The Iowa Department of Education welcomes Deborah Elder, who has been named as Chief Operating Officer.

“Dr. Elder brings her expertise as a teacher, school turnaround principal, chief academic officer, interim superintendent and teacher preparation program educator to the team,” said Director McKenzie Snow. “I look forward to her leadership and service as the Department deepens its partnerships with schools identified for support, supports evidence-based instruction and elevates teacher preparation pathways.”

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve Iowa's students alongside Director Snow,” Elder said. “I look forward to building collaborative relationships with all education stakeholders. Together, we will continue to build on Iowa’s commitment to excellence in education for every student."

Deborah Elder
Deborah Elder

Prior to her role at the Department, Elder established a decades-long track record of leading results through innovation. At Los Lunas Schools in New Mexico supporting over 8,000 students, she served as Interim Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer of Instruction, Accountability and Innovation. There, she established the Learning Innovations office to support the acceleration of exemplary learning and teaching practices for educators and school leaders, resulting in up to a 24 percent increase in first grade reading proficiency on interim assessments.

With her background as a performance coach for principals, Elder is passionate about growing the next generation of educators and leaders. She has continued her role as an educator, serving as adjunct faculty with the University of New Mexico Anderson School of Management MBA program, Western New Mexico University’s Educational Leadership program and University of Southern California’s Master of Arts in Teaching program.

In Albuquerque Public Schools supporting 80,000 students, Elder led the Office of Innovation, where she started the state’s first Engineering the Future K-12 pathway and led the Any Given Child partnership with the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Elder has served as a STEM-focused elementary school principal, assistant principal, school accountability coordinator, literacy leader, and elementary school teacher.

Elder is joined by her husband and two dogs. The couple has two adult sons.