Deborah A. Gist is the superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. As a graduate of Tulsa Public Schools, Deborah is deeply committed to our city and to the success of Tulsa students.
Prior to returning home to lead Tulsa Public Schools, Deborah served as commissioner of education for the State of Rhode Island where student achievement reached historical highs, and graduation rates increased significantly. Before serving as Rhode Island commissioner, Deborah was the first State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. She became a teacher 27 years ago in Fort Worth and considers her eight years in the classroom the most important part of her career in education. Deborah also taught in Tampa, where she conceived, designed, and initiated a literacy program serving families in 108 elementary schools in Hillsborough County, Florida. She later served as a senior policy advisor at the US Department of Education.
Deborah holds a bachelor of science degree in early-childhood education from the University of Oklahoma, a master of arts in elementary education and curriculum from the University of South Florida, a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a doctoral degree in education leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2008, Deborah was a Broad Superintendents Academy Fellow, and in 2013 she was a Pahara-Aspen Fellow through the Aspen Institute.
Deborah sits on the advisory board of the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, and she is a founding member of Chiefs for Change. Deborah is also a member of the National Advisory Committee on Ending Chronic Absence for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and an advisory board member for the National Center for Research on Gifted Education.
Deborah was one of Time Magazine’s "100 Most Influential People in the World" and one of The Atlantic's Brave Thinkers, whom the magazine recognizes for “the year’s most intrepid and original thinking.”
She and her husband, Jock, along with their dogs Rosalita and Diamond, are residents and big fans of Tulsa.