Our Team

Gray Associates, Inc. is a strategy consulting firm focused on higher education.  We help education clients develop fact-based institutional and marketing strategies that maximize outcomes for students, the school, and its constituencies.  To support our client work, we have developed an industry-leading database that combines information on inquiry volumes, demographics, competition, and employment.  Using this information and proprietary analytical techniques, we work with faculty and school leadership to develop institutional strategies, select programs, pick locations and prepare curricula. 

Bob Atkins, CEO and Founder linkedin twitter 
Bob led Gray’s entry into the education industry and the development of Gray’s proprietary industry databases and service offerings.  He has worked with all of Gray’s education clients, consulting with CEOs and CMOs on business strategy, pricing, location selection, and program strategy.  He is an expert in business strategy, marketing, sales and high-tech distribution channels.  He has helped AT&T, American Express, HP, IBM, and a number of higher education clients to develop growth strategies, enter new markets, and build their sales and channel organizations.  He has also led efforts that have eliminated tens of millions of dollars in cost, particularly in sales and channel management.  He is a published author, whose articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Sales and Marketing Management, and other publications around the world.  He received an MBA, with honors, from Harvard Business School and a BA, magna cum laude, from Harvard College.

Steve Probst, Senior Partner linkedin twitter 
Steve leads the development of Gray’s education industry databases, analytical processes, as well as several client relationships.  He has pioneered new approaches to educational program strategy, city selection, location selection, and pricing.  More broadly, Steve is a marketing, finance, analysis, and operations professional with over 20 years experience advising educators, automakers, retailers, financial service companies, and transportation companies.  After 10 years at a major strategy consulting firm (now Oliver Wyman), Steve co-founded and helped grow a consulting firm (CFGW/Carlisle & Company) into the dominant player in its primary market.  After that, as follow-on to a consulting engagement, Steve ran and revitalized a client organization while implementing a major process and systems redesign (which yielded $8 million NPV).  Earlier in his career, Steve also created and taught a graduate Marketing course at Northwestern University. Recently, Steve has led projects for education clients in the auto and healthcare segments building predictive models, analyzing the validity of Ability to Benefit testing, and developing a program portfolio strategy across 30 campuses and 25 programs.  Steve has a Masters in Management, with Distinction, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a BS from M.I.T.

Mary Pahissa Upchurch, Senior Partner linkedin twitter 
Mary leads Gray’s relationships with several of the firm’s largest education clients.  Her work includes corporate strategy development, customer segmentation, market and program analysis, program portfolio optimization, offer optimization, and location selection.  Mary has over 25 years of management experience with AT&T, most recently as a Vice President.  At AT&T she led Consumer Strategy and held a variety of positions in Product Marketing, Operations and Customer Care, and Sales.  She was named AT&T’s Catherine B. Cleary “Woman of the Year” for 2001.  Mary is a member of the Advisory Board of Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy.  She is a member of the Board of Directors of Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and served as its Board Chair. She is a past member of Greater Phoenix Leadership, serving as co-chair of its P-20 Education Committee.  Mary holds a Master of Science in Management degree from Purdue University.  She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communications from Rollins College, graduating with high honors.

Noah Silverman, Engagement Partner linkedin twitter 
Noah has over 20 years experience working with technology and data.  In education, Noah has helped develop Gray’s databases on student demand, competition, and job opportunities for educational programs and locations.  In addition, Noah has developed geo-demographic models that predicted starts for our clients’ new campuses.  Prior to consulting, he conceptualized and founded several technology firms including webclipping.com and trademarktracker.com.  Some of Noah's specialties include complex predictive modeling, Hierarchical Bayesian models, machine learning, nonlinear classifiers, support vector machines, and textual analysis.  He has published several papers on mathematical modeling of complex data systems using innovative analytical methods.  Noah holds a Masters of Science and PhD in statistics from UCLA.

Lisa Piatek, Regional Vice President of Business Development, Central Region linkedin twitter 
Lisa is responsible for establishing and sustaining Gray's relationships with higher education institutions.  She helps institutions find the support they need for strategic planning, program selection and assessment, pricing, and location selection.  Lisa has over 20 years of experience working with higher education institutions and service providers.  At four-year colleges, she worked in enrollment management and operations.  For OPMs and education consulting firms, she helped sustain current client relationships and develop new business.  Her goal is to help institutions use Gray's data, systems, and consulting to drive enrollment growth and improve student outcomes.  Lisa holds a Masters in Business Adminstration from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor of Arts in Education and K-8 certification from Aquinas College.

Zach Paz, Director of Analytics and Product Development linkedin twitter 
Zach has developed and led Gray’s data analytic capabilities and tools.  He has drawn together over a dozen industry and proprietary sources to create a comprehensive education industry analytical tool.  For leaders in the education industry, Zach has worked on marketing, location, operations and program strategies.  He also has experience with project management, sales compensation and financial analysis in the banking and insurance industries.  Zach received a dual Bachelor’s degree from Bentley University in Corporate Finance and Accounting, and Global Perspectives. 

Peter Starrett, Senior Analyst linkedin twitter 
Pete has worked with many of Gray’s on-ground and online clients on marketing, operations, program, and location strategies for both on-ground and online institutions. Pete has developed a method that Gray's education clients use to review and assess their programs and campuses across dozens of U.S. markets.  This technique has also been used for acquisition analysis.  He has experience with project management, software application development, and modeling.  Pete earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Harvard College.

Mark Keleher, Director of Sales and Marketing linkedin twitter 
Mark leads Gray's new business development and marketing initiatives.  Mark has been working in the education industry for nearly 10 years.  Previously, he worked with College Athletic Departments, selling a software solution.  He nurtured a successful organizational shift from the individual coach as customer, to an entire athletic department as the customer, which led to the successful sale of the company.  With Gray, he is focused on building and developing client partnerships by working to define, communicate, and deliver solutions that create lasting value far beyond the scope of an individual project or subscription.  Mark earned a Bachelor's degree from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business with a double major in Computer Information Systems and Management.

Arman Uygur, Research Analyst linkedin twitter 
Arman has worked with Gray's education clients on data-intensive projects.  His work includes new and emerging program selection, sales territory optimization and program-specific industry research (employment, competition, job postings, and other areas). Previously, he managed multi-million dollar projects in a Fortune 500 company, including product development and quality control, to ensure products met industry standards.  He also has experience in engineering, design, robotics and computation. Arman received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, with Distinction, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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Student Demand Trends in Higher Education

5 of the Largest 75 Programs that Shrank 53% or More.
In June, UCLA Led Branded Searches for Higher Education.
The Top 10 Majors Employers Need.
21% Decline in Inquiry Conversions for On-Campus Programs.
Download Gray's Program Selection and Assessment Methodology