Phil DeVol

Who is Phil?

Phil DeVol is an international consultant who has been working with aha! Process since 1997. He used aha! Process concepts to make institutional changes at the addiction treatment center where he was the executive director for 19 years. During this time he also co-wrote Bridges Out of Poverty with Ruby Payne and Terie Dreussi-Smith. His book Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-by-World is being used to engage people in poverty in the work of building communities where everyone can live well. It worked so well that DeVol used it as a basis for a prison reentry model called Getting Ahead while Getting Out.

He works with community leaders to help them move quickly from an attraction to application of Bridges concepts. Getting Ahead and Bridges are being used in hundreds of communities in the U.S., as well as a number sites in Canada, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. His books have been translated into Spanish, Slovak, and Czech.

Phil’s credentials

Degrees

  • B.A., Capital University, Columbus, Ohio
  • Addiction Counselor, Ohio Credentialing Board, 1981–2001

Work history

  • Coordinator, Family and Children First Council, Morrow County, Ohio
  • Executive Director, Morrow County Council on Alcohol and Drugs
  • Trainer, Johnson Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Trainer, Children Are People, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Program Director, American Friends Service Committee, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Publications

  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities, revised 2009, with Ruby K. Payne and Terie Dreussi-Smith
  • Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World: Building Your Resources for a Better Life, revised 2012
  • Facilitator Notes for Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World, revised 2012
  • Getting Ahead while Getting Out: A prisoner reentry model to reduce recidivism through learning, building resources, accountability, and collaboration, 2015, with Michelle Wood and Mitchell Libster
  • User Guide for Getting Ahead while Getting Out: A prisoner reentry model to reduce recidivism through learning, building resources, accountability, and collaboration, 2015, with Michelle Wood and Mitchell Libster
  • Bridges to Sustainable Communities: A systemwide, cradle-to-grave approach to ending poverty in America, 2010
  • Investigations into Economic Class in America, 2010, with Karla M. Krodel
  • Facilitator Notes for Investigations into Economic Class in America, 2010, with Karla M. Krodel
  • The Complete Guide to Elementary Student Assistance Programs: Strategy, Policy, and Procedure, 1993, with Linda Christensen

Phil’s aha! moment

There have been a series of aha! moments as the work deepened. The big moment was: We’ve been planning programs for people in poverty without having them at the planning and decision making table.

Phil’s passions?

Seeing Getting Ahead investigators participate in the transformation of their world makes me happy. I also enjoy being part of the Bridges learning community that uses Bridges concepts to generate new ways to build resources.

Phil’s best training

The methodology for Getting Ahead and Bridges works off the principle of attraction. It shifts ownership of the concepts to others and encourages them to innovate. The idea that people learn without being “taught” is central to the development of sustainable Bridges communities.

What does Phil do for fun?

I like to ride and be around horses. Laughing with family and friends makes my day, and I like to sit on the veranda and watch the pets play and the trees grow.

What are people saying about Phil and his concepts?

“Phil DeVol’s ideas have provided our students/clients/customers, along with our institutions/agencies/churches, with two critical factors for change. The first is new insight into one another’s mindsets and lives, which allows respectful relationships to develop—and gets people to listen and hear and understand in new ways what they thought they once knew. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. The second is a continuum of strategies and work to be done that gives everyone a place at the table. The practice of inclusion also cannot be overemphasized.”

“One of the important mental models for me has been the research on the four areas of poverty. This research isn’t based on just one area—the choices of individuals in poverty—it also includes the absence of human and social capital in our communities, as well as exploitation and political/economic structures. There is a shift in thought for the participants who work with the Getting Ahead workbook when they realize they aren’t solely responsible for their poverty. This becomes a bridge for them to believe that if a community works together to eliminate all these causes of poverty, there is hope for a sustainable community.”

“Bridges concepts help restore the vigor of the American Dream so that individuals from all walks of life can imagine and write their own future stories. Bridges to Sustainable Communities is a needed next step in helping our communities do the same.”

One-Page Consultant Bio