John K. Holton, PhD., is an educator and public servant trained in understanding the life course of human development. He is currently the Director of Strategic Initiatives for Social Policy and Research at the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to this position, Dr. Holton served as the Director for the Center on Gerontology at Concordia University Chicago, which is the second of its kind in the Midwest. Before assuming his role at Concordia-Chicago, Dr. Holton was appointed as Director of the Illinois Department on Aging, a cabinet member for Governors Patrick Quinn and Bruce Rauner. Under his leadership, the Department on Aging grew to become the state’s third largest human services department with resource capacities exceeding $1 billion to support a network of private organizations and faith-based institutions providing home and community-based services, protective services, housing, meals, transportation, and counseling services for more than 400,000 Illinoisans over age 60 and their caregivers.
Dr. Holton began his career in public education in Hartford, Connecticut, opening the first alternative high school for adolescents characterized as being high-risk, living in group homes. Later, in Chicago, he was the founding Site Director of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods conducted by the Harvard T.A. Chan School of Public Health. This large-scale groundbreaking longitudinal study found that collective efficacy, a type of social capital in which neighbors build reciprocity, trust, and cohesiveness, is an impactful buffer against crime, violence, child maltreatment, and school failure. Dr. Holton provided testimony in Congressional hearings on these findings.
A social psychologist who earned a PhD from Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Holton holds a Master of Urban Education from the University of Hartford and Bachelor in Political Science from Howard University. His research has been published by Child and Family Policy and Practice Review, Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community and Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, among others.