Ruby Payne, Ph.D.

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.

Dr. Ruby Payne is available for keynote presentations at conferences and trainings at schools, communities, businesses, etc., for half- and full-day events. She has presented to groups in more than 10 countries and every state in the U.S. For more information, call (800) 424-9484 or email!

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.

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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. View K-12 results.

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. Hear from Bridges Communities in their own words.

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.

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.

  • View a map of places where aha! Process has been involved over the years.

A note from Dr. Ruby Payne:

Any person who has a “public presence” over time receives requests for additional information. A “public presence” often creates both endorsements and critics as well as requests for the research for grant writing purposes. Below, I have provided a section on endorsements, responses to critics, the research that has been done with the work, and free resources that you can download. It is my hope that this information will be helpful to you.