During the season of giving, we focus on what we’re thankful for, where we can help, and who we can give to that is in need. At Design Collaborative, staff members are encouraged to get involved, give their time, and lend their skills to organizations and people in need. Throughout our 25 year history, we’ve assisted many organizations and nonprofits that our staff are passionate about. We’re thankful for the work these groups do each day, and we’re happy to give our time and talent to them.
Nearly 40% of our staff regularly volunteer with organizations and nonprofits in the community. We work professionally and personally to improve people’s worlds. Several staff members highlight where we give and why we’re thankful for these opportunities.
Architect Bobby Beuchel
Design Collaborative sponsors an Egg Drop competition at Science Central each summer during the Three Rivers Festival. Bobby organizes the competition, where children design contraptions that will be tossed from the roof of Science Central with the hopes that the egg inside is safe. Bobby feels that the event connects kids to science and engineering, and he enjoys watching kids come back to compete year after year.
“Being passionate about Egg Drop makes it enjoyable and easy to give up a lot of time to make sure it goes off without a hitch,” said Bobby. “The impact of getting kids to Science Central could inspire them to go into STEM programs.”
Principal and Architect Ron Dick
Ron is a Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana. He’s admired their work for years, and decided to volunteer as a Big Brother when he and his wife became “empty nesters.” His Little Brother is a 10 year old boy with boundless energy and a great heart. They have fun bowling, go-karting, playing basketball, and they even tried kayaking in summertime. His Little Brother also helped DC with their Three Rivers Festival Chalk Walk entry last summer.
“My Little Brother is a very nice, polite young man, and he makes an impact on me,” said Ron. “I’m hoping to have a little influence on him.”
In addition to his work Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ron is a Board member for Artlink Contemporary Gallery, a member of the NIPSCO Community Advisory Panel, serves on the Department of Architecture Professional Advisory Board at Ball State University, and a Board member for Glorious Gate Rowing Association (he even learned to row this fall).
Architect Jeremiah Hatfield
Jeremiah is a local pack leader for Boy Scouts of America. In his childhood, he was very active in the scouting program, moving through the ranks from first grade to earning his Eagle Scout as a high school freshman. He believes the program teaches valuable outdoor and leadership skills that boys aren’t taught in school or through sports.
“It’s very rewarding when you teach a boy how to swing a hammer for the first time, set up a tent, cook over a fire, how to use a knife, or treat emergency first aid,” said Jeremiah. “It's great to see kids out in the wilderness without electronics having fun and using their imaginations.”
In addition to his work with Boy Scouts of America, Jeremiah serves on the Canterbury School Facilities Committee.
Business Manager Dawn Houser
Dawn is the Treasurer for the Northrop Instrumental Music Parents Association. Through her volunteer work, she stays connected with her child and his school, and donates her time and skills to the band.
“I love being a part of any activities that my kids are passionate about,” said Dawn. “The kids invest a great deal of time and effort into the Big Orange Pride (marching band), and they deserve as much support as possible to help them be as successful as possible! Being a part of the parent booster group enables me to support not only my kids, but the entire marching band.”
Architect Adam James
Adam serves on the committee for Weather the Fort, an event encouraging people to come outside during winter for a festival celebrating arts and culture.
“My role includes helping with everything from finding sponsors and entertainment, marketing and graphics, and working at and setting up the event,” said Adam. “We are a small but mighty group that loves making Fort Wayne a better place, and are glad we can help provide a free event for people to enjoy!”
Interior Designer Jess Miller
Jess is an IPFW (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) Alumni Board member. As a previous student athlete, she felt her experiences and involvement would be valuable to the future of the university. Despite holding a degree that says Purdue, she feels she’s a part of IPFW as a whole.
“There is a sense of pride in me to represent Fort Wayne and speak for IPFW alumni, so I was very interested in hearing about the future of the campus’s transition,” said Jess. “Professionally, I’ve worked on a handful of projects on campus. I feel some sense of ownership to IPFW because of my role at Design Collaborative.”
Graduate Electrical Engineer Gaby Mosquera
Gaby volunteers through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana as a Big Sister. When she thought about how much time she was spending doing pointless things, she decided to use her spare time for good. Her volunteer time fulfills her knowing she’s making an impact on someone’s life that is really in need of a friend and mentor.
“Seeing how much my Little Sister appreciates the smallest of things makes me realize how we sometimes lose perspective and forget what’s really important in life,” said Gaby. “I think being a Big Sister is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve been through.”
