Leah S. Yaw
senior VP and CSO at Devereux
“An Incredible Thought Leader”
Leah S. Yaw, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, is a positive and powerful force to be reckoned with.
In her role at the nonprofit behavioral health organization, Leah is responsible for developing, communicating and executing strategic initiatives that are aligned with Devereux’s critical mission and core values. Specifically, this includes: overseeing the strategic planning process, building/sustaining organizational alignment and momentum to achieve set strategic goals; directing the strategic marketing function; and overseeing the Office of External Affairs. In Leah’s External Affairs role, she manages all fundraising, crisis management, public policy and advocacy, internal and external communications, brand management, and strategic marketing.
An unwavering advocate for children, adolescents and adults living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences, Leah helps lead the organization to ensure it provides the most compassionate and highest levels of quality care for the 25,000 individuals and families Devereux serves every year.
Empowering her team
At Devereux, Leah empowers her team – led by women – by giving them a seat at the table, enabling them to make decisions, bring forth suggestions, and manage their respective areas of expertise. She is a thoughtful listener, puts the needs of others before herself, and continuously works to boost the confidence of her team members in a safe and inclusive environment. Through her unwavering passion and dedication to advocate for individuals living with emotional, behavioral, and cognitive differences – along with her efforts around Devereux’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion organizational transformation – she serves as an inspiration not only to her colleagues and employees across the organization, but throughout her community.
To aspiring leaders at all levels of any organization, Leah offers the following advice: “Say yes to every genuine opportunity presented, especially those pushing your boundaries and comfort levels. That doesn’t mean never saying no; there’s a big difference between genuine opportunities and the off-loading of busy work. Learn to tell the difference, and accept all good offers to do more, create more and lead change – including those which appear too big or too difficult. Have faith in yourself, work hard and don’t be afraid. People in senior leadership can sometimes appear to have all the answers. They don’t, and good senior leaders are always seeking fresh ideas and solutions. Grab genuine opportunity with both hands and don’t let go.” She adds, “If you’re not being offered new opportunities to shine, find a problem within your organization and design a thoughtful solution. Ultimately, leadership is basically just complex problem solving.”
Armed with these qualities, Leah is taking the company to new heights.
In 1912, a young Philadelphia teacher named Helena Trafford Devereux became discouraged as she saw, firsthand, that the public education system underserved children with special needs. Believing she could do better, she began teaching some of these children in her own home. She strongly believed that children, regardless of the level of their disabilities, could learn and achieve personal growth in an environment tailored to their needs.
“Today, we are a national nonprofit partner for individuals, families, schools and communities, serving many of the most vulnerable members of our society in areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare,” Leah explained. Devereux employs more than 7,500 employees across 13 states who provide care and support to individuals with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and mental health needs through a wide continuum of care, including psychiatric hospitals, residential programs, day programs, foster-care homes, out-patient services, community-based programs and special education day schools.
Since its founding more than a century ago, Devereux is now one of the largest and most advanced behavioral healthcare organizations in the country. “We have a unique model that connects the latest scientific and medical advancements to practical, effective interventions in the treatment of behavioral health,” said Leah. “And we are driven by our mission: Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health changes lives – by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences.” IEWL
Leah S. Yaw
senior VP and CSO at Devereux
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the largest and most advanced behavioral healthcare organizations in the country. Informed by the latest advancements in science and medicine, we combine evidence-based interventions with compassionate family engagement to help change lives. We were founded in 1912 by special education pioneer, Helena Devereux. Today, Devereux is a national nonprofit partner for individuals, families, schools and communities, serving many of the most vulnerable members of our society in areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, and child welfare.