Deborah A. Gist is the superintendent of public schools in Tulsa, Okla. Prior to Tulsa, she served as commissioner of education in Rhode Island and was the first state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia. She began her career in education as an elementary school teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. Later, as a teacher in Tampa, Fla., she conceived, designed, and initiated a literacy program serving families in 108 elementary schools.

In 2010, Gist was recognized as one of the Time 100 “people who most affect our world” and as one of The Atlantic’s Brave Thinkers, a designation that honors “the year’s most intrepid and original thinking.” She received the Brian Bennett Education Warrior Award from Democrats for Education Reform, is a founding member of Chiefs for Change, was a Broad Superintendents Academy Fellow, and is on the executive committee of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Gist holds a bachelor’s in early childhood education from the University of Oklahoma; a master’s in elementary education and curriculum from the University of South Florida; a master’s in public administration from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government; and a doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania.