Diane Downing Named Executive Director of Say Yes Cleveland




Say Yes to Education Contact:

Donnie Turlington



Diane Downing Named Executive Director of Say Yes Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio (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.


Founded in 1987, Say Yes to Education is a nonprofit that partners with communities around the goal of every public school student not only graduating high school – but doing so prepared for a college or other postsecondary education, and with access to resources to make that education affordable and equitable. At the heart of Say Yes is a powerful incentive for families and communities: the prospect of a college scholarship. Say Yes and its partners ensure that students have the support outside the classroom to clear the path to academic achievement. Say Yes works with its community partners to bring together local stakeholders and arm that coalition with the tools to boost postsecondary participation and success. Those systems and structures enable the work of the local Say Yes partnership to go to scale and be sustained through predictable transitions in leadership, and historically unpredictable funding from state and local sources. The organization’s support services are available to tens of thousands of public school students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. www.SayYestoEducation.org


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Are you inspired by the goals and approach of Say Yes? We invite you to reach out to the Say Yes National office or to a Say Yes chapter, to learn more about how you can get involved.