Our Team
Our Framework
Our Approach
Our Blog


Nialena Ali, BA

Cofounder, Director of Research & Development

Nialena (Nia) is the Cofounder and Director of Research and Development at Human In Common. Her background is in critical race theory, violence prevention and international development. Prior to Human In Common, Nia lived in the Middle East as a representative of the U.S. Department of State and directed an international educational program in West Africa. She has worked in healthcare and disability services and facilitated anti-violence workshops in state prisons. Since 2017, she has been providing diversity training and consultation to nonprofit and business professionals across the US and internationally.

(She, her pronouns)

Deborah Cohen, M.Ed.

Cofounder, Executive Director

Deborah Cohen is the Cofounder and Executive Director of Human In Common. By training, she is a high school social studies teacher with a focus in social justice education. Prior to Human In Common, she worked in human services and directed disability services offices on college campuses. Since 2017, she has been providing diversity training and consultation to nonprofit and business professionals across the US and internationally.

(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)

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)


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.

We Practice What We Teach

Commitment to Accessibility and Inclusion

Human In Common is committed to providing accessible services and resources in the most usable format to people with a range of disabilities. We design our trainings and website to meet or exceed the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and WCAG 2.1 standards. If you have questions about the accessibility of our services, would like to request an accommodation for one of our upcoming trainings or if you experience an accessibility barrier on our website, please contact us at info@humanincommon.com

Diversity Spending Commitment

As a diversity company, we are committed to purchasing goods and services from companies owned by people of marginalized social identities. We begin by searching the state’s supplier diversity website for certified diversity vendors. If none are available, we check the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce’s directory and research businesses in our community owned and operated by people of color, women, LGBTQ, disabled, and veterans.

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.