Youth Villages harnesses 75 years of experience with recent staff promotions

Three longtime Youth Villages employees are recommitting to serving at-risk youth in the Mid-South through new positions within the organization.

“[They] are proven leaders in our organization, bringing a combined 75 years of experience to their new positions,” said CEO Patrick Lawler. “I feel confident in their ability to lead in their new respective roles as we continue to grow across the country.”

In November 2020, Cliff Reyle advanced to chief of staff after he served as chief human resource officer for over 30 years. During his tenure at the organization, Reyle has also led IT, legal, communications, and business development efforts.

“When I came to Youth Villages, the organization had 132 employees and two residential programs located in Memphis,” said Cliff Reyle. “This role allows me the freedom to help the organization build the next generation of leaders that will prepare the organization to serve even more children and families for generations to come.”

Founded in 1986, Youth Villages now has 3,000 employees who serve youth with mental and behavioral health needs across 24 states with residential, in-home, foster care, and adoption services, along with other programming depending on a family's needs.

LaTonya Pendleton has been with the organization for more than 22 years. She started her journey teaching children with behavioral and emotional challenges at the Youth Villages’ Memphis-area Dogwood campus. She's now been promoted to chief human resource officer.

“I started in a direct care position,” said Pendleton. “I was mentored and given the space to develop and grow. The [new] role will create an opportunity for me to be a part of key decisions across the organization.”

Pendleton has worked in human resources for 18 years, most recently as director of the department, so the advancement is a natural progression of her time at Youth Villages.

Reyle said, “LaTonya can relate [to] and understand the challenges that our direct care employees face each day. She has functionally been running the ‘day to day’ operation of the HR department and has earned the respect of the leaders of the organization.”

A third major promotion at Youth Villages in November was Charmaine Kromer’s move to chief operating officer for community-based programs. Kromer has over 24 years of experience at Youth Villages, including many years with the Intercept in-home services program aimed at preventing or limiting the need for foster care.

Kromer has served as Tennessee executive director for the past 8 years, leading the organization’s state-level operations for in-home services, foster care, and group homes.

As chief of staff, Reyle will be working alongside CEO Patrick Lawler on staff issues and developing the next generation of leaders for the organization. Reyle said the company’s mission has kept him enthusiastic about his work for three-plus decades.

“I have the opportunity to come to work at a place where I know that what I do has a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people and their families while working alongside people that I love. Not many people get to say that,” he said.

For Pendleton, it’s the commitment of her fellow employees.

“I saw how hard our employees worked throughout all of our programs and departments. Their drive and energy made me want to work harder, and I wanted to be a part of the great work that Youth Villages did for children and the community,” she said.
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Read more articles by Sarah Rushakoff.

Sarah Rushakoff was raised in Memphis and is a graduate of White Station High School and the University of Memphis. She is a longtime member of Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe and works professionally as a graphic designer, writer, and photographer.