Architect Mike Niezer
Mike recently ended his two-year term as Board President for the American Institute of Architects (AIA FW), Fort Wayne chapter.
“As President, my goals were to engage local architects in membership to advance the profession and design in our community.”
In addition to his work at AIA FW, Mike is Vice President of the Ball State University Indiana Alumni chapter, a founding member of the Weather the Fort event committee, and a member of the Fort Wayne Confluence networking group.
Principal and Architect Pat Pasterick
Pat is involved extensively in the community. He serves on the Board for Junior Achievement, Greater Fort Wayne, Inc., and the American Institute of Architects Fort Wayne (AIA FW). He is a member of the board of trustees for the University of Saint Francis, the Chair of their Enrollment and Planning Committee, and a member of their Downtown Campus Taskforce. He is a member of the Regional Opportunities Council and Talent Attraction Committee for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. He is on the Science Central Advisory Board. He is Chair of the Advocacy Committee for AIA FW. He is House Committee Chair, and an usher, at Trinity English Lutheran Church.
“What a great time to be in northeast Indiana!” said Pat. “I think all of us want to think we were able to make a difference with our lives. We encourage all of our staff to find ways to engage their passions outside the office by giving back to the community. With so much going on in the region, there are an incredible number of opportunities for those who are interested in being involved and making a difference in our communities. I find that my involvement in these adds richness to my life and also provides additional context to the design solutions we develop.”
Graduate Architect Steven Putt
Steven is the American Institute of Architects Fort Wayne (AIA FW) Programs Committee Chairperson. He is responsible for planning the group’s events throughout the year.
“I was drawn to the organization and this position because I’m interested in growing a sense of community between professionals that practice architecture in Fort Wayne,” said Steven. “My hope is that if myself and other AIA FW members’ efforts are successful, people of Fort Wayne will increasingly rely on Fort Wayne architects’ expertise on how design as a whole can contribute to better built environment.”
Electrical Engineer Kelsey Rowe
One of Kelsey’s favorite things about Fort Wayne is how many opportunities people have to get involved and make a difference in the community. She serves on the committee for Weather the Fort, an event encouraging people to come outside during winter for a festival celebrating arts and culture.
“Participating in community engagement events is really important to me,” said Kelsey. “I feel like I’m giving back to the city that I work and play in. As a ‘transplant’ to northeast Indiana, volunteering makes me feel more connected to Fort Wayne on a personal level.”
Principal and Mechanical Engineer Craig Scully
Craig is the Board President for the Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association (FWAHA). FWAHA oversees the development of all amateur hockey in Fort Wayne, including high school and recreation leagues. Craig also coaches and referees. He takes satisfaction in knowing the time he volunteers is helping others, and hopes his children will learn the value of volunteering through his efforts.
“I have a passion for sports,” said Craig. “I played sports all my life and believe there are a number of great life lessons that come from playing sports, including discipline, dedication, working with a team, and learning to take the losses as well as the wins with grace. And developing great friends along the way!”
In addition to his work with the FWAHA, Craig serves on the Board for the Fort Wayne Sports Foundation.
Graduate Architect Jen Snell
Jen is a founder and president of the Karen Hiser Memorial Foundation, honoring her late mother. The Foundation provides financial assistance to families and individuals diagnosed with breast cancer who are living or working in Allen County. The Foundation raises funds through an annual golf outing that Jen organizes, as well as other efforts.
“I love helping others and being able to help someone simply make a mortgage payment, or buy groceries for their family, or take their kids on a day trip,” said Jen. “Whatever it is, they shouldn’t have to bear a financial burden on top of fighting for their life.”
Business Development Manager Steve Staley
Steve serves on the Board for the Parkview Family YMCA, where he is also a member of the Membership Committee, and Co-Chair of the Annual Fundraising Campaign. As a lifelong volunteer and sports advocate, he can fulfill both roles through the YMCA by volunteering as a youth athletics coach. He believes volunteers are carrying out a job, despite not being paid, in order to provide valuable skills and gain personal experience for the future.
“The biggest thing is caring for our community and serving people that might be less fortunate than you,” said Steve. “Being an example to my children, family, friends, and colleagues through community service is highly important, but inspiring other people to serve through your actions is a wonderful feeling. I also believe it’s a better way to know your community and that it’s a part of your civic duty.”
