Event Info:

Dr. Daryl Yost
November 12, 2024, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

You won’t want to miss this! Join the entrepreneurial community, educators, and business leaders on November 12, 2024, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., to celebrate innovation, outstanding community leadership and to be inspired by our keynote speaker.

We encourage event check-in by 11:00 a.m. for the program, which promptly starts at 11:30 a.m. The event ends at 1 p.m. with optional networking to follow.

Register Today!

Individual registration for the event is $75, and sponsorships are available.

Register Here



Interested in sponsoring entrepreneurs to attend or sponsoring the event? Simply complete this form and send it to Jami Thomas, jthomas@niic.net. Or, contact Jami if you’d like to hear more about sponsorships.


Fueling Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The annual Dr. Daryl Yost Ideas@Work Signature Event Series traditionally convenes up to 500 entrepreneurs, business leaders, and students to fuel the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in Northeast Indiana and the greater region. The Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation serves as the event venue.

Each Ideas@Work event features dynamic, distinguished leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship. We celebrate entrepreneurs and outstanding leadership in our community. Click below for highlights from past events.


Thank you sponsors for supporting the entrepreneurial community!




Honoring an Innovative Philanthropist, Who Links Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship

Many in the Northeast Indiana region have the privilege of knowing Cheryl Taylor through her leadership of innovative philanthropy in Allen County. For the past two decades, she was President of Foellinger Foundation, a private, charitable foundation in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with assets of $200M. She is also the Founder and Owner of Taylor Leadership Coaching & […]

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Key Takeaways from Jay Bailey’s Ideas@Work Keynote are Now Available

Each year as we plan our annual Ideas@Work event, we strive to bring a compelling keynote speaker to inspire, provoke thought, and provide actionable learnings. Keynote Speaker, Jay Bailey, President and CEO, Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship certainly delivered. What are YOU doing with the three feet around you? Download the Key Takeaways Card […]

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Transformative Entrepreneurship Key to Serving Minority Business Owners

Do you know that feeling when several days after attending a conference, you still think on what you heard? Many individuals expressed this about our NIIC Ideas@Work Event. Keynote Speaker Jay Bailey, entrepreneur, emerging philanthropist, and President and CEO of the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RICE), inspired and challenged. He was honest about […]

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Business Building—It’s the Way Forward.

If living through a pandemic has taught us anything, it’s flexibility, resiliency, vision, and finding silver linings. Wendy Kennedy, President and Founder, WKI, wendykennedy.com, calls these silver linings milestone moments. “We have to stay focused on the silver linings. We’ve been through tough times before. Focus on the true value you are delivering,” said Kennedy. […]

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Ikigai—reach beyond New Year’s resolutions and goals.

In this season of New Year’s resolutions and goal setting (integral to success), what would happen if we strive for something greater? A driving force for all we do in our lives? Enter, ikigai—a Japanese term meaning “a reason for being.” What would happen if we all lived from that place? My place, my ikigai? […]

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What it Takes to Be an Entrepreneur, 5 Tips to Stay Grounded

Successful entrepreneurs share certain qualities and behaviors. Embracing those may help you stay grounded and propel your success. The NIIC had the privilege to host Fort Wayne, Indiana native Angie Hicks, founder of the home services website Angie’s List, as a keynote speaker for our NIIC Ideas@Work Event. Her story is inspiring and encouraging. Her connection with […]

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5 Guiding Points for Success in Life

We all need guiding points for navigating life, from business interactions to family, home and friends. Chuck Surack, Sweetwater Sound, Sweet Cars and Sweet Aviation Founder (among various other entrepreneurial ventures) shared in The NIIC Ideas@Work Keynote five rules he lives by in our community and through his global companies. Here they are, summarized and expanded. 1) It’s all […]

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Your BIG IDEA , Three Tips from the Man Behind The Million Dollar Arm

Wouldn’t it be great if million-dollar ideas grew on trees? They take hard work, ingenuity, and often lead you outside your comfort zone. For sports agent and entrepreneur J.B. Bernstein, his breakthrough came from looking through a new lens at something as traditional as baseball. Drawing on his unique cross-cultural experience, Bernstein created The Million Dollar Arm contest […]

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5 Myths and Realities of An Entrepreneurial Mindset

There’s a reason a small percentage of the general population pursues entrepreneurial ventures. Myths and misconceptions abound, which dissuades many. Following are five myths and realities inspired by Dr. Donald F. Kuratko (Dr. K.), a national leader of entrepreneurship. Seriously, check out his biography. I had the pleasure of hearing him keynote The NIIC Ideas@Work Event a couple […]

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Interested in sponsoring our Ideas@Work event?

