Aisha Ray, Ph.D., is a Professor Emerita of Child Development at Erikson Institute. She originally was on the faculty from 1972-1979, and returned in 1998. She is a developmental psychologist with an interest in how social, cultural, and racial factors shape early childhood teacher preparation and the workforce; childrearing in low-income Black communities and the role of fathers; and racial equity and the elimination of white supremacy in early childhood systems. In 2008 she was named the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty (SVP/Dean) and held the Rochelle Zell Dean’s Chair. As SVP/Dean Aisha oversaw Erikson’s reaccreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission; led the development of Erikson’s Master’s Degree in Social Work program; expansion of its online degree and certificate programs including the MSECE; expanded the Writing Program to better serve all students; worked to build a more racially, culturally and linguistically diverse faculty; developed the Students of Color Mentoring Program; and oversaw Erikson’s development of the dual degree MS in Child Development/ MJ in Children’s Law and Policy with Loyola University. In addition, she led and supported Erikson’s service to Chicago communities, especially those furthest from opportunity including the Austin Project, The Illinois Task Force on Reducing the Achievement Gap in Early Childhood, and the Altgeld Gardens Needs Assessment Project. Throughout her tenure as SVP/Dean Aisha worked to support faculty development, leadership, scholarship and service.
As a faculty member Aisha taught Family and Culture, a core course in Master’s Degree Program; and Social and Cultural Contexts of Development in the Doctoral Program. These courses joined her interests in helping students understand the complexity of child development in context; the impact of racialization and segregation on children and families; and normative development of Black children and other children of color. Aisha has written, published and presented on effective early education practices and policies for children in poverty, boys of color, and culturally and linguistically diverse children; family engagement; culturally responsive teacher preparation; and building equitable state early childhood systems.
At present she is a Distinguished Fellow at the BUILD Initiative a national organization that works with states and other partners to build equitable and coherent early childhood systems. At BUILD she works extensively on racial equity and co-leads the Equity Leaders Action Network a national leadership program. In addition, she is a Senior Adviser to the President of the National Black Child Development; and has consulted with numerous groups including the Blue Ribbon Panel on Early Learning of the New York State Board of Regents; Illinois Early Learning Council’s Executive Committee; National Association of State Boards of Education; Ounce of Prevention Fund, and Buffett Center at the University of Nebraska.
Currently she is a member of the Power of Fathers Advisory Board, and the board of Children’s Home and Aid Society. Aisha chaired the board of First Schools, a national school-change model based at the University of North Carolina. In addition, she is a community activist engaged in issues related to Black child development and racial justice in Chicago.
She has taught at the University of Michigan, DePaul University, Morehouse College, and Prairie State Community College; and was a Research Scientist at the University of Chicago Unit on Child Development.
Dr. Ray earned a doctorate and a master’s degree in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; a master’s degree in early education from Erikson Institute/Loyola University of Chicago; and a bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College.