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Ruby  Payne

Ruby Payne

International Speaker on Economic Diversity & Social Economic Class, Expert on the Impact of Financial & Emotional Poverty on Learning

Ruby Payne

International Speaker on Economic Diversity & Social Economic Class, Expert on the Impact of Financial & Emotional Poverty on Learning


Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. is the founder of aha! Process and an author, speaker, publisher, and career educator. Recognized internationally for A Framework for Understanding Poverty, her foundational book and workshop, Dr. Ruby Payne has helped students and adults of all economic backgrounds achieve academic, professional, and personal success.

As an expert on the mindsets of economic classes and overcoming the hurdles of poverty, she has trained hundreds of thousands of professionals, from educators and school administrators to community, church, and business leaders. Payne founded aha! Process in 1996 to offer a broad range of training solutions–workshops, consulting, books, and trainings for K–12, higher education, and communities—with a focus on creating sustainable success for everyone.

In the field of education, her career-long goal of offering strategies for successfully raising student achievement and overcoming economic class barriers has become the cornerstone of aha! Process’ K-12 work, used with school districts across the country. Dr. Payne’s work stems from more than 30 years of experience in public schools as a high school department head, principal, and central office administrator of staff development. Sequels to her original Framework book include Research-Based Strategies (2009) and School Improvement: 9 Systemic Processes to Raise Achievement (2010), coauthored with Donna Magee, Ed.D.

In 2000 she coauthored Bridges Out of Poverty with Philip E. DeVol and Terie Dreussi-Smith as the organization branched out into working toward healthy, sustainable communities.

Dr. Payne has written and coauthored more than a dozen books besides the bestselling A Framework for Understanding Poverty and Bridges Out of Poverty. Two recent publications are How Much of Yourself Do You Own? A process for building your emotional resources, coauthored with Emilia O’Neill Baker,PhD,, and Bridges to Health and Healthcare: New solutions for improving access and services, coauthored with Terie Dreussi-Smith, Lucy Y. Shaw, and Jan Young, DNSc.

The 5th edition of A Framework for Understanding Poverty: A Cognitive Approach (2013) was given top honors for professional development with the REVERE Golden Lamp Award from Association of American Publishers in 2014. Also, two of her publications were honored in 2011: Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty received a Gold Medal from Independent Publishers in the Education category, and Boys in Poverty: A Framework for Understanding Dropout (Solution Tree Press) received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers in the Professional Development category. Both titles were coauthored with the late Dr. Paul Slocumb.

Paynes’ other publications include: Emotional Poverty in All Demographics, Before You Quit Teaching, Crossing the Tracks for Love: What to Do When You and Your Partner Grew up in Different Worlds, Working with Students: Discipline Strategies for the Classroom, Working with Parents: Building Relationships for Student Success, Under-Resourced Learners: 8 Strategies to Boost Student Achievement, and From Understanding Poverty to Developing Human Capacity: Ruby Payne’s Articles on Transforming Individuals, Families, Schools, Churches, and Communities.

Dr. Ruby Payne received a bachelor’s degree from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana; a master’s degree in English literature from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan; and doctorate in educational leadership and policy from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.

Speaker Videos

Introducing Dr. Ruby Payne

Speech Topics

A Framework for Understanding Poverty: 10 Actions to Educate Students