Gary Z. Linnen to lead PeerForward as new CEO

PeerForward is pleased to announce long-time leader in the organization, Gary Z. Linnen, will become its new Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Linnen, currently serving as Managing Director for Program Operations and Innovation, will be responsible for leading PeerForward as it creates new ways to scale the highly effective PeerForward Method to more high schools serving low-income communities and expands its services to students in need on college campuses to fulfill PeerForward’s mission to connect students in low-income communities to higher education and careers.

“As CEO, Gary will bring to PeerForward personal commitment and accountability, executive presence and leadership, extensive knowledge and first-hand experience in college access and persistence, and broad stakeholder support to lead PeerForward to the next level,” said Nicholas M. Florio, Chairman of the PeerForward Board of Directors.

Mr. Linnen holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and worked at The Princeton Review before joining PeerForward (then known as College Summit) in 2007. He is a gifted facilitator, having trained thousands of youth and educators in his career. He worked his way up at PeerForward from school partnership manager to program director to his most recent position as Managing Director, Program Operations and Innovation. The PeerForward Board unanimously agreed, after an extensive national search, that Mr. Linnen was the right person to lead the organization into the future.

“More than 12 years ago I joined PeerForward to be part of a team of trendsetters who fostered a movement to change the course of college persistence and career aspirations for our youth in America. These youth, past and present, are powerful people who deserve all of the great benefits life has to offer, regardless of their zip code,” said Mr. Linnen, who grew up in Spanish Harlem, NYC, and was the first in his family to earn a college degree. “Hence, I am beyond elated to stand on the shoulders of our co-founders, staff, alumni, community stakeholders, Peer Leaders and supporters to lead the work at PeerForward.”

Mr. Linnen not only is the first non-founder to serve as PeerForward’s CEO, but he is the first of Afro-Latino descent, reflecting the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Of the 85,000 students in partner schools PeerForward serves annually, 94 percent are minority students and 70% are low-income. Mr. Linnen will build on the momentum that current CEO and Co-founder, Dr. Keith Frome, has generated over the last five years as the organization adopted a powerful student-led model that has increased impact while cutting costs. Dr. Frome will continue to serve as the Executive Chair of the Board of Directors after Mr. Linnen formally takes the reins May 1, 2020.

“When I heard the news of Gary’s appointment, I was thrilled. It was an emotional moment because I have spent the better part of my adult life with the organization. I know that Gary will be a highly effective leader and executive,” Dr. Frome said. “Gary is beloved by our staff, volunteers, alumni, and Peer Leaders. Gary embodies who we are, whom we serve, and where we are going.”



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College Summit is now PeerForward!

We’ve changed our name, but our mission and values are the same. After two decades of leveraging peer influence to guide more students to higher education, we’ve adopted a name that reflects the power of youth activation. Read more