BBBS Announces New President & CEO
Yolanda Armstrong, a 24-year veteran in social service administration and leadership, will begin her new role as President and Chief Executive Officer on Oct. 1, 2014. “After vetting many excellent candidates, our Board of Directors is very excited to appoint Yolanda as our new President and CEO,” said Tony Brown, Board Chair and Search Committee Chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland. “Her passion for mentoring and working with youth, coupled with her experience, energy and knowledge of our community, made her the stand-out choice.”
“Young people face a lot of adversity in their lives, and many don’t have the roadmap or resources to become productive members of our community,” said Armstrong. “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland is the flagship of mentoring. I am looking forward to leading this organization as we strive to break the harmful cycles of such issues as poverty, pregnancy and gangs through the power of mentoring.”
Armstrong herself has benefited from the impact of mentoring, having served as both a mentee and mentor. These experiences inspired her to look at mentoring with a holistic approach; how one child’s relationship with a mentor can impact the well-being of an entire family unit and furthermore, impact the community at large. She adds, “When children are told they have potential, it is life changing. Maya Angelou once said, ‘Be the rainbow in someone’s cloud.’ Our mentors are that rainbow. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland is the community resource that provides that life-long impact. I am excited to roll up my sleeves and make sure our city’s children benefit from all that Big Brothers Big Sisters has to offer them.”
A mentoring professional, Armstrong will use her background to identify goals moving forward such as building relationships, increasing recruitment, as well as building the branding and visibility of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland. Most recently, Armstrong was the Director of Community Relations and Organizational Diversity at Ohio Guidestone (formerly Berea Children’s Home and Family Services). Under her leadership, Armstrong developed marketing plans for neighborhood groups to ensure effective communication and to enhance agency visibility; plus, she developed and implemented the first minority mentoring program for staff and its leadership team. Prior to this role, Armstrong was a social worker working in juvenile justice, alcohol and drugs; fundraising and development; and outpatient counseling services.
Armstrong also served as the Executive Director of the Phillis Wheatley Association, where she was responsible for the planning, oversight, administration and direction of all agency programs.
Additionally, Armstrong was the Director of Social Services at HCR Manorcare in Mayfield Heights as well as a part-time instructor of liberal arts at Cuyahoga Community College. Armstrong’s career began at Murtis H. Taylor Multi-Services Center, where she worked with adults with mental health and chemical dependency issues. It was in that position that Armstrong realized she wanted to be able to work with kids and be there to help them break the cycle of hardships earlier in life.
In addition to her professional background, Armstrong has benefited from the positive impact of mentoring, having served as a mentor through Delta Sigma Theta’s Teen Lift Program; as a mentor and champion of the Rosie’s Girls through Hard Hatted Women; and as a mentor to the women and girls of Diamonds in the Rough Inc. Her extensive non-profit and volunteer experience includes being a member of the National Association of Social Workers, Diversity Matters, Cuyahoga County Domestic Violence Council, Mental Health Advocacy Coalition and Delta Sigma Theta Public Service Sorority. Armstrong currently serves on the Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation Board of Trustees as Special Events Chair and past Strategic Planning Chair and is a Professional Advisory Committee Member of Rogers Home Care. Armstrong was the 2011 and 2013 Event Coordinator for 100 Black Men of Greater Cleveland.
Armstrong is a past member of the National Association of Black Social Workers, MSASS Alumni Board, Ohio University Alumni Board College of Health and Human Services, and Public Relations Society of America, as well as past President of the Cleveland Chapter of National Alliance of Market Developers. In 2007, Armstrong won the Phenomenal Woman Award; in 2012 she was named to the Who’s Who list in Black Cleveland; and in 2014, Armstrong was the recipient of the Amazing Woman Award for her work in the community with youth and families.
Armstrong has a bachelor’s degree in health services administration from Ohio University and a master’s degree in social work administration from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. She also has an Emerging Leader certificate from Baldwin Wallace College. She is a resident of Beachwood, Ohio.