Our Team
Our Framework
Our Approach
Our Blog


Nialena Ali, J.D. ‘22

Cofounder, Director of Research & Development

I was raised in Oakland, California & am proud to call the San Francisco Bay Area home. I come from a very artistic & politically conscious community & issues of injustice & concerns for humanity have always been dinner time conversations in my family. My interest in multiculturalism & international politics was truly sparked when I traveled to Turkey as part of a U.S. Department of State initiative to improve citizen diplomacy between the U.S. & Muslim countries. I lived there for one year & was the first black person most locals had ever seen. My experience in Turkey & the relationships forged showed me the profound impact that cultural exchange can have on individuals & communities. It also showed me the necessity for programs and institutions to address issues of race & difference. While at Mount Holyoke College I continued traveling & exploring such issues through my double major in International Relations & African Diasporic Studies. Passionate about racial justice & human rights, I studied at the School for International Training in South Africa. There I conducted feminist research & creative healing sessions for a woman of color who survived domestic abuse & apartheid. Following that, I worked to build community & promote positive coping skills in mens prisons throughout Massachusetts with the Alternatives to Violence Project. My work to address issues of injustice & advocate for the most vulnerable members of society continues through my pursuit of my juris doctor degree and my work with Human In Common.

(She, her pronouns)

Deborah Cohen, M.Ed.

Cofounder, Executive Director

Deborah has over 25 years of leadership experience in education, non-profits and small business. She is an expert in the field of addressing racial disparities, sexual harassment and assault, and other forms of systemic inequality in education and across society. Deborah has provided professional development to practitioners in business, education, healthcare, housing, food justice, addiction prevention and recovery services – empowering participants with skills and creating practical roadmaps to effectively build institutional capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has provided professional development and consultation at a range of institutions including: The MA Department of Public Health (BSAS), Cooley Dickinson Hospital, A Positive Place, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Western Connecticut State University, The Western MA Food Bank and Chestnut Middle School. Prior to her teaching career, Deborah worked in non-profit organizations in the fields of disability and Deaf services, domestic violence counseling and advocacy, and support services for impoverished communities.  She has a Master’s in education with a focus on social justice education along with a Massachusetts teaching certification in secondary education social studies. A dynamic team-builder and an inspiring trainer, Deborah is in demand for workshops, keynote presentations, panel discussions, and executive consultation and coaching. When she’s not working, Deborah hosts benefit dance events to support local non-profits.

(She, her pronouns)

Tavis Carter, MS, LADC-1

Tavis holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management and Leadership, is a licensed drug and alcohol counselor, and offers 20+ years of experience in health and human services. Tavis has taught college courses on Education, Oppression and Resistance and has served on numerous diversity committees focusing on operationalizing equity and inclusion. After attending several Human In Common trainings, Tavis joined Human In Common at the start of 2021. Tavis brings humor, empathy, and passion for sharing effective communication skills.

(He, him pronouns)

Kate McConnell, MA

Kate pursued her Masters in International Education from SIT Graduate Institute to unravel the unjust privilege and power dynamics she witnessed in the Peace Corps (Morocco, ‘04-07). After a decade abroad designing service learning programs with a focus on Social Justice in Intercultural Relations, she returned to the U.S. and joined Crossing Borders Education to teach the skills necessary to cultivate a “Culture of Dialogue” across difference. Her second MA in Liberation Psychology served up deep medicine to decolonize her own mind, body, and soul. She joined Human In Common in March 2021 and is committed to racial equity rooted in love and healing justice.

(She, her pronouns)

Paul Dennis, MFA

Paul Dennis, MFA, graduated from The Juilliard School and performed world-wide with the Jose Limon modern dance company. An Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Paul is a performer, researcher and lecturer, bringing a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to local and national discussions on decolonizing arts curriculum, and using dance as a medium for healing. Paul became an advisor to Human In Common in 2017 and in 2021 joined our team of trainers.

(He, him pronouns)

Caleb Teachey, BA

Caleb Teachey is a former science teacher and wilderness therapy guide and joined the Human In Common team in 2021. Whether in school or in treatment settings, he is passionate about bringing nuance to conversations about gender. He identifies as transgender and nonbinary and has used those identities to inform his work with students, fellow educators, and therapy participants.

(He, him pronouns)

Kevin J. McCarthy, MSW, LICSW

Kevin J. McCarthy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is dedicated to creating a safe, non-judgmental and collaborative therapeutic environment for individuals to heal and grow. He specializes in assisting people with co-occurring disorders in finding their pathway to recovery through Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, utilizing a mindful approach to understanding the nature of complex trauma. He is the Clinical Coordinator for Substance Addiction Services at Eliot Community Human Services and serves on the board of the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.

(He, him pronouns)

Robert Gordon, BA

Robert joined Human In Common in September of 2021 as a Diversity Specialist. His academic training is in Women’s Studies, with an emphasis on the connections between race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. Professionally, Robert has worked in education, helping secondary and higher ed students and administrators operationalize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through planning and implementing strategic plans, increasing multicultural recruitment of staff and students, and creating organizational systems to improve institutional accountability, his expertise lies in bringing people together across organization levels to develop and strengthen a sense of belonging among people from marginalized backgrounds.

