Lifelong Marion resident, Dawn Darga, was born in 1966. Her parents took over the popular “Bob Rogers” gift shop for about 20 years, and she got to know the community while helping run the store. She graduated from Marion High School, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1989 with a double-major in Art Communication and Art Education K‑12, and minor in Art History. After college she worked for a couple marketing firms in Fort Wayne, but soon became focused on being close to family and community. Dawn lost her mother at a young age.
After marrying her husband, Doug Darga, in 1990, she pursued a career in marketing working for a local photographer, and aimed to give back to the community, focusing on the arts. She joined the Community School of the Arts’ board in the school’s infant stages and marketed for them for about 14 years.
Dawn later started her own hands-on design & marketing business, Designs Group, and became a downtown stakeholder. While operating her business, she gave back to the community by giving of her marketing skills whenever possible. Over the years, she has created branding for attractions including the Splash House, Friendship Corner, The Garden House, the Meadow, and much more, as a service to the community.
Dawn and seven other individuals showing passion for the Gardens of Matter Park started “Friends of the Gardens,” a charitable organization which developed endowment and pass-through funds to go toward the Gardens. To this day, she still serves with “FOG” whose main goal is to sustain the Gardens through fundraising as well as provide family-friendly events to the community. They put on many arts & entertainment events throughout the year, provide an educational series, and hold fundraisers.
Dawn has also served on the Run for Freedom board (5 years), Marion Aquatic Club (5 years), and provided MCS’s Asherwoods with pro bono marketing and promotions (9 years).
Dawn continues to champion to promote the arts in Marion. “We have it all right here…we just have to believe in it. I’m still inspired by the Gardens and encouraged by visitors’ compliments. Things are also starting to change downtown, and we’re getting on the right page. I believe this is where our home is, so we should put all of our energy here.”