I was born in Bluffton, Indiana to Dr. BK and Patti Poindexter with three other siblings. I attended Hillsdale College and graduated in 1989. I have a Bachelors of Arts degree with a major in communications, minor in business. Following my graduation I attended Oxford University in Oxford, England through Keeble College and studied the complete works of Shakespeare in old English. I was also the Vice President Patti Inc. d/b/a Subway Salad’s and Sandwiches a family business from 1985 to 1988. In 1990 I became the first full time field officer for Wells County Community Corrections Department. In 1993 I was promoted to be the first full time Executive Director of Agency where I am currently still enjoying working for my community.
I am married to Lauriean Poindexter who has a Master’s of Science and Education She teaches special education at Bluffton Middle School. Lauriean and I have a daughter Chelsea. I have always been active in my community from such organizations as Wells Community Boys & Girls Club, Pano’s Free Clinic, and United Way of Wells County, Citizens Against Drug Abuse, and several other service organizations.
I have always had a concern with how the children, their families and our community find the resources for living a safer and better life. That is why I am so proud to be a part of the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation to assure that we can find new and more creative response’s to the children for their future and ours.
Byron R. Braun
Byron is a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School, and Indiana University. He is married to Linn since 1982 and they have three children Cameron, Carson, and Meredith.
Byron is president of Braun Wealth Management Group, LLC. Other community associations include the Fort Wayne Museum of Art Board of Trustees, Investment Committee Chairman at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, founding member of the Fort Wayne chapter of Legatus, and a lifetime member of the Indiana University Alumni Association.
Byron enjoys public speaking, playing tennis, fishing, and enjoying fine wine.
Byron is co-founder of the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation currently serving as chairman. Byron believes it is up to the private sector to help fund the ever diminishing gap of resources available for agencies in general and in particular agencies helping to prevent child abuse. It is his core belief the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation is a proactive advocate for children helping those in abusive situations. Even if we save one child it is worth all of our efforts here at the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation.
Brian Witwer grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana, and he is a member of the first graduating class of Penn High School. He graduated from Butler University (B.A.) where he met his wife Sally Gelow from Fort Wayne. They moved to Chicago where Brian completed his M. Div degree at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary (Northwestern University). He was ordained an Elder (Pastor) in the United Methodist Church and has served five churches in Indiana, including two in Fort Wayne. In 1980, he completed doctoral studies (D. Min) at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
In April of 2006, he became the Northeast Regional Director of the Center for Congregations, a Lilly Endowment funded non-profit agency providing educational opportunities, grants, and resource consulting for religious congregations of all kinds in Indiana. He retired in 2014. The Witwers have two married children and one grand-daughter. They enjoy traveling, reading, gardening, and many interesting friends.
Dr. Witwer serves as the Children's Foundation Grants Chairperson.
Secretary/ Event Chairwoman
Michelle Straessle is a dedicated mother of four with a passion for service and volunteering. She not only volunteered for each of her children from elementary to high school but has been with the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation since 2012. And has been their secretary since completing her first year on the board.
In 2014, Michelle competed in Dancing with the Fort Wayne Stars in order to raise money for the Carriage House and joined the board to help with the yearly fundraiser. She ran for Women of the Year for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in 2016 and found herself on their board as well. Michelle is also a board member for Project Ballet, formerly known as New American Youth Ballet and Conservatory. Lastly, she volunteered as a choreographer for Haverhill Elementary Dinner Theater from 2006-2017.
Jeslynn C. Smith
Jeslynn C. Smith is a long-time resident of Bluffton and attended Norwell High School. She graduated from International Business College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business with a Paralegal Major. Jeslynn also graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan in January 2013. She was admitted to the Indiana Bar in May 2013, and she was also admitted to practice in the Federal District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Indiana. Mrs. Smith practices in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration, and guardianships.
Jeslynn currently serves as the Secretary of the Indiana Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Wells County Board of Junior Achievement, and volunteers for Teen Court in Wells County. Jeslynn is the Communications Chairwoman of the Fort Wayne Children's Foundation.