Leslie Lefer, the new director at Center on the Hill.

Leslie Lefer, the new director at Center on the Hill.

by Sue Ann Rybak

Leslie Lefer, 47, of Elkins Park, has been named the new director of Center on the Hill, 8855 Germantown Ave.

Lefer replaces Jackie Yorko, who resigned in September to be closer to her mother and siblings in Richmond, Va. She had held the director’s position for three years.

While no doubt Lefer has big shoes to fill, she seemed at ease with her new role as director as she greets members by name.

Lefer said she sees her role at the Center as not only being responsible for program development and management but also being a hostess or a friend.

“I love getting to know people,” said Lefer, who owned her own training and development consulting company prior to accepting her new position. “I kind of feel like I am a host.”

Lefer described the Center on the Hill as a “community.” She said her job was “to make sure everybody has a good time at the center.”

“Whether that’s making sure the room is set-up and the instructors have what they need or offering really engaging programs,” she added, her job is to make sure members feel at home.

“Sometimes, people just want to say ‘hi’ and tell me what’s going on in their life,” Lefer said. “If that’s what they need for today then that’s what I can provide for them.”

Lefer said she doesn’t think of it as her job or work.

She said working at the Center on the Hill provides her with an “opportunity to form friendships, build partnerships and community.”

Lefer brings a wealth of experience to the job.

For the last 15 years, she worked as a senior organization development professional at various nonprofits, educational institutions and corporations to design and deliver staff and leadership development programs.

After years of working in the corporate world, she decided it was time for a career change.

Lefer, who has an undergraduate degree in recreation and park administration from the University of Delaware, craved the sense of community she had while working with seniors at two residential retirement communities earlier in her career.

“In the corporate world, I worked at a cubicle and people just did their work,” said Lefer, who has a master’s degree in training and organizational development from St. Joseph University. “It was a very sterile atmosphere.”

“I loved the work because it was different all the time, but I wanted to help people on a more personal level,” Lefer said.

She said she gets that opportunity every day at Center on the Hill.

The Rev. Cynthia Jarvis, minister at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, said she knew immediately that Lefer was a perfect fit for Center on the Hill.

“From the first moment I met Leslie, I knew that her skills combined with her energy and excitement about the future of the community at the Center on the Hill would build on the incredible foundation laid by Jackie Yorko,” Jarvis said. “The Center has been given the gift of another dynamic leader with passion and vision!”