Our Team

Our Mission

At its core, CCP is an organization with deep roots and over 40 years
of combined experience in developing programs and services that address equity and ignite sustainable outcomes for all students from
pre-kindergarten through the completion of a postsecondary credential
of market value. It’s our mission to provide the strategies, leadership
and services needed to further develop the talents of all young people and ensure their postsecondary opportunities lead to success in
the workforce.

Our Mission

At its core, CCP is an organization with deep roots and over 40 years of combined experience in developing programs and services that address equity and ignite sustainable outcomes for all students from pre-kindergarten through the completion of a postsecondary credential of market value. It’s our mission to provide the strategies, leadership and services needed to further develop the talents of all young people and ensure their postsecondary opportunities lead to success in the workforce.

CCP Board Of Directors

With over 50 years of combined experience in the education and nonprofit sectors, the CCP leadership team is uniquely positioned to maximize the growth and impact of the ISSN.

Christopher Cross

Christopher Cross

CCP Board Chair

Christopher is chairman of the board for Community Catalyst Partners. He also serves as chairman emeritus of FourPoint Education Partners, where for more than 16 years he has contributed his considerable strategic planning, policy analysis, and policy development skills to help local, state, and federal leaders better serve students and communities. Chris also serves as a distinguished senior fellow with the Education Commission of the States. Previously, he was a senior fellow with the Center for Education Policy. From 1994 to 2002, Chris was president and chief executive officer of the Council for Basic Education (CBE). Before joining CBE, he served as director of the education initiative of The Business Roundtable and as assistant secretary for educational research and improvement in the United States Department of Education (ED). He served as president of the Maryland State Board of Education from 1994 to 1997 and was a member from 1993 to 1997. He also was a member of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning.

Naeemah Nelson

Naeemah Nelson

CCP Board Vice Chair

Upon earning her B.A. from George Washington University, Naeemah returned to Philadelphia to work at Toll Brothers, Inc. where she sold approx. $25M in luxury real estate. She then joined a nonprofit organization where she was involved in social entrepreneurship that included the startup of two for-profit businesses, a pharmacy that served marginalized members of society, and a general contracting business that hired ex-offenders. Both totaling $5M in annual revenues.

Intending to have a global impact, Naeemah joined General Electric’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Development Program (ECLP) after earning an MBA from UNC, Kenan-Flagler Business School.  She began her post-MBA career with GE Capital in Dallas, Texas; followed by GE Corporate where she served as an Internal Strategic Consultant with assignments based in Egypt, Indonesia, and Germany. After her time abroad, Naeemah returned to the U.S. to join GE Ventures as an Innovation Manager based in Palo Alto, CA.  She then relocated to upstate New York to join GE Power as a Product Marketing Manager. Naeemah worked for SUEZ, a French-based company that works with municipalities and industrial companies providing water treatment and waste management solutions. She was the Director of Strategy for their $2B Chemical Monitoring & Solutions business. In this role, she led M&A, Competitive Intelligence, and droves Synergies from acquisitions.

Prior to joining the Community Catalyst Partners Board of Directors, Naeemah served on the board of Say Yes to Education, a nonprofit that helps give public high school graduates access to college or other post-secondary scholarships. She now works as a BD Manager at Medtronic and resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Noël Harmon

Noël Harmon

Board Member

Noël Harmon is President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars, formerly, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund.  She joined the organization in June 2018.  Harmon was previously at Say Yes to Education, where she was Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships. Harmon has also held positions at the Brookings Institution where she was the Associate Director of the Global Cities Initiatives, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, and at CEOS for Cities, where she was the Chief Program Officer and National Director of the Talent Dividend. She led the National Talent Dividend Network and Prize, a joint initiative of Living Cities and CEOs for Cities, to foster post-secondary attainment, through cross-sector collaboration among more than 60 network cities. She also served as a senior research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) where she managed several long-term national initiatives.

Harmon spent the first decade of her career working in student affairs administration at including Hofstra University, University of Michigan, Western Illinois University, and four years in Athletic Student Services at the University of Iowa.

Harmon holds a PhD in Higher Education and a BA in English from the University of Iowa, and a MA in Student Affairs Administration from Ball State University.

Gene Chasin

Gene Chasin

Founder & CEO

With over 40 years of education experience, Gene Chasin is the visionary catalyst of Community Catalyst Partners (CCP). Prior to founding CCP, Gene worked in all arenas of education, serving young people and supporting organizations in literally all regions of the country. He spent 12 years overseeing the evolution and implementation of the Say Yes to Education community-wide strategies in cities like Syracuse and Buffalo, New York, and Cleveland, Ohio. Before joining Say Yes, he was the director of the Institute for Urban School Improvement at the University of Connecticut and served as CEO of Accelerated Schools, one of the largest, longest-lived, most-researched school reform models in the country. Gene also served as a Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Principal, and public school teacher. 

Koray Gurz

Koray Gurz

CPA – CCP Board Treasurer

Koray serves as Senior Vice President and CFO at Mystic Aquarium.  He has worked as the Controller for a national nonprofit organization and has served as a senior auditor in the private sector. Koray is specialized in the non-profit industry, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants (CSCPA). He received his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Hartford.

Donnie Turlington

Donnie Turlington

Vice President & Chief Operating Officer

Donnie oversees CCP’s day-to-day operations. A longtime public relations and marketing practitioner, Donnie has served in leadership capacities for large municipal governments, local and national nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions over the last 20-plus years. He also brings experience having helped to launch and lead a Say Yes to Education chapter in Guilford County, North Carolina.