When Yolanda Brown is at work in her office, she only uses a minimal corner of the wide room given for her position as parish life director at in Hollywood.
Always the giver, she chooses to keep it that way, believing that the community deserves the larger portion of her office space.
It is qualities like this and many others that led Los Angeles City Council President to select Brown as the Council District 13 Pioneer Woman of 2011 earlier this summer.
“Yolanda is a shining example of the pioneering spirit,” said Garcetti in a press statement. “She truly is a leader and guiding force in Hollywood.”
Each year, councilmembers recognize an outstanding woman from the districts as a Pioneer Women. The City of Los Angeles established the Pioneer Woman awards in 1988 to recognize extraordinary women.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Brown said. “I couldn’t imagine why me? All I am doing is what I naturally think we all naturally are doing – contributing.”
Brown’s position as Blessed Sacrament’s parish life director proves her life-long dedication to others.
“This actually a vocation, something that I am committed to for the rest of my life versus when I worked at a commercial bank, which was a career that I retired from,” Brown said.
Brown came to Blessed Sacrament from her career in banking because she wanted to give the opportunity to help those in despair.
“I asked how can I enable people to somehow improve their lives and become more self-sufficient,” Brown said. “Next thing I know, I was in a Catholic bible institute at Loyola and trying to learn more about what was touching me.”
So the Pace University graduate with a master's in business adminstration decided to pursue her master's in theology from Loyola Marymount University.
Brown had learned of a new parish leadership model through the Roman Catholic Church that allows those who are not ordained take on pastoral responsibilities and felt this was her higher calling.
Brown then spent seven years as pastoral associate for Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights. She is currently working toward a doctorate in ministry from Catholic University.
Earlier this month, Archbishop Jose Gomez appointed Brown to serve as one of the leaders of Blessed Sacrament where she says she has gladly taken on several duties.
“I have assumed the pastors' responsibilities, which encompasses both administration and oversight of pastoral ministries,” Brown said. “In addition to the parish, we have the school and we have a non-profit organization, which is Social Services at Blessed Sacrament that serves primarily the homeless and low income people. We also help transition the homeless so that no one has to experience homelessness.”
Brown said that one major benefit of leading a church in a place like Hollywood is that there’s boundless hope and inspiration.
“Hollywood has a legacy of being the hub for helping people's dreams and visions come true,” Brown said with a smile. “Hollywood is known for its entertainment but it also enables people to have hopes. Hollywood is a Good Samaritan.”