One Page Bio | Video Bio

Who is Jim?

Jim Ott has been a school psychologist with the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency out of Bettendorf, Iowa, since 1984. He has served a variety of schools in rural Jackson County for his entire career. Jim is the co-founder of the City of Dubuque’s Circles Initiative, which is applying Bridges Out of Poverty Concepts at the community level through workshops, trainings, and Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World groups. Jim also presents Emotional Poverty workshops. He has been a national consultant with aha! Process since 2010.

Jim’s credentials


  • Specialist in School Psychology Services (S.Psy.S.), Central Michigan University
  • Master’s in Psychology, Central Michigan University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Central Michigan University

Jim’s aha! moment

My first aha! moment in a series of many came during my first Framework Train the Trainers in Las Vegas in 2006. I knew the power of relationship in my work but had never thought of it being applied in the context of economic class. Having my eyes opened by Ruby and her team gave me new enthusiasm for building successful relationships with students and their families in my schools. I quickly saw the application at the community level and became something of a “Bridges Out of Poverty evangelist” in my hometown of Dubuque. It has been a great joy to see lives changed in the schools I serve and the community where I live!

Jim’s passions?

I have a passion for people, and especially kids. I am fortunate to get to live out my passion professionally and in my volunteer work in Dubuque. I am passionate about my family and my faith. I love communicating powerful information in an effective way that encourages and builds up others who are serving people in the many contexts in which I get to provide trainings.

Jim’s best training

Although there are many examples, one stands out as a favorite among those which prove to me again and again that the Framework/Bridges concepts are the most respectful way to view the issue of real poverty that I have encountered. Following one brief overview that I did for a community group primarily made up of social workers from various agencies, a lady came up to me and said, “I am living in middle class now, but I grew up in poverty, and there is much about my background that I value and love to this day. This is the first time I have heard poverty talked about in a way that didn’t make me think that I was supposed to be ashamed of my past.”

What does Jim do for fun?

I love being with my family and making music together with them. There are various instruments in the family, and everyone sings. These are precious moments that we share together. I love listening to my children perform. I also enjoy hockey and soccer—not playing as much as I used to, but enjoying watching my son.

What are people saying about Jim?

“Jim was an extremely great trainer. I like how he kept my attention. I thought he was honest and not afraid to be real. I like how he tied it in with daily life. Thanks.”

“This presentation was informative, interesting, and entertaining. I appreciated the stories he had to tell and how they were closely related to topic ideas.”

“Jim is a dynamic speaker and great at keeping the audience engaged.”

“Great workshop! Jim is an engaging and knowledgeable presenter. Lots of ‘aha’ moments today.”

“Very exciting, interesting, and motivating. I learned a great deal—hidden rules, social values. Presenter is very humorous but very knowledgeable. Great program!”

“Wonderful presenter. I enjoyed his stories and sense of humor. He talked at our level and it was easy to understand and follow along.”

Great energy! He kept this… training interesting, interactive, exciting and relevant to our job and goals with families.”