Skip to main content

Deborah Delisle Named President of Alliance for Excellent Education

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction to Succeed Gov. Bob Wise

WASHINGTON, DC—The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) today announced that Deborah (Deb) Delisle will replace Gov. Bob Wise as its next president and chief executive officer (CEO) on February 1. Delisle brings more than forty years of experience as a teacher, principal, curriculum coordinator, district superintendent, and state superintendent to All4Ed’s mission of ensuring that every student, especially those who are underserved, graduates from high school prepared for college, a career, and life. More recently, she served as executive director and CEO of ASCD and assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education in the Obama administration.

“Deb is perfect to guide All4Ed in its next chapter to help advance U.S. secondary education,” said Dan Leeds, chair of All4Ed’s board of directors. “She was elected unanimously by the board, is committed to equity, has excelled at every level of the U.S. public education system—from classroom teacher to U.S. assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education—and served as head of one of the largest education membership associations in Washington, DC. Deb is a strong leader and the right person to expand All4Ed’s impact at the federal, state, and district levels.”

As assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, Delisle served as the primary advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on all matters pre-K through twelfth grade. During her three years at the U.S. Department of Education, Delisle oversaw more than eighty programs with a portfolio of almost $25 billion.

“Deb has devoted her life to creating educational opportunity for others; this work is very personal,” said Sec. Duncan, now a managing partner at Emerson Collective. “She knows firsthand the life transforming power that only education has. Gov. Wise has provided smart, strategic, and courageous leadership during his tenure, and Deb will absolutely build upon the foundation he created.”

Throughout her career, Delisle has sought to change policies, advocate for the most vulnerable youth, transfer research into practice, and transform schools so that every student has the resources, support, and structures necessary to lead a productive and fulfilling life in an increasingly global environment.

“Deb is a champion for students and a strong voice for educational equity,” said Roberto Rodríguez, president and CEO of Teach Plus, former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama for education, and member of All4Ed’s board of directors. “Her leadership will position All4Ed for even greater impact at the intersection of policy, research, and practice.”

Prior to coming to Washington, DC, Delisle built an impressive career in Ohio, serving as state superintendent of public instruction under former Gov. Ted Strickland. She also led the minority-majority Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District as associate superintendent for two years and superintendent for five years.

“As state superintendent of public instruction, Deb was a trusted advisor and partner in our shared goal of building a world-class education system for Ohio students,” said former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland. “In Deb, All4Ed will get a dedicated and passionate leader with a laser-like focus on equity and an unwavering commitment to students with the greatest needs.”

“Deb is a proven visionary leader who brings out the best in students, adult educators, and community partners,” said Nick Petty, director of undergraduate inclusive excellence at Cleveland State University and former principal of the Ginn Academy in Cleveland. “She is innovative and always creating the cutting edge of trends in education. I have known her for more than a decade and firmly believe she leaves every organization better than when she arrives.”

As president and CEO of All4Ed, Delisle will lead an equity-focused organization with a strong history of success. At the federal and state levels, All4Ed works to ensure that federal education laws and state accountability systems recognize and support historically underserved students and provide them with the opportunity to graduate from high school ready for college and a career. All4Ed also works directly with more than 3,000 school districts under its Future Ready Schools® initiative and, over the last year, launched a major initiative on the science of adolescent learning (SAL) through which scientific evidence on how middle and high school students learn and develop is translated into actionable information that can inform policy and practice decisions made by school and district leaders.

“I’m honored and humbled to follow in the footsteps of Governor Bob Wise,” said Delisle. “During his nearly twenty-five years as congressman and governor, and fourteen years at All4Ed, Governor Wise worked tirelessly to give a voice to those without one and champion action on behalf of those facing the greatest need. Across the many roles I have held, there is nothing more important to me than prioritizing actions that strategically focus on every child in America, especially our most vulnerable citizens who are routinely underserved. It was this mission of equity and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion that drew me to All4Ed.”

In addition to her extensive work experience, Delisle brings perspective gained from serving on numerous boards and commissions, including governing board of the Minority Student Achievement Network, executive board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers executive board, NWEA, KnowledgeWorks, the Center for Teacher Quality, the Longview Foundation, and the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).

“Every single day in the United States, far too many students are feeling anxious, disengaged, and divided as they face daily challenges ranging from gun violence to bullying and food insecurity that interfere with their safety, learning, and development,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, board chair of CASEL, chairman of Special Olympics, and co-chair of the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. “I’ve seen firsthand Deb’s passion, commitment, and knowledge for addressing these issues head-on and ensuring that kids go to school in learning environments where they feel safe and seen, inspired and challenged, and a sense of purpose and belonging.”

Throughout her career, Delisle has received many honors, including the Betsy M. Cowles Leadership Award, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award, the Ohio Education Association Vision Award, the Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators Distinguished Service Award, and being named one of University Heights most influential people. In August 2011, the Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District honored Delisle by dedicating a school as the Deborah S. Delisle Education Options Center to recognize her lifetime of service to students. In July 2014, she was identified by the National Journal as one of five women in America who influence and shape national education policy.

“During my fourteen years at All4Ed, the United States made great progress in increasing its high school graduation rate to an all-time high of 84 percent,” said Wise. “But the world has changed. A high school diploma, which still eludes many students of color and students from low-income families, is no longer sufficient to guarantee a student a successful and productive future. As new All4Ed president, Deb brings great experience and knowledge in delivering an excellent education to students and schools facing the greatest challenges. She is the perfect person to lead All4Ed and to ensure that every child—every child—receives an education that provides the knowledge, skills, and determination to succeed in whatever path he or she chooses.”

# # #

The Alliance for Excellent Education (All4Ed) is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring all students, particularly those underperforming and those historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.