Val Groth is the founder of Ryan Banks Academy, an innovative school for Chicago’s underserved youth. For many years, Val served as a school social worker on the south side of Chicago in CPS, working primarily with students in crisis dealing with challenges related to trauma exposure, poverty, homelessness, violence, and abuse and neglect. Ryan Banks Academy was named to honor the memory of one of her students who was tragically lost to gun violence at the age of 12.

Val is also the author of the book, “The Power of the Possible: The Dire State of Inner City Education and One Woman’s Revolution to Fix It,” and she is a frequent speaker on issues related to innovative education policies and practices. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University, and her postgraduate work included a Master’s degree in social work from Dominican University and a Master’s in educational leadership from Concordia University.