The Peggy Greer Calloway / Richard J Ridley Jr.
Trailblazer Award Scholarship

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The BLAST organization has named its multipurpose scholarship in honor of the first four year African – American graduates from Concordia High School, Peggy Greer Calloway (class of 1954) and Richard J. Ridley, Jr. (class of 1956). Mrs. Calloway and Mr. Ridley went on to serve in various capacities in the community, with Mr. Ridley eventually becoming the first Black firefighter to work on the Fort Wayne Fire Department in the 1960s. They both have created lasting legacies within their families at Concordia High School, with many of their children and grandchildren, and relatives attending the Lutheran school system and Concordia High School up through the present day.

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Our Leadership

Mike Edmonds

Michael Edmonds - President

Michael has been involved with youth and education for over 35 years in various capacities and positions. Upon entering the workforce he has held coordinator positions with the Fort Wayne Parks Department, social service agencies such as JobWorks and Indiana Workforce Development, before moving into the field of administrative education and coaching at the elementary and middle school levels with Fort Wayne Community Schools in 1995.

 

Michael’s additional career experience has been in the area of case management for at risk youth with various social service agencies such as SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect) / Wellspring Social Services / and the Youth Services Bureau of the YMCA. He has volunteered  with the Young Scholars Academy (YSA) at Purdue Fort Wayne for both screening and mentoring middle and high school students for college preparation and planning.

 

Michael currently serves as vice chair of the Impact Community Center at New Covenant Worship Center and helps with other ministries within the church. He is married to his wife Lynn and has 4 daughters, with the youngest two currently attending college.

Leila Randle

Leila Ford-Randle - Web Designer

Leila earned an M.B.A from Indiana University in Management Information Systems and began her career as a systems analyst in the business sector. When the demand in the industry became certification-driven, she sought opportunities to expand her knowledge in the higher education environment.

Leila transitioned to an adjunct instructor at Ivy Tech in their computer department. After five years of teaching business and computer courses, she changed her career focus and decided to go back to school to get additional education to learn about course development. After receiving an Instructional Systems Technology Certification at Indiana University, Leila took a job as an Online Instructional Designer at Indiana University – eLearning and Design (eDS) department. 

Hobbies include volunteering at the radio station – WFHB, 91.3FM in Bloomington, Indiana, for Bring it On, Indiana’s only weekly radio program committed to exploring the people, issues, and events impacting the African-American community; traveling, and reading.

Tom Essex

Thomas Essex - Vice President

Thomas earned a BA Degree in Political Science and History from Concordia University-Chicago and obtained a Law Degree from Indiana University-Bloomington.  He entered into politics and elected to two terms as Wayne Township Trustee and developed programs designed to empower low income families in the areas of shelter, food, employment and education.  During his term Wayne Township was named the top township in the State of Indiana. After leaving politics, he accepted a position as Deputy Prosecutor for Allen County where he represented the State of Indiana in criminal cases within the county. In 2003 he began his private legal practice by opening the Law Firm of Thomas Essex Jr. Attorney at Law. His practice specialize in the area of Criminal Law, Family Law and Litigation. He also works part time as a Deputy Public Defender for the Allen County Public Defender’s Office working with low income individuals to receive legal representation. 
 

Thomas spend his free time enjoying bowling, classic movies and spending time with his family. 

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Marti L. Wright - Media Relations

Marti worked as a news reporter at WMEE-WQHK, Fort Wayne from March of 1980-September of 1981.

Marti was hired as a general assignment reporter for WPTA-TV, 21 Alive.

Throughout her nearly 20 years at 21 Alive, Marti worked her way up in the organization, serving as Weekend anchor/reporter until 1987,

when she was promoted as the first African American prime time news anchor in Fort Wayne.

 

During her years at Channel 21, Marti served the Fort Wayne Community in several capacities.

She was a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the American Heart Association,

Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the Fort Wayne Ballet.

Contributing Members

Clydia Early

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Clydia is a serial entrepreneur dedicated to family and bringing education, engagement, and empowerment to her community. 
An aspiring Developer and Motivational Speaker, Clydia is about being the change she wants to see in the world today. 
She is honored to play a small part in creating this timely and much-needed scholarship.

Burton Hill

Burton Hill

​Burton earned a BS Degree in Accounting from Indiana University (Fort Wayne) and launched his career at General Electric Co. as Finance Management Program (FMP) enrollee and held various positions at GE in the Accounting and Finance function. Burton went on to hold Finance and Accounting
leadership positions including Plant Controller, Shared Services Manager, Corporate Controller, Manager
of Finance, and others in various manufacturing industries.

Burton transitioned to Big 4 consulting in
the role of Senior Manager at Capgemini, then moving to the Oil & Gas sector where he held roles in Downstream Finance, Corporate and Functions, and Upstream Global Supply Chain. Later Burton
returned to the Shared Services space where he held roles as Director, Shared Services, and currently functions as Executive Director, Global Business Services for a Building Solutions manufacturer.

His hobbies include exercise and fitness, mentoring and career coaching, domestic and international travel, music, movies, and reading. 

Glenda Walker

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​​Glenda has dedicated over 15 years advising and providing support to students in higher education and high school. Prior to her retirement in May 2021, she was with Vincennes University with the Early College Program. As the Director for the program, she worked with high school students in earning up to an Associates Degree while attending high school. Glenda counseled students on dual credits, scholarships, and financial aid.

Before joining the team at Vincennes University, Glenda worked with Commission for Higher Education with the state of Indiana. She was the Director for Northeast Indiana and with her staff, provided college and career workshops for parents and students along with the opportunity for 4-year scholarships to Indiana State Colleges and Universities.

 

Glenda has enjoyed her career working with students and parents presenting college and career opportunities. She now is enjoying her retirement spending time with family, friends, and grandchildren.

Patricia Wilson

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Patricia A. Wilson was named associate dean of Baylor Law in 2021 and has been a member of the Baylor Law faculty since 1993. During that time, she has taught courses on Employment Discrimination, Employment Relations, Labor Law, Family Law, and Property. She taught the first year Property course for 12 years, and she has also taught courses on Antitrust, Intellectual Property, Consumer Protection, and Legal Writing. Before joining the Baylor Law Faculty, she practiced law for seven years, including four years with American Airlines, Inc.

 

Family Law is of particular importance to Dean Wilson. In addition to raising two children of their own, she and her husband, Michael Jones, have fostered more than twenty children over the past two decades and adopted two children in the process. This immersion in the foster care system has given Wilson has a clearer understanding than most of the complexities of family law. Wilson is a trained mediator and she is actively involved in the Waco community serving on the boards of a number of local nonprofit organizations.

Dean Wilson earned her undergraduate degree from Purdue University (B.A., 1982, Sociology), graduating With Distinction. She received her law degree from Northwestern University School of Law (J.D., 1985).