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Say Yes Cleveland Executive Director Named

Diane Downing Starts New Role in February

 CLEVELAND (January 18, 2019) – National nonprofit organization Say Yes to Education today named Diane Downing as the Executive Director of its newly launched Say Yes to Education Cleveland. Downing will oversee the local nonprofit partnership, which has committed to provide eligible Cleveland Metropolitan School District students with access to college and other scholarships, as well as support services in kindergarten through grade 12. The chapter is the latest in Say Yes to Education’s national efforts to help revitalize communities by giving public school students access to postsecondary opportunities.

Downing served most recently as Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate Affairs for Huntington Bank in Cleveland, where she developed strategies for expanding the bank’s community involvement through sponsorships and donations as well as memberships on local boards.  From May 2015 through August 2016 she served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Host Committee for the Republican National Convention, the nonprofit civic group that enabled the convention to take place in Cleveland. Downing also formerly served in the leadership of the Cleveland Browns as, among other roles, Vice President and Stadium Operations Director. She was Project Manager at the City of Cleveland for the construction of Cleveland Browns Stadium (now First Energy Stadium).

Gene Chasin, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Say Yes to Education national organization, said Downing’s long history as a leader in the Cleveland community played an important role in her selection as executive director. “Diane has been involved in helping Cleveland reach significant milestones and achievements over the last two decades,” Chasin said.  “From her work with the Cleveland Browns to her civic engagement and her ability to work with leaders from both sides of the political aisle, Diane is a proven leader – one who is well positioned to help Cleveland’s Say Yes chapter hit the ground running.”

A Cleveland resident, Downing has held other roles in government leadership, including as the Cleveland District Director for United States Senator George Voinovich, Executive for Service during the administration of Mayor Michael White, and Deputy Director of the Ohio Lottery and on the executive staff in the Office of Mayor George Voinovich.  She first came to Cleveland to work for County Commissioner Seth Taft.

“Say Yes Cleveland is the game changer for our students and families that we have long been working toward in our community,” Downing said. “With Say Yes Cleveland, we have the potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of students for years to come. I’m excited to be leading that effort on behalf of Say Yes to Education and the local partnership that is working to make this program a success.”

As Executive Director, Downing’s responsibilities will include managing, coordinating and overseeing the operations of Say Yes Cleveland, as well as the chapter’s interactions with a range of audiences and partners across the greater metropolitan Cleveland community.

More information on Say Yes Cleveland, including its scholarships, can be found at www.sayyescleveland.org.

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