TalentRise Recruits CEO for the YWCA of Western New York

March 1, 2024 – Following a rigorous, nationwide search, TalentRise recently assisted in the recruitment of Michelle Sawyers as the new CEO of the YWCA of Western New York (YWCA WNY). Current CEO, Jill Ann Robbins-Jabine, is retiring after nearly 10 years of service.Michelle’s extensive experience in nonprofit operations—coupled with her leadership acumen, community involvement, and ability to build partnerships—makes her the ideal person to further YWCA WNY’s mission,” said Pete Petrella, TalentRise practice leader, who led the assignment.

“We are confident that under Michelle’s leadership and guidance, the future of YWCA WNY is bright and well-focused to continue its mission and serving its community,” said Jessica Copeland, YWCA board chair. “We thank Jill for her decade of service to the organization and wish her the best in her retirement.”

In her most recent role, Ms. Sawyers served as chief program officer of the Buffalo Urban League, where she oversaw the organization’s housing services, youth education services, and community, economic, and workforce development initiatives. She began her career in higher education, supporting Erie Community College’s workforce development efforts and working in admissions/advising and student services at SUNY Buffalo State. Her professional experience also includes roles at the Service Collaborative of Western New York, Medaille University, Say Yes to Education, and Hillside Family of Agencies.

“I am honored to be selected as the new CEO of YWCA WNY and look forward to taking over the reins,” said Ms. Sawyers. “I have dedicated my career to positively impacting our community and am grateful for the opportunity to lead an organization focused on eliminating racism, empowering women, serving others, and advancing social justice.”

Founded in 1870, the YWCA of Western New York supports over 3,400 women, children, and families annually and is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Delivered through both anti-racism and trauma-informed lenses, the organization’s programs empower women to attain self-sufficiency, seniors to secure safe, affordable housing that keeps them connected to the community, and children and youth to grow in healthy, nurturing, and enriched environments.

Using Data-Driven Insights

Founded in 2008 in Chicago, TalentRise provides executive search, interim executive placement, and talent consulting. The firm’s talent optimization model uses data-driven insights to align people and organizational strategies for optimum performance. TalentRise supports companies in nearly every vertical — retail, manufacturing, technology, financial services, healthcare, life sciences, E-commerce, and more — with custom and comprehensive talent acquisition solutions.

Related: Keys to Diversifying Your Workplace

Mr. Petrella serves as practice leader of executive search at TalentRise and is responsible for leading the division focused on placing C-suite and executive-level talent into leadership positions within organizations. He plays a critical role in the TalentRise growth plan by cultivating c-level, investor, and board of director relationships with companies looking to acquire senior leadership talent for their business. Mr. Petrella brings over 22 years of experience in a variety of business sectors including sports, healthcare, startups, scaleups, and technology. His areas of expertise include management, sales, marketing, IT, software, and strategy. Additionally, Mr. Petrella serves in a dual role at Aleron Group and helps lead Viaduct, which assists startups and emerging businesses find talent. He is active in several growth-stage technology organizations in the Buffalo, Upstate NY, Chicago, IL, Toronto, and Austin, TX markets.

Mr. Petrella recently assisted in the recruitment of Morgan Williams-Bryant as the new CEO of Leadership Buffalo, a non-profit leadership development program in Buffalo, NY. She replaces outgoing CEO, Althea Luehrsen, who is retiring at the end of 2023 after 12 years at the organization. “On behalf of the entire board of directors, we couldn’t be more excited for Morgan to take the helm and lead Leadership Buffalo into its next chapter,” said Trevor Torcello, board chair of Leadership Buffalo. “Morgan has been actively involved with Leadership Buffalo since participating in the program back in 2017 and has a proven track record of success in her professional and numerous volunteer roles.”

A national search for Leadership Buffalo’s next leader was launched by TalentRise in June 2023 following the announcement of Mr. Luehrsen’s retirement. The search generated interest from over 400 combined candidates, which was ultimately narrowed down to 167 formal applicants, 10 formal interviews, and five finalists. Kendra Brim, senior diversity and inclusion partner at Tesla, chaired the search committee, which also consisted of current and past members of the Leadership Buffalo board of directors.

Related: Candidate-Driven Market Continues to Complicate Hiring Top Talent

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media


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