John K. Holton, PhD


John K. Holton, PhD, is an educator and public servant trained in understanding the life course of human development. Dr. Holton comes to Concordia University Chicago most recently from Illinois state government where he served as Director of the Department on Aging and cabinet member for Governors Patrick Quinn and Bruce Rauner. Under his leadership, the Department on Aging grew to become the state’s third largest funded human services department with resource capacities to support a statewide network of private organizations and faith-based institutions providing home and community-based services, protective services, housing, meal, transportation, and counseling services for hundreds of thousands of senior Illinoisans and their caregivers.

As an educator, Dr. Holton began his career in public education in Hartford, Connecticut and before leaving the area, opened the first alternative high school for high-risk adolescents living in group homes. He later taught as an adjunct professor at the School for New Learning at DePaul University, the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, and the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He was the founding site director for the Project on Human Behavior in Chicago Neighborhoods, a ground-breaking longitudinal study by the Harvard TA Chan School of Public Health. In the field of human development, Dr. Holton directed the first Chicago Chapter of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (now, Prevent Child Abuse America) and received recognitions for its innovations to reduce child maltreatment by the Children’s Bureau (U.S. Department of Human Services) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His other human development initiatives include infant mortality reduction in low-income communities and community based strategies aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency and school failure.

Dr. Holton is a social psychologist who continues to teach, advise, and consult for a widening body of consumers. He is in demand as a speaker and consultant worldwide on topics addressing aging services. He is the author of several articles, a presenter in five continents, and the father of two sons, two daughters, and grandfather of three.


PhD, The Pennsylvania State University
MEd, University of Hartford
BA, Howard University


Public Policies & Aging
Program Management in Aging
Aging Values, Attitudes and Ethics
Diversity in Aging


Molnar, BE, Goerge, RE, Gilsanz, P, Hill, A, Subramanian, SV, Holton, JK, Duncan, DT, Beatriz, ED, & Beardslee, W.R. (2016) “Neighborhood-level social processes and substantiated cases of child maltreatment”, Child Abuse and Neglect 51, 41-53.

Holton, JK & Chen, J (2014) Illinois Department of Aging model for caring for elderly with special physical, mental, linguistic, and other challenges. Welfare China, April, 2014

Holton, JK (2007). Discourse on HFA: Practice, research, and policy action steps. Child and Family Policy and Practice Review 3 (2), 19-22. Retrieved January, 2008 from

Zambrana, R.E., & Holton, J.K. (2007). Disparity/Inequity, knowledge production and public policy. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 16(3/4), 169-178.


Elder exploitation and abuse prevention; community housing for older adults; collective efficacy and senior security