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.


Gina Lynch, Chief Operating Officer

Gina Lynch is responsible for leading multiple teams whose primary focus is to serve Step Up For Student’s scholarship families, schools and providers. Gina’s priority is to make sure that the “voice of the customer” is heard and that it is used to drive improvements across the scholarship programs under administration.

Gina has been with Step Up For Students since December of 2013 serving in various roles. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Bentley University in Boston, MA. She also holds her PMP (Project Management Professional) Certification. In 2019, Gina attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Leadership for Senior Executives program.

Reach Gina at glynch@stepupforstudents.org.


Joe Pfountz, Chief Financial Officer

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.

Reach Joe at cfo@stepupforstudents.org


Lesley Searcy, Chief External Relations Officer

For over 20 years, Lesley has provided transformational, executive leadership to large scale nonprofits. At Step Up for Students, Lesley leads the fundraising, policy, and state partnership teams. Her experience in aligning boards, donors, employees, and communities to a mission has helped to build strong, outcome-based nonprofits. Additionally, her entrepreneurial vision has helped create social enterprises and diverse funding streams for multiple organizations.  Lesley is a veteran in public affairs developing critical relationships with media and elected officials leading successful policy results. Lesley earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Alabama and a Master of Arts in Public and Private Management from Birmingham Southern College. She is also a John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer, and coach.

Reach Lesley at lsearcy@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.


Anne White, Chief Administrative Officer

Anne White provides leadership support for our human resources, organizational and professional development teams as well as our compliance, risk management and purchasing functions. She has been with Step Up since 2010.  Previously, she served as the organization’s Chief Operating Officer, responsible for scholarship operations and employee resources.

Prior to joining the staff, Anne spent more than 15 years in the global business process, hospitality and higher education industries, most recently as Director of Global Client Services and Operations at Convergys Corporation.  Anne received her bachelor’s degree from The American University in Washington, D.C.  She holds a coaching certification from the Institute of Social and Emotional Intelligence and is a certified John Maxwell speaker and coach, as well as a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Reach Anne at awhite@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.


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.


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