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About Deborah S. Peterson

Deborah Peterson, EdD, has received recognition and awards for her equity-focused leadership in schools. After 30 years as a teacher and school leader, she earned her doctorate from Lewis and Clark College and as a scholar-practitioner was promoted in 2017 to associate professor with unlimited tenure in the education administration program at Portland State University. The author of numerous articles, co-editor of two books, and presenter at numerous national conferences, she was recently promoted to associate professor emerita and continues supporting school leaders with a social justice focus. She was honored with the 2014 Oregon Association of Latino Administrators Ally Award for her work supporting the success of Latina/o administrators, the 2021 College of Education Service Award, the 2022 CPED David Imig Service Award for her work with equity and Improvement Science, the 2022 Honorable Mention Book Award from the Society of Professors of Education and is the recipient of numerous grants to recruit and retain school leaders of color. As an elementary school principal, she received awards for innovative language programs and sustainability projects, and as the coordinator of an innovative English Learner program was awarded the Washington Association of Bilingual Education model program award (1999).

Her leadership background includes campus principal of Roosevelt High School in Portland Public Schools where she led a turnaround in which Roosevelt Schools academic achievement was raised from 14 percent to 40 percent within 4 years. While at Roosevelt, a rigorous college prep curriculum was added, including 17 advanced placement courses, dual college enrollment, led the inaugural student tour of Historical Black Colleges and Universities and Civil Rights in the south, and added a robust theatre and music program-- at a time of declining resources. As principal, she developed with co-author Nora Lehnhoff, a model school-based social services coordination program, which is now widely replicated.

Dr. Peterson also co-founded and served as an elementary principal in a preK-2 German immersion program and a K-5 Spanish immersion principal. Dr. Peterson also has extensive experience as an education district human resources administrator, a commissioner of Oregon’s Quality Education Commission, and committee service with rewriting administrator licensure standards to include cultural proficiency for TSPC administrative licensure.


Present Faculty Member, Portland State University College of Education
Present Assistant Professor, Portland State University Educational Leadership and Policy

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Honors and Awards

  • Tom Ruhl Ally of OALA Award, 2014

Articles (9)

Recent Works (6)

Contributions to Books (1)