Forty-Six Graduate from Leadership Fort Wayne Program

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Last week, a group of emerging leaders marked the end of one journey and the launch of another, as the 46-member Leadership Fort Wayne Class of 2018 celebrated its graduation from the program. The graduation ceremony, part of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.’s Annual Meeting on June 13, serves as the beginning of the group’s commitment to servant leadership and community trusteeship.

Now in its 36th year, Leadership Fort Wayne (LFW) has a strong track record of bolstering talent and developing Allen County’s future leaders. LFW is a signature program of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. that has trained, prepared, and inspired more than 1,300 participants to serve Fort Wayne and Allen County. Participants are accepted into the prestigious program based on the merits of their application, and experience nine full program days over the course of eight months. Community leaders make presentations that promote servant leadership, sharing their professional experience as well as their individual leadership styles. Programming is focused around various community topics including history, education, government, arts and culture, health services, human services, and public safety.

With an eye toward becoming better leaders, class members shadow community leaders one-on-one, learning their own leadership style in an apprenticeship-style setting. Class members are also given the opportunity to participate in a board internship at the conclusion of the program year. Fifty percent of the Class of 2018 will take part in this long-standing tradition, while the remaining class members have reported that they’re already serving on several boards or committees.

The LFW Class of 2018 is a diverse cross-section of the community, representing a variety of professions, faiths, races, and orientations. Graduating members include:

Jennifer Bermejo
Matilda Jane Clothing
Melissa Blackmer
Meridian Health Services
Mallory Carter
Monarch Capital Management
Susan Chipps
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.
John Court
ONI Risk Partners
Stephanie Crandall
City of Fort Wayne
Teresa DeLellis
Manchester University
Scott Druhot
Catalyst 1440
Scott Drummond
122nd Fighter Wing
Ronald Duchovic
James Ezell
Targeted Services, P.C.
Kerry Ghent
US Air Force
Cami Grabill
Vincent GreenJana Grothaus
Questa Education Foundation
Cigdem Gurgur
Purdue University Fort Wayne
Laura Hakes
Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority
Erika Halliwill
Jason Haner
Brent Harring
Fort Wayne TinCaps
Tammy Harris
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company
Stephanie Henry
Pocket Potager – Sponsored by LeAnn White
Casey Keirn
Lincoln Financial Group
Chrystal Kreiger
Kathryn Lemish
Lincoln Financial Group
Justin Libey
Old National Bank
Camilla Markley
Wells Fargo Bank
Beth McAvoy
One Lucky Guitar
Cory Miller
CJ Mills
USI Insurance Services
Justin Molitoris
Barrett McNagny
Amanda Muldoon
3Rivers FCU
Emily Musser
Ambassador Enterprises
Brian Nordan
Wade Owen
Marceline Rogers
Parkview Health
Matthew Rowan
University of Saint Francis
Katie Scherer
Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority
Mary Shankster
Junior League of Fort Wayne
Kurt Short
Michelin NA
Anne Marie Smrchek
City Utilities
Jami Thomas
Greater Fort Wayne Inc.
Alisa Thompson
Purdue University Fort Wayne
Adrienne Wampole
Ambassador Enterprises
Teresa White
Ronald McDonald House Charities of NE Indiana
Jarrod Wilson
Indiana Michigan Power

A significant part of the program experience is the Community Action Team each participant joins. The Class of 2018 created seven teams focused on areas like quality of life, non-profit service, and diversity and inclusion. While not every project is completed before graduation, each team is responsible for the planning and deployment of their project. This often includes fundraising, marketing, and building collaborative relationships with individuals or organizations already present in the community.

The Community Action Teams launched by this class include:

  • Welcome Fort Wayne – Develop neighborhood branding in order to highlight the distinguishing features and personality of the communities that make Fort Wayne an attractive place to live, work and play.
  • Giving Back Fort Wayne Volunteer Fair – For the fourth year in a row, a team hosted the Giving Back Fort Wayne Volunteer Fair, featuring more than 60 nonprofit partners seeking volunteers.
  • Be G.R.E.A.T. – Through a series of meetings and experiences, selected youth had the opportunity to connect with career-minded professionals, mentors, and area programs to learn about future career opportunities available to them in Allen County.
  • Veterans Connect – Recognizing the need to direct more veterans to resources available to them, the team raised funds, then launched a media campaign on Memorial Day weekend promoting United Way’s 2-1-1 call center as a resource for veterans.
  • Adopt a Park – Wanting to get their hands dirty and support our community, the team worked with Allen County Parks to clean up Cook’s Landing, a park in the northern part of Allen County.
  • LFW Alumni Legacy Fund – A targeted effort to ask LFW alumni to support the Leadership Fort Wayne Endowment at the Community Foundation, for the purposes of funding scholarships and financially supporting future Community Action Team projects.
  • Us Together – Continuing the mission of last year’s team, the ‘Us Together’ project team partnered with the YWCA to host an issue forum on Civic Engagement. The team also hosted a panel discussion about diversity in the workplace.

Applications to become part of the next LFW class are now available at Applications will be accepted through June 30, 2018.

About Leadership Fort Wayne

Since 1983, LFW has been building better leaders, developing skills that prepare them to support the growth and economic goals of the community and be better employees. They learn and grow together for eight months, going ‘behind the headlines’ for the real story behind Fort Wayne’s most valued treasures. Participants work in Community Action Teams, raising funds and creating partnerships to implement projects. In 2015, Operation: Riverfront spread awareness about possibilities for the rivers, the Giving Back Fort Wayne volunteer expo introduced citizens to nonprofits, and the city’s first Bike Share program launched in April 2016 with the City of Fort Wayne.

About Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Greater Fort Wayne (GFW) Inc. serves Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana, as its metro chamber alliance and primary point of contact for economic growth. GFW Inc. focuses on prosperity and community vibrancy through economic development, advocacy, programs and resources that support business success, leadership development, graduate retention and community engagement.