Fort Wayne, IN January 7, 2022 – The 2022 Arts United Awards, presented by Ruoff Mortgage, is Northeast Indiana’s premier celebration of the people, organizations, and businesses that make significant contributions through arts and culture to communities throughout the 12-county region of Northeast Indiana that includes Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Miami, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley counties. This year’s celebration will be a televised broadcast in partnership with Fort Wayne’s NBC to feature the 2022 award recipients on January 22, 2022 at 7pm.


The 2022 Arts United Award recipients are:


Chris Ford

Chris Ford has been a gospel music influencer in Fort Wayne for over three decades as a singer, songwriter, choir director, and producer. Over the years, Chris has had the great fortune of ministering alongside gospel music greats and international evangelists such as Marvin Sapp, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, Mavin Winans, and Ricky Dillard. Additionally, he has written, vocally arranged, and produced on a variety of albums. With his Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership & Supervision from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Chris has mastered the ability to lead groups of any size and achieve any and all desired outcomes. From the local church to Fortune 500 Companies, Chris has received numerous awards and accolades for his leadership training and development.


Greg Mendez

Born in 1981, Greg was raised in the rural town of Decatur. He studied at the University of Saint Francis School of Creative Arts in Fort Wayne, graduating with a B.F.A. in Sculpture. Greg’s sculptures have been included in many juried public displays throughout the United States, and he has been the recipient of numerous awards. In addition to permanently placed public works and commissions, he also participates in community development by promoting public art on a local level.


Carolyn Meyer and Karissa Kalb

The Parkview Healing Arts Program is a collaboration between Parkview and Fort Wayne Dance Collective that allows Parkview to integrate arts programming into their services to promote healing and combat compassion fatigue for both patients and their caregivers. In 2020, Parkview Healing Arts Program artists were directly affected due to the hospital’s COVID protocols, creating a need to reimagine the program. Parkview Health employee Karissa Kalb worked with Fort Wayne Dance Collective’s Artistic Director Mandie Kolkman to distribute artwork to more than 18 units/areas in Parkview Regional Medical Center, more than 11 at Randalia, and patients of all ages at Parkview Behavioral Health. Karissa volunteered her free time to come to the Fort Wayne Dance Collective once or twice a month to pick up all tangible art items. Over the course of the month, she would help oversee the delivery and use of these art kits and gifts to those in need.


After a few weeks, Karissa and the Healing Arts team received an additional helper. Carolyn Meyer, Holistic Response Team Coordinator and Parkview employee for over 25 years, joined the cause. Together, Karissa and Carolyn would coordinate unloading cars full of supplies, art kits, and tangible art gifts. These two women, and other helpers from the holistic team, went room to room, floor to floor, and office to office to engage patients and caregivers in meaningful art conversations to change the trajectory of their day.


Sheila Moore and Jomare Bowers-Mizzell

Sheila Moore and Jomare Bowers-Mizzell have worked as a team through Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Iota Chi Omega Chapter to create unique visual art experiences for underserved youth on the southside of Fort Wayne at the Euell Wilson Center and the Albert Jennings Recreational Center. The Summer Arts Academy started in July 2019 at the Jennings Center, focusing on visual arts and their impact. 


In July 2020, the Summer Arts Academy focused on the history of the Black Arts Movement. 

Due to the pandemic, the plans were altered and a Virtual Arts Academy was created, “The Arts: Salute to the Harlem Renaissance Black Arts Movement.” Students ages 9 – 14 were given art packets and supplies to follow each art lesson, drawing characters and basic techniques, pastels and color design, watercolor techniques and acrylic painting techniques while watching and listening to art instructors that was videotaped on a flash drive.


Ms. Moore and Ms. Mizzell also created the gifts, decorations, flowers, centerpieces, souvenirs and layout for Elders at the Juneteenth Elders Celebration on June 13, 2021.


Leah Reeder
A Fort Wayne resident for many years, Leah Reeder has been an art practitioner and advocate for much longer. Leah has been active with several organizations in Fort Wayne such as ARCH, Artlink, the African/African-American Historical Society, AIM (Association of Indiana Museums), Central YMCA, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Martin Luther King Club and Southern Heights Baptist Church. Currently, she is the Registrar at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and Board Chairman for the African/African-American Historical Society.


