Deborah was born in Riverhead, Long Island, New York. She grew up loving the beaches, but learned when she went to college in Williamsburg, Ky., that she loved the mountains just as much. During her senior year of college she was invited to teach developmental reading and English classes. She enjoyed teaching the classes so much that after graduation she stayed at Cumberland College as a graduate assistant and taught developmental classes as she worked on her master's degree. In 1988, she became a full time faculty member. From 1998 to 2000, Deborah taught teacher education classes at Pikeville College. She was very happy to return to Pikeville College in 2010 to teach developmental reading courses. Deborah has five brothers and one sister; all of her family but one brother still live on Long Island.