Emerging Leaders Alliance: 5 Questions with Thomas Starks, Jr.

October 31st, 2017

Thomas Starks Jr., 22, works as a Life-Marketing Consultant at Ash Brokerage in downtown Fort Wayne after graduating from Spring Arbor University where he majored in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship. He is enjoying his first year as an ELA member.

As an emerging leader who are you? 

I see myself as someone that can be a voice of the younger generation. Things are possible if we work hard and put effort into it. People may have fear about things out of our reach but if we see something that we want for ourselves or our region, we have to put forth the effort for it to be attainable.

What counties have you lived in?

I have lived in Allen County my entire life. I grew up on the south side of Fort Wayne and graduated from Concordia High School. I have a lot of passion for the south side of Fort Wayne. This area doesn't always get shown in the best light. I think that southeast Fort Wayne doesn't often experience some of the opportunities that other areas do. I think it comes from fear and past experiences about this area. Without trying or having opportunity there can be no growth. There are enough passionate individuals that can see through real change in southeast Fort Wayne. Let's focus on all areas of Fort Wayne instead of just parts of it. I believe that doing this will attract more individuals of all cultures into our beautiful city.

What do you love about Northeast Indiana?

I love seeing the growth that is going on in Northeast Indiana. When I was in college, I was looking for opportunities elsewhere instead of coming back to Fort Wayne. My senior year of college, I had an opportunity to start my career in Atlanta, Georgia. I was full force in pursuit of this until someone at Ash Brokerage presented me with an opportunity to be a part of Fort Wayne in a way I hadn't before. I love every minute of being back home. With all of the projects, goals, and efforts that Northeast Indiana is working on, it will attract a lot of talented individuals and millennials.

What would you like to see in Northeast Indiana in the future?

I want to see more young individuals wanting to come here or stay here. Many of my friends have left and don't plan on coming back soon. I want to see more goal-oriented individuals come to Fort Wayne and stay. The Regional Partnership inbound field trip that brought young individuals to the city last month, is a perfect example of this. When those students came to Fort Wayne, we surrounded them with opportunity that spoke to them and connected to them. If we show that there is no limit to opportunity here in Northeast Indiana then we will have more people returning and never leaving in the first place. It's why I came back. I was shown that opportunity.

What is something that you have done in Northeast Indiana that you never expected to do?

Joining the ELA has been a big opportunity for me. It has been one of the best things I have done to connect with other young leaders in our region. I get to see things going on in our city that not everyone gets to have the opportunity to see and experience.

by Stephen J. Bailey for the Emerging Leaders Alliance, a program of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

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