March 10, 2023 - Mayor Tom Henry and Fort Wayne UNITED announced today that Executive Director Iric Headley has transitioned to the position of Fort Wayne UNITED Steering Committee Co-Chair after accepting a leadership position with Surack Enterprises. Gregg Smith-Causey, Fort Wayne UNITED’s Program Manager for the last three years, will serve as the Interim Executive Director until a new director is chosen. The Fort Wayne UNITED Steering Committee has put together a transition team to lead a national search for the new Fort Wayne UNITED Executive Director. The Fort Wayne UNITED Executive Director position is posted on the City of Fort Wayne website under “Employment Opportunities.”
Since its launch in 2016, with the leadership of Mayor Henry and Headley, Fort Wayne UNITED has brought together a group of passionate and committed leaders to engage, educate, and empower young Black men and boys in our community in an effort to make positive change one individual at a time. There are now over ten on-going, successful Fort Wayne UNITED programs and initiatives, including:
- Ten Point Coalition: A boots-on-the-ground approach to improving neighborhood safety, pride and overall health through direct neighborhood engagement, promotion of peace and connecting residents to life changing resources. One year after the launch of the Ten Point Coalition in the Oxford neighborhood, data showed that violent crime and property crime had decreased in the Ten Point Coalition area. Rape decreased by 77%, aggravated assault decreased by 65%, robbery decreased by 62%, burglary decreased by 31%, larceny decreased by 12% and motor vehicle theft decreased by 28%. Most importantly, there were no homicides in the population of focus--Black males ages 14-25.
- United Front: This initiative was rolled out in September 2020, during the peak of local racial tension and civil unrest, to provide a safe environment for leaders from all walks of life to learn a shared humanity, a common language and philosophy that changes the trajectory of our community for generations to come through a comprehensive cultural competency program that fosters racial equity, healing and unity. Engaging educational sessions have been offered to organizational leaders and businesses, empowering them with common language, values, and strategic steps that help them to effectively assess their environments, and implement interventions that will enhance their inclusive cultures, motivating people to work together toward community shared goals.
- Late Night Basketball: A Saturday night program, which provides young Black males with a safe place during the time that violent crime statistically happens most. Participants are invited to play basketball, engage with local leaders both on and off the court, and take advantage of opportunities like on-site soft skills training, employment assistance and health screenings.
- Friday Tie Day: Participating students and school administrators wear ties donated by local community leaders, helping them to enhance their internal and external self-image. While these young leaders meet weekly in peer group settings to have dialog around issues that impact them most, they are also assigned a community leader to meet with regularly in order to establish a trusting relationship through one-on-one conversations, job shadowing, and leisure activities. Community leaders are charged with helping young men build character, perseverance and a strong desire to be successful, responsible, and caring adults.
“We’ve always been a community committed to building each other up, and that has been even more evident throughout the last few years after the launch of our nationally-recognized Fort Wayne UNITED initiative. We’re improving the lives of all residents, and Fort Wayne UNITED has helped us to have a specific focus on young Black men and boys,” said Mayor Henry. “Under Iric’s direction, Fort Wayne UNITED was built with a group of our City’s leaders, and we’ve been able to see positive results and lives have been changed for the better. We are grateful that Iric will remain engaged in Fort Wayne UNITED, and I’m also looking forward to welcoming Gregg to a new leadership position and am confident that he’ll be able to continue to direct the program’s mission and vision. Trust, respect, and demonstrating that we truly care about people of color are the cornerstones of Fort Wayne UNITED, its programs and initiatives.”
“I am thankful for the foundation that Iric has laid and extremely excited for the opportunity to serve with Mayor Henry to advocate for the success of Black males who call Fort Wayne their home,” said Gregg Smith-Causey.
“It has truly been an honor to serve under the leadership of Mayor Henry as the Fort Wayne UNITED Director, advocating, dreaming and building foundational framework for a community that we can thrive in,” said Iric Headley. “I am also grateful to be able to stay engaged in this important work, just from a different seat.”
Fort Wayne UNITED is a Mayoral initiative that places two national efforts, Cities United and My Brother's Keeper, under one umbrella. It is designed to answer the call to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy and help create a safer city for all, but more specifically for black men and boys. By bringing together a group of passionate and committed leaders, the initiative will educate, inform and engage the community in an effort to make positive change one neighborhood at a time.
Fort Wayne UNITED’s vision is for every Black male in Fort Wayne to be respected and valued with an opportunity to reach their full potential. The mission is to advocate for and implement policies, practices and procedures to ensure equity and opportunity for black fathers, brothers and sons at home, work, school, and the community through collaborative efforts.