Humanity 101 In The Workplace


Dr. Neal Lester on Privilege and Bias Training - Channel 12 News (5 July 2015)



Selected Workshop Materials



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Workshop Description

This workshop speaks to workplace teams by analyzing and addressing systemic privilege and bias within communities, organizations, and businesses. Through the lens of race, class, gender, age, sexuality, religion, ability, and more, participants focus on the Humanity 101 values essential to personal and professional success-- compassion, integrity, respect, forgiveness, kindness, empathy, and self-reflection.

Initially a collaboration between Arizona State University's Project Humanities and its Founding DirectorDr. Neal A. Lester and Ms.Yvette Johnson, of the Booker Washington Project, this highly interactive and popular workshop addresses the intersections of various systems of privilege and the hidden biases that inform our personal decisions and professional behaviors. For a year, Lester and Johnson facilitated these community conversations across the state of Arizona—Flagstaff, Yuma, Ahwatukee, for instance--before being invited to work with all 400 members of the Tempe (AZ) Police Department during the summer of 2015.  Both Johnson and Lester now independently offer their individual perspectives, experiences, and strengths to this topic upon request.





We LOVED you and your [2 February 2017] presentation [on privilege and bias].  Yes, I would enjoy having you back as well.  We’ll have to work on that. As you noted, I just took the [Humanity 101] pledge and signed the form for the 1000+ petition movement.  I can’t wait to hear the theme song!

As I mentioned last night, I received some great takeaways.  I will mention two.  First, your ability to explain privilege and help the whole group embrace this was the first time I experienced this kind of discussion without a feeling of shaming.  Rather I felt empowered,  while more honest and aware of my privileges than any other time in recent years.  So, thank you!

Second, the exercise on the trusted 10 was enlightening.  Now the question is how does that circle enclose me at times as well as support me.  And the new work now is how can I stretch it so that my trusted circle truly can aid me in my commitment to live and foster a more diverse community on campus and in the division of student affairs at the University of Portland.  Practically, I am going to need to reach out, deep into the second and third circles, and make some serious connections.  Quite the challenge for me as an administrator, Catholic priest, and tucked away living on campus with students in a residence hall!   Nevertheless, I have some ideas and plans.  One step and one day at a time. 

Thanks again for the visit and the space to breathe—and the inspiration!

Rev. John J Donato, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Portland

Feedback from Workshop 3 - University of Portland: School of Business

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The Inclusive Excellence Speakers Series: Valencia College (Orlando, FL)

Teaching and Learning Academy 

(November 2016)

Feedback from Workshop 1 - Students, Faculty and Administrators

Feedback from Workshop 2 - School of Public Safety and the Orlando Police Department  



"I just wanted to thank you again for the seminar you conducted at Valencia [College] last week.  It was very eye-opening. You made me see a little deeper into my own soul.  I really admire your teaching style. It was a very open, inviting conversational tone and non-threatening, even on challenging questions. Also, your exhibits were right on point.  I, for one, could have spent the entire day or more delving into the topics you brought out.   It is work and we have to be committed to doing the work! You did a phenomenal job.  Keep it up." --Natasha J. Williams, Chief Assistant City Attorney, Orlando Police Department

“I would like to thank you again for presenting your workshops and I am honored to have had the opportunity to help as well as participate. Your message was enlightening, informative and very timely, considering the recent election and other matters continuing to occur in our society today. Thank you for what you do!”--Stella RossStaff Assistant II, Teaching and Learning Academy, Valencia College

"I hope you remember our very brief conversation last Thursday morning.  I was blown away by your work [public lecture on Humanity 101].  I go to many conferences and it is not easy to impress me.  We talked about how nurse educators give compassion and consideration to their students and patients, but not to each other.  I am writing to inquire about your availability for next June 16 back here in Orlando speaking before about 100-150 nurse educators on the issue of civility especially to colleagues….  We have had nurse educators speak about this, but I think you would bring a totally unique perspective that maybe we really need…. I think you are spreading a message, the world desperately needs to hear. Thank you so much."--Rise W. Sandrowitz, Dean of Nursing, Valencia College



Privilege Workshop - AZ Women's Conference

March 31, 2016


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ASU Police Department hosts law enforcement leadership event: Press Release

In the News

March 7, 2016


Campus law enforcement leaders from across the country are gathering at the ASU Tempe campus this week to learn about critical issues for policing in higher education.

