YWCA Northeast Indiana celebrates a community that embraces the inherent dignity of all people. To encourage awareness and acceptance of diversity, YWCA Northeast Indiana’s Level Up Council hosts Diversity Dialogues, where we bring in panelists and guest speakers to help lead the community in compelling conversation on interesting topics important to our community. We do our best to always ensure a variety of perspectives and topics that provoke deep thought.


Generational Wealth Gap

Time: Thursday, May 26 from 12-1:30 p.m. (arrive about 11:30 a.m. to settle in)
Location: Indiana Tech,  Seitz Conference Center/Andorfer Commons



Join us for a dialogue about the reasons for and impact of the generational wealth gap. Following the discussion, we will have time for attendees to walk around and visit different tables and have conversations about how we can impact the wealth gap in areas such as finances, banking, education, employment, job creation etc.

Speaker: Pat Ashton
Dr. Pat Ashton is a sociologist who has been teaching, training, consulting, and organizing workshops about race, ethnicity, equality and social justice issues for the past five decades. Born and raised in a working-class neighborhood in Detroit, Pat has been deeply involved in the civil rights and social justice movements from the mid-1960s on. A first-generation college graduate, Pat went on to earn a Ph.D in Sociology from Michigan State University. After teaching at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne for 35 years, Pat moved to Manchester University, where he taught Sociology and Peace Studies for five years. Pat Ashton is the author or coauthor of three books and over two dozen published research articles, a number of them dealing with race and inequality. Pat is also a certified community mediator and mediation trainer and the recipient of 16 teaching awards.

Table Leaders:

Rachel Blakemann
Rachel Blakeman, J.D., has served as the director of the Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute since July 2017. At CRI she works with clients to provide impartial, contract-based research and analysis, with an emphasis on non-profit agencies, public health, economic development and workforce data, to enable leaders to make informed decisions. She also provides project management and grant writing and grant administration services at CRI, securing more than $4 million in state grant funding for a CRI client. Additionally she is an adjunct professor at PFW, having taught Law and Public Policy and Hospitality and Tourism Law. Blakeman is a cum laude graduate of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and licensed to practice law in Indiana. Born and raised in Ohio, she earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and has called Fort Wayne home since 1999.

Deb Romary
Deb is the retired owner of Romary Financial Services, a local firm that assisted companies, churches, and individuals with managing money. A South Side High School graduate, Deb achieved a bachelor’s degree in business from The American College and a master’s degree in economics from The American College. She also is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary with a degree in theology. As women continue to be paid less than men in similar jobs, raise children and grandchildren, and provide momentum for the next generation of women seeking equity and equality, Deb celebrates the work of women and offers simple solutions to seemingly complex financial issues.

Sheila Anderson
Sheila is a banker with Chase Bank and is charged in her position with assisting customers and communities in overcoming generational wealth gaps. She provides classes through the Urban League and other places on handling personal finances.

Kibwe Cooper
Kibwe is the creator of the Empower You podcast about entrepreneurship. He has special knowledge of marketing and social media.


Save the date for our upcoming Diversity Dialogue:

Disparities in Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Support
September 15th   12 - 1:30 p.m.
Allen County Public Library, Main Branch
Meeting Room AB


In February, for Black History Month, YWCA Northeast Indiana convened a panel of organizations that have worked towards racial justice and equity locally to discuss what has been done, and what needs to be done, and how people can engage. Join us for a panel discussion, Q&A time, and suggestions for action steps we can all take.

Watch the recording of the event here!