Guiding youth to lead healthy and safe lives.

Thirty youth professionals from across Indiana are selected to the prestigious 2019 Executive Journey Fellowship

Thirty executives from youth serving organizations from across Indiana have been selected to The 2019 Executive Journey Fellowship. In response to a growing need for ongoing professional and personal renewal in the field of youth work, the Journey Fellowship was created in 2002 and funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. The Executive Journey Fellowship provides Indiana’s youth workers greater opportunities to bring more meaning to their lives and make stronger commitments to the field of youth work.

“This Fellowship is about renewing individuals, which leads to renewing organizations and ultimately, to renewing the entire field of youth work,” says Tom Plake, Journey Leader.

Each of the thirty participants in the Journey Fellowship will attend a series of residential retreats designed to create new ways of thinking about and practicing youth work within existing systems and youth programs. Fellows are awarded personal renewal scholarships, and will be supported to make a difference within their local organizations and communities.

So far, the Journey Fellowship has served more than 1,000 prospective and current youth workers (2003-2018) through this retreat-based format. Fellows are engaged in creating exploration and renewal opportunities throughout the state of Indiana. Countless other youth workers have been served through conference workshops, day-long seminars, and other types of renewal for staff and organizations within local communities facilitated by Journey Leaders.

“We know that youth workers play a vital role in the lives of young people. It has been documented in dozens of ways that youth who enjoy positive relationship with adults over time do better in life,” explains Janet Wakefield, Journey Leader. “We also know that many people enter the profession because they ‘want to make a difference’ and they enjoy building positive relationships with young people. The Executive Journey Fellowship provides Indiana’s youth workers greater opportunities to strengthen themselves as leaders and invest in their careers serving the young people of Indiana.”

Congratulations 2019 Executive Journey Fellows!

The Journey is pleased and honored to announce the 30 distinguished Indiana leaders in the field of youth development who have been nominated and selected to be the seventeenth class of The Executive Journey Fellowship.


Kevin MacDowell

Teen Services and Digital Creativity Strategist, Monroe County Public Library

Josh Reynolds

Campus Pastor, Monroe Christian Student Fellowship


Jennifer Simpson

Healthy Families Director, Family Centered Services


Heather Carson

Director, Council for Youth Development Bartholomew County

Crown Point
Kevin Elkins

Juvenile Probation Supervisor, Lake County Superior Court

Fort Wayne

Sharon Pohly

Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana-Michiana

Aisha Smiley

Recruiter and Field Lecturer, Indiana University School of Social Work


Jessica Hilary

Director, Student Hunger Drive
Community Outreach and Enrollment Specialist, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Elkhart County

E-man Monge

Executive Director, The Post Youth Center


Jon MacMurdo

Family Case Manager Supervisor, Indiana Department of Child Services


Robyn Baker

Regional Manager, AYS, Inc.

Burt Beck

Warren Township Area Site Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis

Lauran Canady

Director of Clinical Based Services, Adult and Child Health

Brian Dinkins

President, National Institute for Child Empowerment

Anthony Dumas

In-House Manager, Outreach, Inc.

Letitia Haywood

State Clinical Director, Dockside Services

Melaina Gant
Director Education Services, Indiana Department of Child Services

Matthew Gooding

Assistant Deputy Director, Indiana Department of Child Services

Floranne Ploi Pagdalian

Senior Director of Programs, Arts for Learning

Randy Pease

Director of Education, Indiana Repertory Theatre

Karis Reid

Divisional Manager, Indiana Department of Child Services

Abbe Shapiro

Director of Programs and Evaluation, LifeSmart Youth

Danielle Shockey

Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts of Central Indiana


Brenda Stellema

Director of Court Appointed Youth Advocate Program, Family Advocates, Inc.


Brandi Poling

Chief Executive Officer, Lide White Boys and Girls Club


Tammy Pearson

Director, Project Leadership

Michigan City

Brandi Lewis

Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Michigan City, Inc.


Russell Higgins

Mental Health Therapist, Associates in Behavioral Counseling


Rachel Harting

21st CCLC Afterschool Program Coordinator, Blue River Services, Inc.


Elizabeth Learned

Regional Manager, Indiana Department of Child Services

The Journey is home to a variety of programs that seek to support the renewal and professionalization of youth workers in Indiana and around the country. To learn more, visit

Help us guide Indiana youth to lead healthy and safe lives.