Deb and her family moved to Moorhead from Albany, NY in 2000 when she joined the faculty in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Deb and her husband Rob Kupec reside in the Historic Comstock Neighborhood. Their son Quinn graduated from Moorhead High School in 2016, studied aerospace engineering at University of Maryland, College Park and now works in his field. He and his fiancée Megan live in the Seattle area. 

Deb enjoys gardening, biking, and camping with her family. She is also a very enthusiastic but SLOW runner! She has completed the Fargo Marathon and nine half marathons. She leads Faster, Stronger, Runner, the largest training group for runners in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Commitment to Public Service

Deb was first elected to represent Moorhead’s Ward 3 on city council in 2018. She has worked to increase community engagement and collaborations between the city and local stakeholders, so that we can work together to better serve the people of Moorhead. Since being elected, she has served on the following committees, boards, and commissions:

  • Moorhead Economic Development Authority
  • West Central Initiative Economic Development District Board (elected chair in 2022)
  • Moorhead Human Rights Commission
  • Clay County Collaborative Governance Board
  • Cass-Clay Food Commission
  • Moorhead Resilience Task Force  (Equity and Governance workgroup)
  • Red River Recovery Initiative (collaborative community opioid response group)
  • MATBus Coordinating Board
  • Moorhead Public Service Commission

Deb has a deep and long-standing commitment to public service. In 2001 she established NEW Leadership Northern Lights, a regional public leadership program for women. The program placed particular emphasis on serving women from traditionally underrepresented communities, in order to broaden the voices at the table when important decisions are being made. Over 700 regional women completed the program.  In 2013 Deb was invited by the Obama administration to represent the program at the White House Conference on Girls’ Leadership and Civic Engagement.

Deb served on the Moorhead Planning Commission from 2011 to 2015.  For over a decade she was her union’s representative on their state government relations committee. As a government relations representative, she worked with state government officials to promote progressive public policies such as access to affordable, quality higher education and support for organized labor.

Entrepreneurial Experience

While finishing college, Deb and her husband purchased a small business that provided coffee service to offices and stores in the greater Albany, New York area. Even though they were young and inexperienced they jumped into the work with enthusiastic, can-do attitudes. They strived to make the most of limited resources and eagerly sought new and innovative ways to better serve their customers and expand their business. By the time they sold the company in 2000 they had achieved a six-fold increase in their customer base.

Work and Professional Experiences

Professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at MSUM since 2000

Founder and coordinator of NEW Leadership Northern Lights, public leadership program for women (2001- 2020)

Former small business owner (Gold Eagle Coffee Service)

Proud union member since 2000 (IFO public employee union)


A.A.S., Business Administration, Broome Community College, Binghamton, NY

B.A., Economics, State University of New York at Albany

Ph.D. Sociology, State University of New York at Albany