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Sarah McLellan Recognized as a ’30 Under 30’ YMCA Leader

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Congratulations to Sarah McLellan, who has been selected from more than 230 nominees from 80 associations for the first class of ’30 Under 30’ YMCA leaders honored by the YMCA's Emerging Leaders Resource Network.

As a 26-year-old female on the leadership team of a primarily male-led association, Sarah is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion at every level. In sharing stories of scholarship recipients, highlighting staff in the newsletter and designing promotional materials, Sarah focuses on representing all members equally to ensure that new potential members, donors, and volunteers know they will be accepted and can thrive at the Y, as they are. After attending the EMLE Regional Conference in Charlotte recently, Sarah prepared a set of top priorities to focus on to help empower the emerging leaders at all levels. Sarah’s CEO trusts her to run with some of these initiatives, her first of which will be working with several interested board members to identify and begin engaging a more diverse pipeline of future board members.

Commitment to the Y

Sarah joined the YMCA in October of 2016, focusing on developing a culture of philanthropy at her three branches. Historically, her Association has not developed a strategic plan centered on fundraising; therefore, her first task was to do just that. Currently, Sarah and her team are in the silent phase of a $25 million capital campaign (expanding and renovating two of her YMCAs and building a new YMCA to replace a current express facility), and are days away from finishing the Friends and Family Division (staff and board gifts).

In addition to managing the Annual Support Campaign and the capital campaign, Sarah plans all fundraising events, the Annual Meeting, sits on six strategic planning subcommittees (ranging from combating substance use to compiling and sharing Y stories), organizes and hosts board orientation and education sessions biannually, and assists with community engagement events (5Ks, Healthy Kids Day, etc.). Sarah shares marketing responsibilities with her Senior Director of Membership and Marketing and handles all campaign-focused marketing, as well as manages media contacts and press releases.

Commitment to the Community

By providing transformational opportunities to families and individuals through financial assistance, Sarah’s work has a positive impact on the community. Whether it’s partnering with other community organizations to offer YMCA benefits to those unable to access the branches, or working to widely publicize the financial assistance to communities that previously did not know about it, Sarah prioritizes reaching out beyond her Y’s members to bring the Y to the communities that need it most. Beyond the naturally community-focused nature of her role, Sarah focuses on educating the community about the YMCA as a cause-driven organization. Sarah plans visits for her CEO to meet with local civic organizations, writes and shares press releases and develops web and social media content to communicate the mission in everything she does.