Deborah Gist is the former superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools in Oklahoma. The district is the largest in the state, serving more than 33,000 students across 78 schools.

Prior to Tulsa, Gist 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 for 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 doctorate in education from the University of Pennsylvania; 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 bachelor’s in early childhood education from the University of Oklahoma.