As a child who spent her free time thinking up new invention ideas and writing short stories, Val Groth always knew she was an entrepreneur and a creative at heart but it took a winding path to lead her back to that place as an adult. Studying psychology and social work led her to become a school social worker and while she loved the work, Val grew increasingly frustrated that so many of her students faced significant challenges outside of school such as poverty, homelessness, violence, and other forms of trauma. After hearing from families that they were looking for more trauma-informed support, Val left her social work role with the intention to build a school that was focused on the holistic care that her students and their families were seeking.
Ryan Banks Academy - named in honor of a former student who was shot and killed at the age of 12 - is now open and serving Chicago students. Through her previous role as the founder and CEO of Ryan Banks Academy, Val's work has led to some pretty interesting opportunities such as when Jeff Garlin, Jack Black, and Sarah Silverman hosted an event in LA for Ryan Banks Academy - or that time when she was featured on a double decker bus and across billboards across the city as part of the I Am Chicago campaign.
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 is a sought-out speaker who has spoken alongside the former U. S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, as well as at international conferences.
In her free time, Val has a tendency to live at the far ends of the spectrum. While she loves to spend entire weekends doing nothing but reading books and walking around Chicago, she also thrives on doing things that challenge her such as running marathons, going skydiving, or rappelling down a skyscraper. Val recently completed the manuscript for her second book entitled Girl Avenged, a psychological thriller, which she is currently querying to literary agents and hopes to publish by 2022. Post-pandemic, she looks forward to catching up on her travel bucket list - Greece is at the top of her list.
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