(He, him pronouns)


The Social-Ecological Framework

Our workshops have been crafted to examine different levels of the Social Ecological Framework. This framework recognizes that while our ideas and behaviors are shaped by our environment, we have the power to reshape and influence the world around us. Whether your priorities are improving the cultural climate of your institution or better serving the needs of the diverse populations you serve, our trainings promote positive, measurable change within individuals and institutions


behaviors, beliefs, values, biases, education, knowledge and experiences


communication, microaggressions, cooperation, dynamics of power and privilege


staffing, leadership, conflict resolution, clients, policies, resource allocation


employment, education, transportation, housing, access to resources, health and social services

We are ready to help you create a respectful, inclusive workplace.



The Challenges

We all want safe and respectful workplaces, schools and communities…but when harassment, discrimination and bias arise, many well-meaning people don’t know what to do. Too often, they do nothing. This is known as the “bystander effect”. It can affect targets vulnerable to more harm and organizations at risk of damage to their mission and reputation.

Why Ethical Upstander Training©?

Human In Common’s Ethical Upstander Training© delivers a dynamic twist to conventional active bystander intervention trainings. Not only do we teach participants to respectfully intervene in biased or potentially harmful situations, we also teach participants to analyze situations through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Unlike typical diversity trainings that only focus on compliance, our training is a compassionate, experiential approach to practicing specific skills for effectively interrupting and preventing bias and harmful behavior. We teach strategies for creating a respectful and inclusive environment where all members feel welcome.

Unaddressed bias and harassment in the workplace, on campus, and in virtually every arena of public life is taking a heavy toll on the mental and physical wellbeing of the targets, and can have long-term consequences for the schools and organizations involved. We can and must do better. It starts with training that ensures that members of your community know how to respectfully, peacefully and electively intervene.

Using evidence-based materials, real-world scenarios and interactive participation, our programs will help your team to:

AMPLIFY leadership to ensure a productive and healthy environment

CREATE workplace norms based on respect and appreciation of diversity and inclusion

UTILIZE appropriate language and etiquette of respect and inclusion

DEVELOP skills for addressing conflict and engaging in challenging conversation

PRACTICE strategies to respectfully and effectively interrupt bias, discrimination and harassment

OPERATIONALIZE policies and practices that support diversity, equity, and inclusion

ENGAGE in allyship with those who have been historically targeted and marginalized

What Makes Human In Common Unique?

Our diversity trainings are rooted in active bystander intervention, identified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Forbes as being the most effective training method for creating inclusive, equitable and respectful workplaces. Supported by research and with attention to current events, our trainings engage participants with meaningful discussion and activities to:

  • Examine and un-learn bias
  • Develop skills to effectively respond to and prevent harassment and discrimination
  • Engage cultural humility to shift workplace culture
  • Create social norms based on respect, diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Exercise diversity and upstander skills by exploring real world scenarios
  • Use our template for respectfully engaging in challenging conversations
  • Operationalize diversity, equity and inclusion into policy and practice

All of our trainings are interactive and include: data, videos, skill-building exercises, partner and small group activities, templates for challenging conversations, scenarios and a toolkit for taking action. Participants leave our trainings with a certificate of attendance, increased social awareness, confidence, practical skills, useful material to bring back to their workplaces, and a renewed commitment to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on the job and within their various communities.

Participants leave our trainings with confidence, increased social awareness and specific skills to promote diversity, equity and inclusion at work and within their communities.

Our trainings can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your organization. We use a social ecological model and can focus our trainings on individual, interpersonal, organizational, community or systemic transformation. The following is a list of our training modules and sub-topics from which you may choose, mix and match. Trainings may be broken up into half-day segments and offered over a period of time to accommodate scheduling needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions. We would be happy to speak with you further to help your team select the right topics to match your interests, schedule and budget. In addition to the trainings described, we offer consultation, individual coaching, panel presentations and climate surveys.

Why Human In Common?

Testimonials From Our Participants


“Ethical Upstander© Training appeals because it is direct. The scenarios that we did at your workshop showed how individual bias or lack of awareness can lead to decisions that have a harmful impact in the community.

F. Perfas, Assistant Director
MA Dept. of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services


“Deborah plus Nia are two of the most talented, exceptional, effective, knowledgeable and dynamic trainers I have had the opportunity to learn from.”

2019 Participant
Interrupting Racism & Gender Discrimination


“Here is a great opportunity to learn how to proactively be on the right side, how to help when help is needed and, most importantly, how to live proudly with a clear conscience. Thank you Human in Common for building bridges when others are trying to build walls.

M. Ibrahim

“It’s not always enough to explain what constitutes harassment and what its consequences are. According to experts, it’s also essential to discuss bystander intervention and encourage employees to speak up when they see or hear of an abusive situation happening in the workplace.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported in 2017 that much of the training conducted in businesses over the last thirty years – which has focused primarily on legal compliance – has been ineffective in changing behaviors. Their research found that bystander training and civility training is most effective for preventing and responding to harassment in the workplace.