March 2021

March 2021


Please join us as we celebrate women in recognition of Women’s History Month! Over the years, women of all ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic, and educational levels have paved the road for the women who have followed. As we recognize Women’s History Month, we salute all of these women, as well as all who have helped reduce gender disparities.

Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go across the board. The Allen County Women and Girls Survey conducted by Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute from January 2019 through February 2020 provides some interesting statistics that are worth highlighting. Per this report:

  • 24% of full time employed women make less than $25,000 per year
  • Only 10% of women working full time make more than $75,000 per year
  • 35% of surveyed women have experienced domestic violence
  • 30% have experienced sexual assault, harassment, or rape
  • 70% of women in Allen County have experienced some type of violence or crime in their life
  • 43-46% of girls between the ages if 13-18 report feeling sad or hopeless

YWCA Northeast Indiana programming provides services to assist in these areas, and more. Please visit our website to learn more about how we provide life-changing services for women, as well as our youth.

In this edition, we recognize Valerie Panning, MSW, LCSW, LCAC, the director of our addictions recovery residential program, for passing her LCAC exam, earning her licensure for the revered Licensed Clinical Addictions Counselor (LCAC) credential, the highest certification available for managing substance abuse treatment. The women and children being served in our Hope & Harriet program are in good hands with Valerie and her top-notch team! Read more below.

Additionally, we want to give kudos to one of our Board members, Denita Washington, as she is featured in the March edition of Fort Wayne magazine. And, we offer our heartfelt appreciation to Heather Lytle with Lytle Communications for organizing her annual Supportive Sisters Bra drive, and to Glenbrook’s Macy’s Backstage for their donation drive!

Our Power of Persimmon initiative is featuring Jess Hopkins and Michelle Gladieux this month!  And, our featured empowering leader in our Empowering Leaders video series is Amy Lehrman, Managing Director at Katz, Sapper & Miller. Read more about these rock stars, and their work to empower others!

Do you know about our Dress for Success program? We highlight this program in this edition, and share with you an upcoming event!  The Dress For Success Fashion Week virtual event raises money for this program through corporate sponsorships and individual donations. Stay tuned to our social media to learn who our celebrity models will be and how you can cast your vote while donating to YWCA Northeast Indiana. We are grateful to our apparel partner, White House Black Market. More soon!

Lastly, we want to keep you abreast of what is occurring at our new house. In December 2020, YWCA Northeast Indiana purchased Hall’s Guesthouse hotel on Washington Center Road. Quite frankly, we have outgrown our facilities, which are currently located in three separate places. This acquisition will enable us to join our programs together under one roof and enable us to have the space we need for growth. In this edition, we share some photos from the themed bedrooms, which we aspire to retain. Our plan is to preserve the unique themes as best as we can to provide clients with a pleasant, comfortable, and dignified living space as they transition out of crisis. Stay tuned as we share the exciting adventure of preparing our new house for our use.

As always, our dear friends and supporters, we could not do this without you!

Check out these accomplishments!

We don’t want to brag, but we just cannot help it! YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Clinical Director of Addictions Services, Valerie Panning MSW, LCSW, LCAC, just passed her exam to obtain her Indiana counseling licensure as a licensed clinical addictions counselor (LCAC). LCACs are the most highly-trained substance abuse counseling professionals in Indiana and provide specialized services to clients with substance abuse challenges. Valerie oversees our Hope & Harriet addictions recovery residential program, serving women and their children. Please help us congratulate Valerie on her accomplishment!

YWCA Northeast Indiana Board member, Denita Washington, is featured in Fort Wayne Magazine’s March 2021 issue. Check out how she encourages everyone to own their narrative on page 51.


A shoutout to Heather Lytle with Lytle Communications for organizing her annual Supportive Sisters Bra Drive! Heather partnered with local businesses to collect 207 brand new bras for our clients. Bras are an expensive but necessary wardrobe item. Providing basic needs, such as clothing, is an important way we care for our clients with dignity. Thank you Heather and everyone else who donated!




Dress for Success Fort Wayne empowers economically disadvantaged women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire for job interviews and court appearances, and development tools such as editing resumes, writing cover letters, assisting with job searches, and establishing interview skills.


Community celebrities will model clothing provided by White House Black Market as part of this virtual event!  You will have a chance to vote for your favorite model/outfit, while also donating to YWCA Northeast Indiana. The model with the most votes will receive a free outfit donated by White House Black Market. Stay tuned to learn who our models will be and for ways to participate. If you are interested in being a corporate sponsor for this event, please reach out to Kristina at

10.png?Revision=tdf&Timestamp=xRK5nLYWCA Northeast Indiana’s Power of Persimmon initiative honors empowered women who diligently seek to help empower other women through mentorship, networking, and education. Kudos to these remarkable women!


Jess Hopkins, VP Market Leader for First Merchants Bank, has been in the financial world since 2007. To Jess, an empowering woman means someone who has the drive to achieve the goals she has set for herself. It means sometimes going against the traditional opinion to ensure your voice is being heard. Having the courage to stand tall and express your beliefs. Learn more about Jess here.


Michelle Gladieux, President and Founder of Gladieux Consulting says “Women all around us are shining their light on others, each one a blessing to the planet. These are women who perceive with five senses and also a sixth, allowing them to visualize others’ potential. They care enough to speak truth to those they mentor, giving sincere praise but also constructive criticism. They delight in mentoring. They illuminate others’ potential. We can all be empowering influences if we seek these teaching skills and cultivate a ‘give back/pay forward’ mindset.” Read more about how Michelle empowers others here.

Stay tuned to upcoming newsletters to see who will be featured next in Power of Persimmon! Thank you to our media partner, Glo Magazine.

Our New Home

YWCA Northeast Indiana purchased our new home in December 2020. Our new home is the former Hall’s Guesthouse hotel and restaurant, located on Washington Center Road. We are excited about bringing all of our programs (currently three different locations) under one roof to better serve our clients and the community. With this new home, we will also have more space to expand our services. More updates will be coming as we begin renovations!


We plan to preserve the unique themes in each room as best we can in order to provide clients with a pleasant, comfortable, and dignified living space as they transition out of crisis.

Amy Lehrman

Featured in this month’s Empowering Leaders Video Series is Amy Lehrman, Managing Director at Katz, Sapper & Miller.

Learn more about Amy here.

Thank you to Amy Lehrman for being our featured empowering leader! We are also thankful for our corporate partner, Fort Wayne Metals, for sponsoring this initiative.


Macy’s Backstage Donation Drive

During the months of March and April, the Glenbrook Macy’s Backstage is holding a donation drive for YWCA Northeast Indiana. To support us in this way, go to the first floor of Macy’s to purchase select items to donate for our clients.