One-Page Bio

Who is Evan?

Evan Whitehead has been in the field of education for more than 20 years spanning three decades and is currently the director of special services for a PK–8 school district in Illinois. In his current role, Evan oversees all federal programs (special education, McKinney-Vento, English learners, and Title I); early childhood education; multi-tiered system of support (MTSS); social emotional learning, family and community engagement; health services; continuous improvement; and equity, diversity, and cultural competency.

Evan started his career in education as a crisis and behavior interventionist at a therapeutic day school in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Over the course of his career, he has held the following positions: special education paraprofessional, special education high school teacher, Latino parent outreach coordinator, dean of student discipline, community outreach coordinator, director of special services, director of bilingual education and English learners, Title I director, and assistant superintendent of special services.

Evan also worked as a district liaison with the Illinois State Board of Education’s Illinois Statewide System of Support. In this role Evan was charged with leading district assistance teams in implementing supports for districts in order to build district capacity in schools and help reduce the largest within-school gaps in achievement and largest within-school gaps in graduation rates at the high school level.

Evan’s Credentials


  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Administration, North Central College
  • Bachelor of Arts in Special Education with a concentration in bilingual-bicultural special education and English as a second language, Northeastern Illinois University

Work History

  • Assistant Superintendent of Special Services
  • District/School Improvement Specialist
  • Title I Director
  • Director of Bilingual Education
  • Community Outreach Coordinator
  • Dean of Student Discipline
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Latino Parent Outreach Coordinator
  • PBIS Internal and External Coach
  • Crisis Interventionist
  • Diversity Recruiting, Hiring, and Retention Chair
  • Executive Director of Educational Services

Listing of publications and presentations

Alabama Association of Elementary School Administrators (AAESA) Fall Instructional Leadership Conference, November 19, 2019, Orange Beach, Alabama

General Session: “Emotional Poverty in All Demographics: How to Reduce Anger, Anxiety, and Violence in the Classroom”

Joint Annual Conference IASB-IASA-IASBO, November 23, 2019, Chicago, Illinois

“Need and Numbers: Board Policies for Equity and Accountability”

Illinois Statewide ESSA Conference, February 2019, Chicago, Illinois

“Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Our MTSS Framework: It Begins with a Sound Tier 1”

Illinois No Child Left Behind Conference, February 2014, Chicago, Illinois

“Turnaround Principles” and “Illinois Center for School Improvement: Who We Are and What We’re Doing”

AdvancED Illinois Fall Conference, September 2014, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois

“Leadership Through the Turnaround Principles and AdvancED Standards”

Coauthor, “Implementation Continuum for District Turnaround and Transformation, a Guide,” Illinois Center for School Improvement, American Institutes for Research (AIR), April 2014

 Federal/State Committees

  • Illinois State Board of Education ESEA Consolidated Committee of Practitioners (CCOP), Four-Year Term.

Evan’s aha! Moment

I first became familiar with Ruby Payne’s work when I attended an A Framework for Understanding Poverty training session approximately 10 years ago as a school administrator. Although I was not currently living in poverty, the themes within the book and training resonated with me as I reflected on my childhood experiences. Fast-forward: Ruby presented Framework training for the teacher institute at the beginning of the school year. During her presentation, Ruby also discussed her then-upcoming book and training Emotional Poverty in All Demographics. After reading Emotional Poverty, as with A Framework for Understanding Poverty, themes within the book resonated with me personally in terms of my own personal experiences, as well as the experiences of families, students, and staff I have served over my career. Given the personal and professional alignment between my life experiences and themes within the book, being a consultant with aha! Process affords me the opportunity to deliver training that is personalized and connects with my audience.

Evan’s passions

Evan’s passions include educator self-care and wellness; district/school culture and climate; special education; social emotional learning; multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS); family and community engagement; federal programs; equity, diversity, and cultural competency; and mental health.

Evan’s best training

My best trainings occur when I receive affirmation, feedback, and energy from the audience. That is when I know that the message and information were impactful.

What does Evan do for fun?

Evan is a husband, father, mental health advocate, and has coached youth sports for more than 15 years. He enjoys reading, spending time with his family, traveling, and attending his children’s sporting events.