others who share a vision of a more prosperous and vibrant Fort Wayne." - Angela Garcia, Attorney, Carson Boxberger, LLP