Zynette Paige

Zynette Paige has spent her 23 years with the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department at Weisser Park Youth Center creating experiences and opportunities for the community. After 16 years playing an essential role in the Annual Community Juneteenth Celebration, this year she passed the torch and actively guided the Fort Wayne Juneteenth Collaborative in facilitating a seven-day Community Juneteenth Celebration, highlighting African-American history and culture, and giving artists throughout the city and region a platform. This and other free community events at the Youth Center allow the Fort Wayne community to experience African, African-American, and African Caribbean art, history, and culture in the form of music, poetry, dance, film, theatre, visual and graphic arts, fashion, and more. She was inspired to create the concept and curriculum outline for Weisser Park Youth Center Maat Youth Group Harlem Renaissance Experience, resulting in a CD of original youth poetry, songs, and music. She was also essential in the completion of a second production, The Middle Passage Experience book and CD of original youth poetry, songs, and music.



Bryan Ballinger – Margaret Ann Keegan Award for Arts Education

Bryan graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a degree in Illustration, and has a master’s degree in Writing for Children from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. After moving to Seattle and doing freelance work for companies such as Nintendo Power magazine, he started working at Microsoft as an illustrator. He led illustration for the first version of the award-winning Encarta CD-ROM encyclopedia and the Explorapedia children’s encyclopedia series, and he was the 3D Design Lead for 5 years at Big Idea Productions, the producers of the VeggieTales children’s videos. Bryan was also a professor of Digital Media Arts at Huntington University in Indiana for 16 years. Currently, Bryan is a full-time

muralist, primarily in the Northeast part of Indiana and does illustration for children’s books, websites, games, videos, and ads.


Dorothy Kittaka – Mayor’s Arts Award

Dorothy Kittaka’s impact in the arts and arts education in the Fort Wayne community began in her career as a Music Teacher at Haverhill Elementary. With fellow teacher Mike Schmid, she co-founded the Foundation for Art and Music in Education (FAME), which provides elementary and middle school students with special opportunities outside of school to create, exhibit, and perform works of art. In 1999, Dorothy was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Since, she has continued to serve on arts organization boards, co-founded the Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival, is Former President of Fort Wayne Sister Cities, has sung with the Philharmonic Chorus, and has performed as a soloist with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Dorothy currently serves as an Emeritus Board Member for Heartland Sings, and sings with the Bach Collegium.


Daniel Reuning – Lifetime Achievement Award

For 31 years, Rev. Dr. Daniel Reuning served Concordia Theological Seminary. After his retirement, he founded The Bach Collegium and has served as its artistic director since 2002. The Bach Collegium is an early music choral and instrumental ensemble, focused on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and the use of period instruments and adherence to period performance practices. Since 1987, Rev. Dr. Daniel Reuning also has been Kantor at Redeemer Lutheran Church. 


Condra Ridley – Lifetime Achievement Award

Condra Ridley began working for Allen County Public Library where she was able to share her love of books, reading, and African & African-American history and culture with children and their families for 28 years. While Condra was manager of Pontiac Branch Library, she became a promoter of adult literacy by offering the “Each One Reach/Teach One” program in collaboration with the Literacy Alliance. In 1997, Condra was appointed Youth Services Specialist and delighted in early literacy advocacy, storytelling, and presenting book-related programs to children in schools, preschools, daycare centers, and youth facilities all around Northeast Indiana for 12 years.  She also designed and presented a weekly children’s show on Access Fort Wayne called “The Roving Reader,” which offered books being read aloud, visits to many library branches to experience their enriching activities, and introductions of local authors and artists.  In August 2008, King Adetunji David Ajayi of Ekiti, Nigeria honored Condra and four other community servants with the title of Chief for their contributions toward building better relations between cultures in Fort Wayne and abroad.


Tune into the program on Fort Wayne’s NBC on January 22, 2022 at 7pm as we celebrate the accomplishments of our recipients. For more information about the Arts United Awards, visit