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The second annual Great KIDS Leader Impact Academy will empower leaders from all professional sectors to advance the well-being of Allen County’s children and families.  Our focus for this convening of the Academy is achieving positive youth development by utilizing strength-based practices, with particular emphasis on the 40 Developmental Assets.

The vision of the Great KIDS Leader Impact Academy is to help equip leaders in organizations (across all professional sectors) in our community who can have an impact on positive youth development through increased knowledge of strength-based practices.  The Academy participants, in particular, will spend time focusing on positive youth development as framed by Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets.

Upon completion of the academy, participants will receive a Continuing Education Certificate from Purdue University Fort Wayne.

There is no fee for participants.  Applications are accepted from June 3, 2019-July 3, 2019.  Applicants will participate in an individual interview prior to selection and the cohort will be notified of selection by August 1, 2019.


The Great KIDS Leader Impact Academy is designed for public and private sector leaders working in social services, juvenile justice, education, health care, law enforcement, mental health and other community organizations. Attendees of the Leader Impact Academy will be the current and future leaders of these organizations—responsible for and capable of effecting change. There is no fee for participants.


After completing the Leader Impact Academy training, participants will be responsible for the implementation of a Capstone Project — a set of actions designed and implemented by Academy participants to initiate collaborative efforts to improve awareness of evidence-based, positive youth development practices and the development of programs to address needs in Allen County.


The Academy has been developed through consultation with Shay Bilchik, JD, and Macon Stewart, MSW, of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy.

Funding for the Great KIDS Leader Impact Academy has been made possible by Foellinger Foundation.

About the Leader Impact Academy Speakers


Dr. Debi Grebenik, LCSW (Alia)

Debi Grebenik trains internationally and is known for her expertise in healing child trauma. She also trains on Vicarious Trauma within child welfare and judicial systems as well as for first responders and medical professionals. She is known for her engaging and enthusiastic presentations on healing for children, youth, families, teams, and systems.

Her education includes a Masters’ Degree in Social Work; a Master’s Degree in Religious Education; a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation from the University of Colorado.

Debi is the Chief Knowledge Officer of Alia, a new nonprofit organization focused on innovations for people and systems impacted by childhood trauma.

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Dr. Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D.  (aha! Process)

Ruby Payne is the authority on working across economic classes to create sustainable communities where everyone can live well.  An engaging and down-to-earth speaker, Payne translates abstract concepts into concrete strategies with a sense of humor that leaves audiences wanting more. After changing the conversation in education to focus on poverty, Payne’s work has expanded into social services, criminal justice, healthcare, the workplace, and more.

Payne has written or co-authored more than a dozen books, including Bridges Out of Poverty with Philip DeVol and Terie Dreussi-Smith. Her seminal, award-winning work, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, has sold more than 1.5 million copies and continues to help individuals of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success.

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Dr. Annemarie Grassi

Dr. Annemarie M. Grassi has served as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Open Doors Academy (ODA) for the past 17 years. She is a dynamic and caring individual who works passionately and tirelessly to build this successful organization, which was once earmarked for closure. At 23-years-old, she started the non-profit ODA and grew it from 20 kids to over 600 kids annually.

Dr. Grassi holds a B.A. with Honors in Psychology from Ohio University, M.S.Ed. in Child and Adolescent Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Non Profit Management Certificate from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. in Urban Education from Cleveland State University. Through growth of Open Doors Academy and the new Center for Out-of-School Advancement and service on a number of nonprofit boards, she brings a depth of experience in child and adolescent development, program development, metrics and outcomes, fundraising, and strategic planning.

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Dr. Shakti Butler, Ph.D. (World Trust)

Shakti Butler, Ph.D., filmmaker and Founder & President of World Trust, is a dynamic educator in the field of diversity and racial equity.  Dr. Butler engages audiences with participatory keynotes and workshops, often using clips from her films. Known as a catalyst for change, she is hired by organizations seeking broader support for their diversity & inclusion goals.

Shakti Butler is a multiracial African-American woman (African, Arawak Indian, and Russian-Jewish) whose work as a creative and visionary bridge builder has challenged and inspired learning for over two decades. She is the producer and director of groundbreaking documentaries including The Way Home, Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible, and Light in the Shadows.  Her latest film Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity uses story, theater and music to illuminate the larger frame of structural/systemic racial inequity.

Skye Berger (Door Opener Academy)

Skye Berger is an Executive Leadership & Lifestyle Coach and the Chief Encouragement Officer at Door Opener Academy. Skye’s professional background includes child welfare, mental health, addictions, facilitation, and program development. Skye is a sought after expert in empowering youth and families while renewing the youth workers and organizations that serve

them. Skye has reached international audiences through keynote, online and live facilitation experiences. Unparalleled in her desire and aptitude to engage her audience, Skye is able to cultivate excitement and synergy within individuals, families, and organizations. This Gary, Indiana native holds a Bachelor of Arts in both psychology and sociology from Purdue University and a Master of Science in management science with a concentration in executive coaching and organizational behavior from the University of Texas.


James (Jim) Conway

James (Jim) Conway is a veteran trainer and speaker with over 25 years experience providing training and consultation to youth serving professionals and volunteers in educational and community-based organizations in the US and abroad. He has designed and delivered major training for Search Institute since 1995. For the last decade, he also served as a lead trainer and presenter for Vision Training Associates. Conway has also served as a member of the national training team, National Institute on Out-of-School Time, Wellesley College, MA. Prior to beginning his career as a trainer and speaker on positive youth development, Jim served for 15 years in leadership roles of various programs for children and young adolescents.


Contact Joelle Schrader, Leader Impact Academy Coordinator, about applying for the 2020 class: joelle@greatkidsallencounty.org.

Check out our Leader Impact Academy Info Packet for more info.