Ryan Krueckeberg

President of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana

He grew up on a dairy farm in Decatur right near the state line and spent a few of his formative years couch-surfing, doing freelance web development for bands in exchange for a place to stay.

When it came time for Ryan Kreukeberg to “grow up,” he headed home. It was supposed to be a short stay, one to jump-start his career before moving on to bigger and better things in a bigger — and supposedly better — city.

But a funny thing happened: Kreukeberg stayed.

The president of Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, Kreukeberg has become one of the preeminent advocates for downtown development and a supporter for the arts, getting involved in organizations like the Cinema Center and volunteering with others like Arts United. The 34-year-old Lincoln Financial employee has lived in the downtown area for 10 years, watching it change with the development of Parkview Field and The Harrison.

Now, the horror fan sits with Fort Wayne magazine for 260 seconds.

FWM: When people ask you about Fort Wayne, what do you tell them?

RK: I always make a point of telling them that if you really want to work somewhere where you can get involved and make an impact, Fort Wayne is the place to be. It’s easy to feel like you are invested in the community and have a direct impact. For example, if I lived in Chicago and I tried to get involved in the arts community, I’m not sure I’d feel like I was making as much of a difference as I can here.

FWM: What kept you here?

RK: All this development started and I got involved, mostly through Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana. It rooted me here, and now I want to stay.

FWM:  How did you get involved in arts?

RK: I’m not an artist, but I’ve always been attracted to artistic people and attracted to the arts, especially visual arts and music. Being more a logical and technical person, you can respect the arts. And technical and practical skills are very much needed in the arts community. 

FWM: Favorite horror movie?

RK: It’s still the original Hellraiser. It was the first movie to blow my mind.

FWM: Where do you see Fort Wayne in 10 years?

RK: Maybe in 10 years we’re talking less about attraction and retention because maybe we don’t need to anymore. Not that we’re not ever going to stop talking about attracting or retaining people, but hopefully it won’t be so prevalent at that point. We need to continue the progress we’ve already started and keep on track. I think until we reach that point where the city is well-developed, things can be pretty fragile. It might take the wrong city council or the wrong next mayor for all this to stop and not progress.


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