One Page Bio

Who is Gayle?

Gayle Montgomery lives and works in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, a border community to Port Huron, Michigan.

Gayle’s credentials


Gayle holds a B.A. from the University of Windsor, Ontario, and has over 35 years’ experience working in the social services sector.

Work history

Gayle started her career in the mid 1980s as a crisis counselor at a women’s shelter. She then took employment with the Municipal Social Services Department and supervised all aspects of front-line service provision.

Gayle’s aha! moment

Gayle had the opportunity to attend Ruby Payne’s two-day training, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, in 2002. It was a life-changing experience. Since that time, Gayle has concentrated her efforts on the implementation of staff training and client programming based on the Bridges Out of Poverty philosophy.

Gayle’s passions

“I have seen the results when delivering services and engaging my community through this lens. It has been a privilege to witness the incredible journey that so many of our participants have taken to get their families to sustainable, economic self-sufficiency!”

Gayle’s best training

Gayle delivers full-day Bridges Out of Poverty sessions as a Canadian National Consultant with aha! Process and travels throughout Canada sharing Lambton’s journey with other communities.

In 2009 Gayle brought the Circles Initiative to Canada, and under her leadership as the national recruiter for Circles Canada, it has expanded to many other Canadian cities.

Gayle has served on numerous community committees and boards of directors and is currently the past-president of the Sarnia-Lambton Children’s Aid Society Board.

What does Gayle do for fun?

Gayle is a dog lover who enjoys traveling, camping, and creating long-lasting memories with her spouse, her two adult children, and her three grandkids.

What are people saying about Gayle?

I was not prepared to learn all that I did that evening. It really put a whole new perspective on poverty especially generational poverty for me. We as members of the SSVP like to think we deal compassionately with our clients but I am sure there are times we feel it is beyond our understanding what is really going on in some of these households we service. It would be so wonderful if you or someone from your organization could come and give us the Bridges out of Poverty presentation. I think sometimes it is time for fresh eyes and understanding and that is certainly what your presentation did for me.

–Member, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul

Gayle’s discussion and presentation hit me like a ton of bricks!! I had so many “aha Moments” and left with so much passion and motivation toward my career as a social worker.  The entire discussion triggered me emotionally in a BIG WAY, touching on both my professional life, personal life and past life experiences growing up. I did a lot of reflecting afterwards and I can honestly say I have had several doubts in the most recent months and felt I was no longer in the right line of work – however after listening to Gayle, I remembered why I was in this field and I felt like going forward, I would be able to help my clients to accomplish anything, that nothing is impossible!….I sat and thought a lot about what was discussed after I left that day, and I can’t even begin to express how important that day was to me.  These presentations are something that I feel all young aspiring social workers/youth workers should experience.

–Social Worker, Social Service Agency

I had the pleasure of participating in your presentation provided through Lambton College and I have to say that it was a life altering session for me.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a middle class family and regret to admit that I ignorantly believed several of the “stereotypes” that were discussed regarding generational poverty.   What an amazing perspective this information puts on their life and the barriers that they face.  I am very excited that Lambton County has adopted these concepts and ideas and I would like to take this opportunity to commend you on bringing this forward.  I am sure as with any new idea or concept it has not been without persistence to get it to the place where it is.  As a mother now raising my own small children in a middle class family it brings a new perspective to me as to what is “valuable” not in terms of monetary items but what my education and background provides to them.

–Instructor, Lambton College

As an individual growing up in generational poverty I am letting you know that being in attendance of the “Bridges out of Poverty” workshop has opened my eyes to the “other side” being the middle class side.  I understand how frustrating it can be for front line workers of middle class to deal with those of generational poverty.  What you are doing is giving back to “us” – not speaking directly from a First Nations point but non-natives alike – an identity that has been long [overshadowed by] poverty and all the dysfunctions that come right along with it.  To clarify my meaning; the understanding that those of front lines will acquire by taking this workshop is immeasurable, as workers begin the application of understanding to those frustrated, hurt, lost, un-confident, and minority. WOW! I once again thank you for taking the time to understand and the strength to deliver to those in “suits.”

–Native Liaison Worker

I am writing to express how exciting it was to participate in the training.  Gayle was so inspiring and I had so many of those AHA moments that now I want to send all my staff to the next trainings.  We are a large youth organization that serves and supports hundreds of young people with transitions, career and social enterprising.

–Manager, Career Development Services