Our Executive Team


Doug Tuthill, President

Doug Tuthill has been president of Step Up For Students since August 2008. He is a former high school teacher, college professor, and teacher union president. Doug is married with two adult children. He graduated from the University of Florida, where he was student body president.

Reach Doug at president@stepupforstudents.org.


Anne White, Chief Operating Officer

Anne White oversees scholarship operations and strategic business planning as well as employee resources. Prior to joining the staff, she served as a consultant who led Step Up For Students through a process re-engineering initiative that involved merging two scholarship programs and implementing the new in-house call center that serves parents and schools. She spent more than nine years in the Business Process Outsourcing industry, most recently as Director of Global Clients Services and Operations at Convergys Corporation. Anne received her bachelor’s degree from The American University in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Reach Anne at awhite@stepupforstudents.org.


Alissa Randall, Chief Marketing Officer

Alissa leads the Marketing department, where she oversees a team responsible for promotion, community outreach, content development and student recruitment.

Prior to joining Step Up, Alissa spent a decade in key account strategy and development, most recently as a director at Cox Target Media. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Roger Williams University, a master’s in media from The New School for Social Research and a master’s in computer animation from William Paterson University.

Reach Alissa at arandall@stepupforstudents.org.


Carol Thomas, Vice President, Office of Student Learning

Carol Thomas leads a team that oversees the process development intended to assist schools and families in establishing and maintaining collaborative partnerships that ensure the academic, social and emotional success of every child; while at the same time, upholding the belief that the ultimate responsibility for the education of the child resides with the parent.

Prior to joining the Step Up For Students team, Carol spent over 30 years in public school education as a teacher, principal, director of professional development, assistant superintendent of elementary and exceptional student education, area superintendent and university adjunct professor. She also co-authored and published A District wide Approach to Staff and Student Learning. Carol received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of South Florida.

Reach Carol at cthomas@stepupforstudents.org.


Gina Lynch, Vice President, Operations and Organizational Improvement

Gina Lynch manages the Scholarship Operations Department for the Florida Tax Credit and Gardiner scholarships. She is also responsible for continuous process improvement throughout the organization. Before taking on the VP of Operations role, Gina spent two years as a Director with the Information Technology Department at Step Up For Students.

Prior to joining Step Up For Students, Gina spent more than 10 years delivering high-impact business solutions to organizations in the Boston, MA and Jacksonville, FL areas. Gina has worked with many organizations to create state-of-the art technical software solutions in order to solve complex business needs. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Bentley University located in Boston, MA. She holds her PMP Certification (Project Management Professional) and is actively involved in the professional chapter in Jacksonville that promotes project management excellence in business.

Reach Gina at glynch@stepupforstudents.org.


Joe Pfountz, Chief Financial Officer, Finance

Joe Pfountz leads the team that oversees Step Up For Students’ accounting, finance, treasury, risk management and knowledge management functions and ensures the highest level of fiscal accountability and transparency at Step Up For Students and the programs it administers.

Prior to joining Step Up For Students, Joe spent 29 years in various leadership roles including Chairman of the Board, Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Finance for not-for-profit and for-profit enterprises in the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. Joe began his career in the assurance group of KPMG as an auditor of manufacturing, healthcare, construction and banking companies. Joe received his bachelor’s degree from Christian Brothers College in Memphis, TN and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

Reach Joe at cfo@stepupforstudents.org


Jon East, Vice President, Policy and Public Affairs

Jon East is part of a team that oversees research and policy development, legislative and regulatory issues, advocacy and community outreach, and communications through conventional and new media. He is a lifelong journalist whose interest began as editor of his middle-school newspaper. Previously, he was a member of the editorial board and the Sunday commentary editor at the St. Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest daily newspaper – where he wrote about education issues for most of his 28 years. He was also a reporter and editor at the Evening Independent and Ocala Star-Banner. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Reach Jon at jeast@stepupforstudents.org


Jonathan Beckham, Chief Information Officer

Jonathan Beckham guides the discovery of solutions that balance innovation, technical agility and business savvy to support the organization’s mission, goals and values. He is responsible for organizing, driving and creating the framework for successful execution and development of IT innovation and strategy. Prior to working with Step Up For Students, Jonathan was part of the senior management staff leading the development of technical solutions to manage one of the largest virtual schools in the country. Jonathan has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Florida. He is a Certified Ethical Hacker and Project Management Professional.

Reach Jonathan at jbeckham@stepupforstudents.org.


Jill LaRose, Vice President for Leadership Development

Jill LaRose is the Vice President for Leadership Development. She is responsible for helping SUFS leaders operationalize our two core cultural values–everyone is an asset, and every event is an improvement opportunity–by promoting stronger cognitive and emotional management skills across the organization.

Jill is a certified Life Coach and for ten years was the founder and president of the Angel Society, a nonprofit, child welfare organization that provided shelter and support for girls who were wards of the state. Jill has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education.

Reach Jill at jlarose@stepupforstudents.org.


Jillian Metz, Vice President, Development

With combined passions for education and philanthropy, Jillian Metz leads the development team in its annual tax credit fundraising and philanthropic goals that support the organization’s mission of empowering parents to pursue and engage in the most appropriate learning options for their children.

Jillian joined Step Up For Students in 2006 as the communications specialist. During her tenure with Step Up For Students, Jillian has also worked as the marketing and events manager, and joined the development team in 2011 where she currently serves as vice president. Jillian received her bachelor’s degree in public relations with a minor in business from the University of Florida.

Reach Jillian at jmetz@stepupforstudents.org.


Anne Francis, Vice President, Development

Anne Francis began working for Step Up For Students in 2010 and has held multiple roles within the Development Department. In her current role as Vice President, she is responsible for driving and executing strategies to secure philanthropic and tax-credited contributions.

Prior to joining Step Up For Students, Anne worked in multiple arenas of nonprofit development, including collegiate athletics, higher education, and health and human services. Anne holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in psychology and visual arts from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Reach Anne at afrancis@stepupforstudents.org.

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