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Year Up Names Ellen McClain as Next CEO and President

Jul 16, 2024

Year Up Founder Gerald Chertavian photographed with new President and CEO Ellen McClain

Formerly President of Year Up, McClain will succeed Year Up Founder Gerald Chertavian, who will serve as Senior Advisor to Year Up

Boston, MA (PR Newswire) October 17, 2023 – The national workforce development organization Year Up announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Year Up President Ellen McClain as CEO, effective December 1, 2023. Gerald Chertavian, who founded Year Up in 2000 and has since served as its CEO, will transition to a Senior Advisor role for an initial term of one year, and remain on the National Board.

The appointment follows a thorough succession planning process conducted by the Board in partnership with Chertavian over the past three years, with the mandate to select an experienced leader who could implement the next phase of Year Up’s impact strategy.

“Over the past eight years, the Board has spent considerable time with Ellen and we have been continually impressed by her extraordinary leadership, integrity, and decisiveness, as well as by her focus on what constitutes excellence in providing pathways to opportunity for young adults,” said Paul Edgerley, Year Up Board Chair. “At this stage, Year Up needs a CEO with deep operating experience to move from vision to execution at scale. Our thorough assessment and interview process recognized Ellen’s proven track record as a leader, and confirmed that she is the optimal choice for CEO.”

McClain joined Year Up in 2015 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) from 2021 to 2022, when she became Year Up’s President. In that time, she helped navigate the organization through the pandemic and through double-digit growth in the number of students served by Year Up annually.

“Supporting young people who choose to believe in life’s possibilities to access good jobs and a promising career at such a pivotal point in their lives is a tremendous privilege,” said McClain. “As Year Up’s CEO and President, these connections to students will remain my inspiration as I continue to advance our strategic goals, with an emphasis on people, culture and staying true to our high expectations, high support ethos.”

In his role as Founder and Senior Advisor to Year Up, Chertavian will focus his efforts on stewarding corporate partner and investor relationships. Starting in January 2024, he will also teach a course at Harvard Business School on solving social problems through systems change. 

“This is a critical time in workforce development. Even as companies increasingly shift to skills-based hiring, many are realizing they don’t have the systems and processes in place to recruit skilled, career-ready talent,” said Chertavian. “Ellen has the judgement and expertise to position Year Up as a proven platform for connecting employers with the talent they need — talent that better represents the communities they serve and ensures a broad range of perspectives to drive innovation.”

Prior to joining Year Up, McClain gained extensive professional management experience as a CFO and COO at companies in various stages of development, including a rapidly growing television station group and a mature sports and gaming enterprise.

Nationwide, 80 percent of Year Up graduates are employed or attending college within four months of completing the program, with average starting salaries of $52,000/year. In May 2022, the federally-sponsored Pathways for Advancing Careers and Education (PACE) follow-up evaluation of Year Up showed that in the six years post-program, young adults randomly assigned to Year Up earned 30 percent more compared with similar young adults in a control group — the largest impact on earnings reported to date for a workforce program tested in a randomized controlled trial.