CEO & President, Year Up

Ellen McClain

Ellen McClain is Chief Executive Officer and President of Year Up, a national workforce development organization committed to ensuring equitable access to economic opportunity, education, and justice for all young adults. With an annual operating budget of more than $170M, Year Up is one of the fastest growing non-profits in the nation. It has been recognized by Fast Company and The Monitor Group as one of the top 25 organizations using business excellence to engineer social change. Year Up has also been recognized consistently as one of the nation's top 50 non-profits to work for by the Non-Profit Times.

Ellen first joined Year Up in 2015 as Chief Financial Officer. In 2021, she became the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, and in 2022, she was elected to serve as Year Up’s President. In late 2023, Ellen was appointed by Year Up’s National Board of Directors to serve as the organization’s next Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Year Up’s Founder Gerald Chertavian. 

Over the course of her time at Year Up, Ellen has applied deep executive leadership skills to help the organization successfully navigate double-digit growth in students served, sustain itself through a pandemic, and advance a mission-aligned diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging practice – an initiative rooted in her ongoing commitment to creating an environment where Year Up employees, students and alumni are seen, heard, and respected for all aspects of their identity. 

As CEO, Ellen’s strategic priority is to provide significantly greater access to economic mobility for young adults and impact employment systems that perpetuate the Opportunity Divide, including by leveraging Year Up's deep relationships to connect and collaborate within a broad ecosystem of training providers, community colleges, workforce coalitions, and others.

Prior to joining Year Up and the non-profit industry, Ellen gained extensive professional management experience as a CFO, COO, and President at companies in various stages of development and across multiple industries, including media, sports, and gaming. Ellen began her career at Bank of New England, N.A. in 1986 as an analyst and lender to radio, television and cable companies. In 1993, she joined Granite Broadcasting Corporation and served as SVP and Chief Financial Officer for over 10 years before joining Hearst-Argyle Television in 2004 as VP of Finance. In 2009, Ellen joined the New York Racing Association as SVP and Chief Financial Officer and in 2011, she was promoted to Chief Operating Officer, then President, becoming both the first woman and the first African-American to serve in the role at the company.

Ellen earned a B.A. in Economics from Brown University in 1986 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1993. She has earned numerous awards, including Network Business Journal’s 25 Influential Black Women in Business (2012), Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 List (2013), and WomenInc. Magazine’s Most Influential Corporate Board Directors (2019, 2023). Ellen currently serves on the Board of Crane Company, an aerospace, electronics and process flow technology manufacturer, and Crane NXT, a leading provider of trusted secure, detect and authenticate technology solutions. 

A native of suburban Boston and proud parent of two children, Ellen currently resides in New York City with her husband.