In addition to his work with the Parkview Family YMCA, Steve serves on the Board for Friends of the Three Rivers Festival Foundation, Invisible Vets, and Fort Wayne Music Festival. He is also a council member at Life Bridge Church.
Architect Pat Steffen
Pat serves as a member of Knights of Columbus at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, a group he helped form two years ago. The group has contributed to many local projects, as well as several worthy causes across the state.
“This has been a great opportunity to volunteer and give back to my lifelong parish and school that I attended as a child and will send my children to,” said Pat.
In addition to his work with the Knights of Columbus, Pat serves as a council member for the Bishop John M. D’Arcy Council 16396.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator Kourtney Teegardin
Kourtney serves as the Vice President of Leadership Development on the Board for Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana (YLNI). In her role, she oversees the implementation of three of its programs. She’s been volunteering with YLNI for nearly four years, and values the opportunity to make a difference with a group of “go-getters” working to improve the community and attract new and talented young professionals.
“YLNI is working to engage young leaders in our city because we believe it’s a cool place to live, work, and play,” said Kourtney. “My involvement here has not only connected me to so many amazing people, but it’s empowered me to speak up and get involved with matters that I care about.”
Graduate Architect Justin Vedder
Graduate Architect Justin Vedder serves on the Board for the Williams-Woodland Park Neighborhood Association. The group has won outreach awards, holds several events including a holiday home tour, and organizes regular neighborhood clean-ups. He enjoys seeing people take pride in their community and wants to help make it a better place to live.
“People often scoff when I tell them the street names near my home,” said Justin. “Changing people’s perception of those streets has been a goal of mine. I’d like to think that over the last eight years living in that area, I’ve had some impact on achieving that.”
Architect Rachel Vedder
Rachel serves on the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). The group reviews applications for Certificates of Appropriateness for properties in historic districts that are making modifications visible to the public.
“I live in a historic district and believe the built environment contributes to our quality of life,” said Rachel. “I’m honored to sit on the HPC and weigh in on what may or may not enhance or degrade the character of a building.”
In addition to her work with HPC, Rachel is actively involved with the Williams-Woodland Park Neighborhood Association.
Director of Marketing Jason Villarreal
Jason is the President-Elect of American Advertising Federation Fort Wayne (AdFed). The group promotes and works to improve the advertising industry.
“I felt a little nervous going into AdFed because I didn’t have what I felt was a ‘typical’ agency background, but I was more than pleasantly surprised by the warm reception and good humor with which I was received,” said Jason. “Today, I feel connected to the hard-beating heart of design talent in Fort Wayne, and all it took was an email to AdFed to see how I could get more involved.”
Director of Business Development Cathy Waggoner
Cathy serves on the Gateway Coalition Steering Committee. This group is a sector partnership between education and business leaders in Allen County, specifically focusing on building career pathways in manufacturing and construction. The group works to inform people of the need to fill open skilled labor positions, and inform students that college isn’t their only option after high school. Skilled laborers are needed in northeast Indiana.
“We’ve interacted with over 3,000 students and 50 counselors through classroom presentation, assemblies, and career fairs, as well as discovery tours in local businesses,” said Cathy. “It has been so encouraging to see the kids get excited about the options they have outside of college or fast food and retail careers. I feel like I’m helping these kids hear about a future career that fits them better and will have an economic impact for our region by helping these companies solve their workforce issues.”
In addition to her work with the Gateway Coalition, Cathy serves on the committee for Regional Partnership Brand Ambassadors.
Construction Engineer Kelli Warner
Kelli is a classroom volunteer with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana. She remembers the program being fun and engaging when she was a child, and feels its message to inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy has a lasting impact on students.
“I started volunteering in the classroom seven years ago when my sister started teaching first grade,” said Kelli. “I think Junior Achievement is really doing great things for the students in northern Indiana. I’m happy that I can be a part of making a difference in kids’ lives.”
In addition to her work with Junior Achievement, Kelli also serves on the Board with the Central YMCA, and volunteers with the Building Contractors Association (BCA) on their program committee.
Architect Dave West
Dave serves on the event committee for Art This Way, an art crawl. He joined the committee because it’s an event that increases community exposure to both the visual arts and local music.
“While a lot of attention is given to downtown building projects, the arts play an equally important role in the development of Fort Wayne’s culture and vibrant downtown environment,” said Dave. “Public art and events like the art crawl help create a sense of pride that translates into deeper personal connections to the Fort Wayne community.”