When Devon Corlew stepped into the role, she quickly recognized the enormous challenges in becoming the newest executive director of the South Pasadena San Marino YMCA.
If running an operation known for its core values of caring, honesty, respect, inclusion and responsibility wasn’t difficult enough, Corlew was asked to perform the task during a global pandemic.
“With the majority of our operations halted due to the restrictions, the transition has been anything but typical,” she explained, taking on her newest professional career move with an open mind. “However, I believe that this pandemic has given the YMCA an opportunity to look at ourselves differently than before.”
While the local Y offers fitness classes, swim lessons, and youth sports, Corlew insists, “We do all of that to build relationships and strengthen the foundations of our community. During the pandemic, we aren’t able to offer everything like before. But the Y is still here for community.”
Guiding that believe is a woman who has been with the YMCA for more than 15 years. In college, while getting her degree in business administration, Corlew knew she wanted a career that made a difference. “I didn’t grow up in the Y like so many Y staff have,” she said. “When I discovered a job opportunity with the Y and learned more about the amazing work that the Y has done for so many years, I felt that I belonged.”
Her first assignment was with the Los Angeles YMCA association corporate office, which gave her the foundation on how the organization operates. “I’ve also had roles at the Antelope Valley YMCA in Lancaster when their new building opened up, and at the Culver-Palms Family YMCA where I was most recently executive director.”
Corlew, who also oversees the Pasadena-Sierra Madre Y, is settling in at the South Pasadena San Marino branch after six months on the job. “I think I’m a good fit for this role because I’m an empathetic leader who loves learning about what makes each community unique,” she said. “Stepping into a new branch, I see my role as building upon what those before me have built. This YMCA has had some terrific leaders in the past (including Alan Hostrup who is now our CEO), so I feel fortunate that it has been in good hands for many years. Taking those successes and also working alongside a dynamic and commitment board of managers, I see great things ahead for our Y.”
It’s no secret the coronavirus outbreak has caused severe consequences for the economy, and the South Pasadena San Marino YMCA is among businesses feeling the brunt as Corlew was forced to furlough nearly 100 members of her team. “Our staff are dear to us,” she said. “As we continue to reintroduce community service programming we’re able to bring our precious staff back. Our staff loves what they do and are committed to providing a high quality and authentic experience to all who interact with our Y.”
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Corlew moved south to attend Biola University in La Mirada where she earned her bachelors degree in business administration management. She furthered her education at Cal State University Bakersfield, picking up a masters in science administration.
Corlew resides in Valencia with my husband, Blaine, who grew up in the Pasadena area, and 10-year-old daughter, Lily. In COVID-free times, away from the office, there’s a good chance you’ll find them in Anaheim for a day at Disneyland. “My family and I are big Disney fans and love heading to the park, and can’t wait to do so again,” she said. “We also love finding local restaurants and coffee shops and immersing ourselves into fun, new communities.”
Nurturing the potential of everyone who walks through its doors, the YMCA is recognized for its focus on healthy living, social responsibility and youth development as the nonprofit continues to give back, enhancing the wellbeing of others.
Those with long ties to the Y, like Corlew, believe that through the creation of spaces, people of all ages and backgrounds can come together, connect and make a difference. “As I was researching this opportunity, it became clear that this is a Y that the community has supported for many year,” she said. “There is a strong foundation here. As executive director, my role is to build upon that foundation and extend our reach even further. In conjunction with our volunteers, donors, and members, that is something that can be done successfully here. I look forward to continuing to get to know the community as we work together towards an even better future!”