August 2021

August 2021


August is back to school month! In this edition, YWCA Northeast Indiana offers our kudos and heart-filled thanks to our community’s teachers and educators!

Meet our YWCA Northeast Indiana Community Educators Janelle Schutt and Cristina Jimenez. Janelle and Cristina are passionate about educating youth, as well as adults, throughout our six-county service area. Please take a moment to learn more about them below, and visit our website for a list of our presentation topics. Your school or workplace would enjoy one of our free presentations! Please reach out to Jennifer Rohlf, Director of Empowerment, at to schedule yours.

We also want to highlight a few additional educators located throughout our community. In our Empowering Leaders video series, we recognize Lisa Givan, VP of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Indiana Tech. Indiana Tech has been a great partner to YWCA Northeast Indiana. Learn more about Lisa and how she works to empower others! Her personal motto is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

Also, our POP stars continually seek ways to empower others, and this month’s featured leaders are Melissa Schenkel and Leslee Hill. These ladies are definitely worth your time to get to know!

As YWCA Northeast Indiana strives to educate our community on domestic violence, we invite you to participate in our annual Circle event. We celebrate our 25th year at our upcoming event scheduled for October 21st. Please register now to experience this interactive, Mary Poppins-themed event.

Please join us in thanking Pizza Hut and Lowe’s for their recent in-kind donations! We are blessed to be a part of a generous community, with folks and organizations donating their time, talents, and treasure to help support our mission. We cannot thank you all enough for your support. The words “thank you” just do not seem to adequately express our gratitude. We could not do what we do without you!


Community Education

YWCA Northeast Indiana offers a variety of educational services that cover each facet of our mission: eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We offer a variety of both adult and youth education programs. Our Community Educators have spoken to tens of thousands of young people in schools, youth groups, and community centers as well as a host of adult professionals. We seek to create fun and empowering programs that are relevant to the young people we work with. You can learn more about our education services on our website.

Meet our Community Educators:


Janelle Schutt
 (pictured on the left) is a community educator and activist living in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Janelle is passionate about advocating for healthy relationships and sexualities and is committed to the pleasures of life-long learning. Janelle holds degrees in gender studies and psychology with certificates in cultural anthropology and LGBT studies from Purdue University Fort Wayne and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in family and community health at Purdue University. Janelle has over five years of experience leading local grassroots campaigns for issues such as healthcare access and sexual assault prevention and has served in numerous committee positions, including founding chair of the Purdue Sexual Assault Prevention Committee and president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action – Purdue Fort Wayne. Janelle envisions a world in which our community has increased access to trauma-informed, evidence-based education that empowers individuals toward health and self-determination. Off the clock, Janelle is a nature nerd who enjoys houseplants, camping with their dog, Frances, and kayaking across the Midwest.

Cristina Jimenez (pictured on the right) is a community educator and graduate student that resides in Fort Wayne. She graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) in 2016, having obtained her bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in religious studies. Cristina is currently pursuing her master’s degree in counseling education at Purdue Fort Wayne with a focus on mental health counseling. She is currently the philanthropy chair for the PFW Counseling Education Honors Program chapter, Chi Eta Sigma. Cristina has seven years of experience working with diverse populations in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. She is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and racial/ethnic justice. Cristina is trilingual, speaking English, Spanish, and French fluently. She enjoys learning and spends time educating herself on a variety of topics. She has a passion for educating and supporting youth and adults. She truly believes that knowledge is equal to empowerment and strives to empower others through her role as an educator. With her years of experience working with diverse populations, Cristina hopes to continue to expand her knowledge base as well as be a base of support for people of all socioeconomic classes, races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations once she is licensed as a mental health counselor. Cristina envisions a world in which YWCA’s mission is a fact, racism is eliminated, and people of all genders are empowered. She would also like to see greater access, culturally affirming practices, and higher awareness/prevention of social issues like domestic violence and sexual assault. In her free time, Cristina enjoys traveling, spending quality time with her daughter, Azeneth, going out with friends for brunch/dinner, trying new foods/activities, and spending time in nature going on walks.




YWCA sends a HUGE thank you to Dana from Lowe’s for thinking of YWCA for this donation and to her drivers, Andrew and Ken, for dropping the donations off! We received six pallets containing cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, and masks that we can use to keep our clients safe and our facilities clean.

Pizza Hut


Thank you to Pizza Hut for donating dinner at our Back-to-School Bash for the children and their families that are currently living with us!


YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Power of Persimmon (POP) initiative honors empowered women who diligently seek to help empower other women through mentorship, networking, and education. Kudos to these remarkable women!


Leslee Hill has a corporate fashion background, has owned and operated small businesses, and is currently the Program Director for the WEOC Women’s Business Center. To Leslee, an empowering woman “thinks and plays big, leaving people wondering how she is grounded.” She encourages others to deeply investigate their beliefs and refocus their life to align with their values. Learn more about Leslee here.


Melissa Schenkel is VP, Director of Marketing & Communication for STAR Bank and an active member of the Fort Wayne community. “One of the most beneficial tips I’ve learned in life is to be comfortable with silence. We often have a tendency to fill awkward silence by speaking, and when doing this, we find we are talking quickly and don’t represent exactly how we feel due to being anxious.” Learn more about Melissa 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.


25th Annual Circle Event – Registration OPEN!


We are excited about our upcoming 25th Circle event! If you haven’t heard any of the buzz yet, we have an exciting Mary Poppins-themed event planned, including a silver screening of our new building, The Hefner Center. Register Now!


Lisa Givan


Featured in this month’s Empowering Leaders Video Series is Lisa Givan, Vice President for Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Belonging and Chief Diversity Officer at Indiana Institute of Technology.

Learn more about Lisa here.

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




In-Kind Needs Wishlist


Looking for ways to give back to the community and support our mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all?

We are always appreciative of your generous in-kind gifts. We have recently updated the wish list on our website, specifying sizes and clothing types that our women and children currently need. We are only able to accept NEW clothing.

Email Hannah at to coordinate a donation!

Goldstein Family Scholarship Program


The goal of the Goldstein Family Scholarship Program is to help female survivors of domestic violence improve their self-sufficiency and quality of life by completing higher education. The scholarship fund provides financial support for tuition, books, rent, utilities, and childcare. Learn more here.


If you would like to financially support YWCA Northeast Indiana, you can access our donation page by following the link: Donate Here