Superintendent Dr. Talisa L. Dixon

  • Dr. Talisa Dixon

    A veteran educator and longtime champion of equitable opportunities and student voice, Dr. Talisa Dixon is in her fourth year as the Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer of Columbus City Schools.

    Her 25-year (and counting) career in public education began in Akron Public Schools, where she served as a social studies teacher, then assistant principal. But she is no stranger to Columbus.

    CCS Leader on the Rise

    Dr. Dixon spent nine years as an administrator in Columbus City Schools from 2001-2010. She served three years as an assistant principal at Brookhaven High School, then six years combined as the principal at Brookhaven and at Columbus Alternative High School.

    She began her tenure as Superintendent/CEO in March 2019 after five years of leading the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in Northeast Ohio. 

    Upon returning to Columbus to lead the state’s largest school district, serving nearly 50,000 students, Dr. Dixon hit the ground running, with a 100-day community engagement tour to gather feedback from a variety of community stakeholders, including students, staff, and families. 

    From there, she created the Department of Engagement to more meaningfully connect with our families and community partners, and the Department of Equity with the District’s first-ever Chief Equity Officer to bring Equitable Opportunities for All to CCS.

    In addition, she created the Department of Transformation and Leadership and divided the District into six regions, each with an Area Superintendent, to provide an intentional focus on leadership development and guided regional support.

    Dr. Dixon successfully led CCS through the global COVID-19 pandemic, making shifts from remote to hybrid to full in-person learning while implementing creative strategies to meet the needs of students and their families. She did so while still leading the important work of engaging the community and establishing priorities to create and introduce CCS’ new five-year Strategic Plan – the Power of One – and Portrait of a Graduate, outlining the community’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations for all CCS students.

    She has been commended by city and education leaders for her commitment and leadership in bringing the Portrait of a Graduate to fruition and advancing her vision for Columbus City Schools.

    Dr. Dixon has been and continues to be a voice of leadership throughout Central Ohio, connecting with local civic, business, and non-profit partners all for the benefit of CCS students. She has embraced the power of partnerships and has developed a plethora of meaningful relationships throughout the city, reflecting her vision of the Power of One.

    One of many notable partnership endeavors, Dr. Dixon joined City leaders, Columbus State Community College (CSCC), I Know I Can, and area business leaders to launch the Columbus Promise in 2021, an initiative providing free tuition for CCS seniors to attend Columbus State and continue their education after high school.

    She also partnered with the City of Columbus, The Ohio State University, and CSCC in 2021 to introduce STEAMM Rising, an initiative focused on developing the next generation of teachers and students focused on innovation and to ensure STEAMM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and medicine) talent continues to thrive in Columbus.

    Dr. Dixon currently serves on the board of directors for several local organizations in Central Ohio, including I Know I Can, the Council of Great City Schools, Otterbein University, and the United Way of Central Ohio.

    For the past three years, Dr. Dixon has also served as Superintendent in Residence at The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology. The fellowship program brings together Ohio superintendents from urban, rural, and suburban school districts to share knowledge with the college and develop active research agendas and shared learning that benefits school communities.

    ‘After and Before’ CCS

    After leaving CCS in 2010 and before returning in 2019, Dr. Dixon served as the deputy superintendent for the Saginaw Public School District in Michigan for four years before accepting the superintendent post in Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CH-UH) in 2014.

    Upon beginning her tenure as superintendent in CH-UH, Dr. Dixon led a community engagement process to create a new five-year strategic plan for the district. This new plan prioritized student outcomes, educational equity, and a culture of excellence. 

    Under her leadership, the CH-UH Board of Education adopted an official educational equity policy – the first of its kind in Northeast Ohio – and the district created an Equity Task Force to implement a multi-year plan around diversity and cultural competency. 

    Dr. Dixon also implemented strategies to increase student access to curriculum opportunities in the areas of Early Childhood Education, Career Technical Education, International Baccalaureate, and STEM. She partnered with the United Way of Greater Cleveland to create a plan for wraparound services that support the whole child, and she led the creation of the Heights Schools Foundation to support educators and classrooms PreK-12.

    Dr. Dixon oversaw a $159 million revitalization effort that renovated and modernized the historic Cleveland Heights High School and the two district middle schools.

    She reversed a trend of declining student enrollment during her tenure in CH-UH, championing a “Public is for All” campaign that led to an increase in total student enrollment in consecutive years for the first time since the 1960s. 

    Dr. Dixon was also active in the community, serving on the Cleveland Metro American Heart Association Board of Directors, the Governing Board and Executive Committee for MSAN (Minority Student Achievement Network), and the Board of Directors for the Positive Education Program (PEP) of Cleveland.

    A Decorated Leader

    Dr. Dixon has been recognized both locally and nationally for her leadership in public education. She was named the 2017-2018 National Administrator of the Year by the American Heart Association. She was also among 25 women leaders from the non-profit community selected to participate in the 2018 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Women’s Leadership Consortium. 

    She is a member of the 10th class of the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP); a program focused on enhancing the development, promotion, and implementation of equitable public policy in education. Out of 700 graduates, she was selected as a recipient of the Educator Inspired to Lead Award. Dr. Dixon was honored as the 2018 Educator of the Year by the city of University Heights, and she has also been honored by Dress for Success Cleveland with the organization’s Walking in Success honors in 2015. 

    Dr. Dixon has also been recognized for her work in promoting educational equity. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education honored her and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District for fully reflecting America’s diversity at the highest levels of K-12 schools by equally including students of all backgrounds in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.

    She was honored as a member of the Columbus Business First’s 2022 Power 100 for her leadership and impactful role in creating partnerships to prepare Columbus students for college and the workforce. She was also presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Otterbein University for her exemplary leadership and service in education and to the Columbus community.

    Most recently, Dr. Dixon was selected to receive the Distinguished Educator Award at the Ohio State Coalition, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)’s 47th Annual Bethune-Height Recognition Program and Awards. Under the theme, “It’s Our Time – Growing Her Legacy Greater and Stronger,” she was honored as a woman who strives toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishments, excels in her role and profession, and represents the integrity of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.

    Back to the Beginning

    A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Dr. Dixon received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Mississippi Valley State University. She earned three Master of Arts degrees (Sociology, Educational Administration, and Secondary Education) and a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration from the University of Akron.

    Dr. Dixon is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.