One Page Bio | Video Bio

Who is Ruby?

Ruby K. Payne, Ph.D. lives in Texas. Ruby believes it is critical for people to have the tools and knowledge bases necessary to move from survival to stability to wealth creation—at the individual, institutional, community, and policy levels. Born in Indiana and raised in Ohio, she has been a high school teacher, a central office administrator, a consultant for two different regional service centers, and an elementary principal. Ruby’s diverse expertise empowers professionals from all sectors to address issues of economic stability in communities, businesses, hospitals, churches, education, social services, and more.

Ruby’s approach is grounded in research with practical, proven methods that are scalable, have proven ROI, and are sustainable. She has spoken to more than a million educators and has given more than 4,000 speeches and presentations around the world, including engagements in such countries as China, India, Trinidad, Slovakia, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Canada. She is the author of Emotional Poverty and A Framework for Understanding Poverty, which has sold more than 1.8 million copies. Using Ruby’s information and tools, it is possible to write the future story of your business and community with hope.

Ruby’s credentials


  • Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Loyola University
  • M.A. in English Literature, Western Michigan University
  • B.A., Goshen College

Work history

  • Founder and CEO, aha! Process
  • Director of Professional Development, Goose Creek Consolidated ISD, Texas
  • Elementary Principal, Barrington ISD, Illinois
  • Principal Academic Coordinator, Lake County Educational Service Center, Illinois

Selected publications

  • A Framework for Understanding Poverty
  • Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities
  • Emotional Poverty in All Demographics
  • Before You Quit Teaching
  • Removing the Mask: Giftedness in Poverty, with Paul Slocumb
  • Crossing the Tracks for Love: What to Do When You and Your Partner Grew up in Different Worlds
  • Working with Students: Discipline Strategies for the Classroom
  • Working with Parents: Building Relationships for Student Success
  • Under-Resourced Learners: 8 Strategies to Boost Student Achievement
  • Research-Based Strategies: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Students
  • Boys in Poverty: A Framework for Understanding Dropout, with Paul Slocumb
  • From Understanding Poverty to Developing Human Capacity: Ruby Payne’s Articles on Transforming Individuals, Families, Schools, Churches, and Communities

Ruby’s aha! moment

When I realized that individuals had no idea about the reality of generational poverty. Because I had been immersed in it for so long, it was one of those understandings that I thought everyone had. This is why I wrote Framework. I named the company aha! Process because so many people wrote on the evaluations that it was an “aha!” for them.

Ruby’s passions

My true passion is teaching and learning. I am absolutely fascinated by how individuals think. I love to read and find new ideas and thinking. I always wanted to be a teacher, and now I simply teach adults.

Ruby’s best training

My best trainings are when someone will come to me and say, “Thank you. Now I understand my mother,” or “my brother,” or “my marriage.” Or they will say, “This information kept me in teaching. It changed my life.”

What does Ruby do for fun?

I love to read and dance. My husband, Tee Bowman, has two boats, so we go out in a boat to relax on the water. I love a good restaurant and a good glass of red wine. I enjoy travel. I like getting up early to meditate before the day starts—when the day is quiet and I can be reflective. I like spending time with my son and with Tee’s children. And, oh yes, I love shoes!