January 16, 2024

Dr. Deborah A. Gist Joins Transcend as Superintendent-In-Residence

Transcend is delighted to welcome Dr. Deborah A. Gist to our team! Dr. Gist will serve as Superintendent-In-Residence, a role that engages and supports district leaders working to create and implement a local, innovative, and student-focused vision for education. Among multiple responsibilities, Dr. Gist will facilitate Transcend’s Learner-Centered Leadership Lab, a cohort program for visionary superintendents who share a commitment to putting the needs of learners front and center.

“Our nation’s students deserve learning experiences that prepare them to live, work, and thrive in our modern world,” shared Dr. Gist upon joining Transcend. “District leaders set the tone for how their schools serve students. I’m thrilled to support these leaders in transforming their systems to be relevant, rigorous, and affirming so that every student and every educator is prepared for the opportunities and demands of the 21st century.”

“Dr. Gist has spent her career helping communities create extraordinary, equitable learning environments,” said Aylon Samouha, co-CEO of Transcend. “Her decades of experience, commitment to students, and innovative style make her the perfect fit for leading Transcend’s work with district leaders.”

Dr. Gist is an experienced leader and lifelong learner and educator who is deeply committed to leading transformational change and developing leaders working to improve our world. Most recently she was the superintendent of Oklahoma’s largest district, Tulsa Public Schools. Prior to Tulsa, Dr. 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 Texas.

Dr. Gist is nationally recognized for her leadership of innovative programs and initiatives designed to serve every learner with a focus on children and communities historically farthest from opportunity. She has served as a public-sector systems leader at the local, state, and federal level. She is a founding member of Chiefs for Change, was a Broad Superintendents Academy Fellow, and was in the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship. In 2010, Dr. 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.”

In addition to her role at Transcend, Dr. Gist serves as Senior Advisor to the President at the University of Tulsa, where she provides focused strategic support for innovative approaches to teaching and learning and developing transformational leaders. Dr. 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.

Dr. Gist sets bold visions and holds high bars for what is possible when passionate and talented professionals come together with communities to build brighter futures for children. We look forward to the impact Dr. Gist will have on the Transcend team and the communities we are privileged to partner with!

Transcend is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that operates nationally.