State Superintendent of Schools

Debra K. Sullivan


Appointed in 2017 by Governor Jim Justice, Debra K. Sullivan of Charleston holds an undergraduate degree in English and Education from the University of Virginia, a Master’s Degree in Language Communications from the University of Pittsburgh, additional coursework from Marshall University, and intensive training on teacher effectiveness at the Teaching and Learning Institute (Palo Alto, CA).

Certified in English and Remedial Reading, she taught at rural Madison County Middle School (Madison, VA), inner city Lincoln Junior High School (Rochester, NY), and private Shady Side Junior Academy (Pittsburgh, PA). Once settled in West Virginia, Sullivan taught in Fayette County at Mount Hope Middle School and Kimberly Elementary. Using her West Virginia K-12 administrative certificates (General Supervisor of Instruction, Superintendent, Principal), Sullivan served as the State Coordinator of Reading at the WV Department of Education, Director of Adolescent Education with Putnam County Schools, Principal of Sacred Heart Grade School (preK-grade 5), and recently retired as Principal of Charleston Catholic High School (grades 6-12).

Sullivan received the Distinguished West Virginian Award (2014) from Governor Tomblin, was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement (2012), and was named WV recipient of the AdvancEd Excellence in Education Award (2011). The WV State Bar Foundation selected Sullivan as recipient of the Outstanding Public Citizen Award (1999) and she was chosen as a Fulbright Memorial Fund Educator (1998), studying schools, universities, cultural sites, and businesses in Japan.

In addition to co-delivering research papers on teacher effectiveness at national and state forums, Sullivan served as a high school principal representative on a National Council of Educational Statistics committee where she helped develop a common course classification system to be used across the United States to analyze students’ transcripts. She enjoyed serving as a lay member of the Visiting Committee at the WVU College of Law and of the Lawyers Disciplinary Committee for the WV State Bar. Sullivan recently assisted staff from the WV Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy write a major grant proposal.

Active in her community, Sullivan is a member of the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation Board of Trustees, State Library Commission, Kanawha County Public Library Board, and the Charleston curriculum development committee for WVU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She is married to Ken Sullivan, Executive Director of the WV Humanities Council. They are fortunate to have their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren living nearby in Charleston.