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McGriff, Deborah

Partner, New Schools Venture Fund, Former Detroit Superintendent


Deborah has been committed to transforming the lives of underserved urban school students for more than four decades. In 1993, Deborah became the first public school superintendent to join EdisonLearning (formerly Edison Schools). There, she held numerous positions at the company, including President of Edison Teachers College, Executive Vice President of Charter Schools, and Executive Vice President of several external relations functions.

Prior to joining EdisonLearning, Deborah served as the first female General Superintendent of Detroit Public Schools. Crain’s Detroit Business named her Newsmaker of the Year for 1992. Before that, she was the first female Assistant Superintendent in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the first female Deputy Superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was a teacher and administrator in the New York City Public Schools for more than a decade.

Deborah is former President of the Education Industry Association. In addition to serving on the boards of several high-performing charter management organizations, she is the Chair of the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and Beyond 12. She serves on the executive committee of the Policy Innovators in Education Network, and is a founder and national board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. She also serves on the advisory board of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and is a member of the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education.

Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree in education with a specialization in reading pedagogy from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a doctorate in Administration, Policy and Urban Education from Fordham University.