Download our Sponsorship Form

For information about sponsoring Ideas@Work, contact Jami Thomas at jthomas@niic.net

Key Takeaway Cards:

Ideas@Work 2022 Key Takeaways Card - Digital

Keynote Speaker, James "Jay" Bailey
President and CEO, Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Ideas@Work 2020 Key Takeaways Card - Digital

Keynote Speaker, Wendy Kennedy
President and Founder, WKI, wendykennedy.com

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2019 Ideas@Work Key Takeaways Card

Keynote Speaker, Santiago Jaramillo
CEO and Co-Founder of Emplify

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2018 Ideas@Work Key Takeaways Card

Keynote Speaker, Angie Hicks
Co-Founder of Angie's List, Chief Customer Officer of Angi Homeservices

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2017 Ideas@Work Key Takeaways Card

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Donald F. Kuratoko (Dr. K)

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2016 Ideas@Work Key Takeaways Card

Keynote Speaker: Chuck Surack
CEO and Founder of Sweetwater

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2015 Ideas@Work Key Takeaways Card

Keynote Speaker: J. B. Bernstein
Legendary Sports Marketing Pioneer

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2014 Ideas@Work Key Takeaway Card

Keynote Speaker: Eric Doden
President of Indiana Economic Development Corporation

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Mirro Founder Award:

The Ideas@Work Signature Event Series serves as a platform to celebrate and recognize business builders. Established in 2015, the award was named after Dr. Mike Mirro, a prominent physician, entrepreneur, visionary, researcher and community leader. Dr. Mirro was the founding board chair of The NIIC. Originally, the award was presented to clients of The NIIC student business builder program. This has changed to also include all NIIC clients.



Read the news release

2021 – The NIIC Ideas@Work 2021 event was rescheduled to May 2022 due to COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions.



Read the news release



Read the news release



Read the news release



Read the news release


2016 Ideas@Work Mirro Student Founder Award RecipientD-N-S DESIGN, FOUNDERS MATT VANLANDINGHAM AND LINDAL WALKER

Read the news release


2015 Ideas@Work Mirro Student Founder Award RecipientASHELY COLEMAN, LA’SHIC, CREATOR OF ORTHOPEDIC HIGH HEELS

Yost Philanthropy Award:

The Dr. Daryl Yost Excellence in Philanthropy Award honors the remarkable legacy of Dr. Daryl Yost, a cherished colleague and friend.

This prestigious award celebrates the exemplary contributions of innovative philanthropists who lead transformational change within our community. As we honor the memory and the immense impact of Dr. Daryl Yost, we are reminded of his unwavering dedication to connecting people, fostering service to the Kingdom of God, and his indispensable role in managing projects and systems to achieve success.

He personified humility, always placing the mission of the organization above himself. His influence and leadership in Fort Wayne—as well as his involvement in numerous educational, community, and state Boards of Directors—exemplified his commitment to making a difference.

Dr. Yost’s empathetic leadership, boundless generosity, and genuine connection with everyone he encountered left an indelible mark on countless lives. As we gather for the NIIC’s annual Ideas@Work Event, we also celebrate his legacy.

We invite you to submit a nomination for this prestigious award. It’s a tribute to those who, like Dr. Yost, are dedicated to making our community a better place through innovation and servanthood.



2023: John Dortch

John Dortch with Jami Thomas at the 2023
Ideas@Work entrepreneurial event.

In 2023, the award was presented to John Dortch. “John’s dedication to our community has contributed to the economic and social development of the City of Fort Wayne. He promotes its growth and prosperity. He has passion for helping others succeed, which led him to create several businesses,” said Jami Thomas, senior director of business development. His enterprises include the Penta C.S. Group, Fort Wayne Ink Spot, and The Dream Center. He is the author of three books and has provided leadership to numerous organizations serving Fort Wayne youth and minority communities. Read the press release.

2022: Cheryl Taylor

Cheryl Taylor accepting The Dr. Daryl Yost Excellence in Philanthropy Award from Mike Fritsch, NIIC President and CEO

In 2022, Mike Fritsch, NIIC President and CEO, presented the award to Cheryl Taylor. “Cheryl is a trailblazer, a pioneer, a philanthropic thought leader, a disruptor, a coach, and a mentor. Cheryl and her team created transformational opportunities to equip leaders to be better leaders. They fostered a culture of care to bend the curve on Allen County nonprofit organizations to be more effective, to embrace community, and more importantly, the collegiality of practice to set a high bar of excellence,” said Fritsch. Read the news release

2020: Maclyn (Mac) Parker

In 2020 Maclyn (Mac) Parker, Chair, The Olive B. Cole Foundation, was the inaugural award recipient. Mac is a NIIC Board Member and has been since its inception over 20 years ago. Through his leadership and commitment, he has demonstrated his ability to support The NIIC throughout its life. It’s an honor on behalf of The NIIC Board and our entire organization for this award to be presented to Maclyn (Mac) Parker.

Upon receiving the award, Mac said, “It is a real honor to receive this award, particularly because it is named after Daryl Yost. He was a mentor of many and a good friend to a lot of us.” While accepting the award, Parker reflected on visiting Indianapolis and Chattanooga some years ago and was inspired to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors for Northeast Indiana. This led, in part, to the formation of The NIIC. “New job creation and helping entrepreneurs is important to economic development. The NIIC has fostered that. Karl LaPan has been such a great leader, and The NIIC has done so much in our community, leading entrepreneurship.” Read the news release

Yost Business Builder Fund:


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