Professional Q&A: Deanna Boston
In her current role as chief executive officer of the Edmond Public Schools Foundation, Deanna Boston draws from more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. With a passion for public education, she’s determined to pave the way for the next generation of nonprofit leaders.
Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?
A: I have lived in Edmond since 2005 and raised our son here since he was 10 months old. I have worked in Edmond for the Edmond Public Schools Foundation since 2019. Prior to 2019, I worked in Tulsa.
Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?
A: I grew up in Oklahoma City and graduated from Northwest Classen. I graduated college from the University of Central Oklahoma and attended Regis University in Denver for my master’s in nonprofit management, where I graduated with honors and am a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, an honor society dedicated to service to others.
I have additional nonprofit training from the University of Pennsylvania and Lilly School of Philanthropy at the University of Indiana, hold the Certified Fundraising Executive certification, and am currently completing the Certified Education Leader program. While getting my master’s in nonprofit management, my graduate research on telephone solicitation laws in all 50 states led to changes in Oklahoma nonprofit laws through the Oklahoma Solicitations of Charitable Contributions Act in 2010.
Q: What did you do before your time at the Edmond Public Schools Foundation?
A: My first nonprofit job was with Big Brothers Big Sisters of OKC, and that was when I found the career I wanted to build for the rest of my life. I had an amazing mentor, Laurie Barbour, who saw something in me and encouraged me. When we moved to Tulsa, I became the first executive director of Rebuilding Together Tulsa, a nonprofit that provides home repairs for seniors. I led that organization and helped it grow from one staff member to eight and increase its service from 13 homeowners to over 150 annually. During my 18 years there, I recruited, mentored, and trained numerous staff who are now leading the organization!
I have also worked as a nonprofit consultant and trainer in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Alabama, and Washington D.C. and served on the National Affiliate Council for Rebuilding Together National in an elected position.
Q: How did you get involved with the Edmond Public Schools Foundation?
A: After moving back to the area in 2005, I still worked for a nonprofit located in Tulsa. I enjoyed my job and was not looking for a change. However, when I saw the opportunity to work for the Edmond Public Schools Foundation, I felt called to apply because of my strong belief in public education. Not only is quality education important for students, but quality public schools strengthen communities.
Leading the Edmond Public Schools Foundation is a full-circle moment. I grew up playing school with my friends, always wanting to stay at school to help my teachers and even thought about becoming a teacher. I am a product of public education and remember the teachers, cafeteria workers, and office staff that made a difference in my life, and now I get to give back and support them!
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Working in the nonprofit profession for 25 years has given me the opportunity to witness the impact individuals and the community can make in someone’s life. What a privilege that is!
At my current job, supporting public education is what drives me. There are tremendous needs in our schools, even here in Edmond. If I narrow down my favorite part about my job, that is easy! It is working with the students who are part of our student ambassador program. Watching them engage with the needs in their school district and the problem-solving ways they can help is inspiring. Several of them have shown interest in pursuing a career in the nonprofit profession, but whatever path they choose, I hope they have learned how they can be conduits for change in public education and any other passions they find important.
On a personal note, I remember a Christmas in my childhood that was made possible because of strangers who will never know how their generosity impacted me. This is why I chose to work in the nonprofit profession: to connect people with people who may just need a little help on their path in life.
Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?
A: I am obviously passionate about my family, and as a family, we volunteer for and support nonprofits that are meaningful to us. Serving the community is something I have always been passionate about since I was a young child, and working in the profession allows me to share that in a different way with my family.
I am also passionate about mentoring the next nonprofit leaders and helping them learn about the business of nonprofit management. In my job, I have the opportunity to mentor the student ambassadors, and I also look forward to being part of Edmond Public Schools’ new work-based learning program. I also recruit interns from the University of Central Oklahoma who may be interested in the nonprofit profession.
I volunteer my time at the University of Oklahoma as a guest lecturer for students in the nonprofit management program and, most recently, was asked to be an adjunct professor for nonprofit fundraising at Oklahoma State University.
Q: What do you like about Edmond?
A: When moving back to the metro, we 100% chose Edmond because of the public schools! Our son has grown up in the district, from kindergarten in Mrs. Delpha’s class at John Ross to Edmond North, where he will graduate this year. I have observed the district as a parent and now as a professional that works closely with the district. Edmond Public Schools’ teachers, staff, and administration all truly care about the kids in this community, their education, and providing a place for them to belong. What a great place to grow!
Q: What is your number one tip for other professionals, either for work or life in general?
A: I feel fortunate that I was led to and have chosen a profession that is personally meaningful. My advice is to find something you are passionate about, whether as a job or a volunteer, and your passion will drive your work.
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About Tim Priebe
Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.
Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.