The 2016 Executive Development Institute (EDI) is sponsored by IACLEA (The International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators). This year 42 executives, including three members of the Arizona State University Police Department,  participated in workshops March 2016.

“The Executive Development Institute is a program put on by IACLEA that brings in police executives from campuses across the country and internationally, said ASU Police Chief Michael Thompson. “There they collaborate and learn together about leadership development and current issues in university policing so they can stay on the cutting edge of current best practices.”

Neal A. Lester, ASU Foundation Professor of English and founding director of Project Humanities, was one of several presenters at EDI this year. Leaders in law enforcement and education from Arizona and across the country held presentations on topics including; leadership principles, police accountability and workforce diversity.

In conjunction with participating in EDI, the ASU Police Department hosed institution for the 2016 IACLEA Annual Conference and Exposition (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators). 

Workshop Photos:

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Dr. Lester, I wanted to say "Thank You" for the wonderful class (March 2017) during the EDI (Executive Development Institute) program.  Due to your teaching, I will begin to look at things differently. I feel that your program was presented well and I would love to have your program for my staff at the RI School of Design in Providence, RI.  I feel that as campus law enforcement professionals we are part of the education process for our students and with your program we may be able to understand a students perception. Someone's perception can be their reality.  I had the pleasure to serve as Mr. Harry Belfonte's personal security detail when he visited Rhode Island School of Design  and while he was lecturing, I remember him saying, "What are you willing to do for change". Again, I want to Thank You for a wonderful class. -- Respectfully, Lt. Antone Souza, Rhode Island School of Design, Department of Public Safety

"Dr. Lester, Your presentation was very informative and it made us all reflect on how we conduct ourselves while performing our duties daily.  Later that evening some us discussed the workshop, and we received a lot of information and resources that we can take back to our prospective departments.  I will be placing my name on the Pledge Honor Roll.  I took a picture with the humanities T-shirt in front of USC Tommy Trojan Mascot Fight On!!! Thank You." -- Officer S. Patterson, University of Southern California 

“Thank you for such a fabulous class!!”-- Michelle R. Ward, Operations Manager, Department of Public Safety, Idaho State University

"Thank you so much for your presentation last week. I really enjoyed it, and have found myself looking at the world through a bigger lens- thank you!" -- Robert Brems, Special Projects Coordinator, Arizona State University Police Department

"Thank you so much for coming and presenting this week. I have heard nothing but positive comments about your class. The people at MIT are going back and are going to ask their chief to bring you out there…. Thanks again and I will be in touch to bring you into the department as well. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do in this weary world.” Michael L. Thompson, Chief of Police, Arizona State University

“Thank you again for your time today and your commitment to bring these issues forward in a way that matters to each of us in our individual reality. I have never experienced an understanding of this issue to this level before, which tells me there is a great deal more to explore and understand. I also hope our paths will cross again and will include my employees and our campus stakeholders, who are most effected by the "systems" that shape our relationships with them.”--Ken Koch, Deputy Chief of Police, University of Colorado Police Department – Boulder

"Separate as the Fingers, Yet One as the Hand"

Are we losing our humanity? It’s a question Dr. Neal Lester has asked himself before, especially when following the news. “Sometimes I get discouraged and disillusioned,” he said. “As a humanist, I try to make sense of the world, and some things I just can’t make sense of.”
Lester, the founding director of Project Humanities at Arizona State University, visited the library in early October to lead a workshop for library staff and guests from local organizations, including District 97 and the Oak Park Township. The topic was privilege—what it is, who has it, and what to do about it—and challenged participants to look at themselves first rather than point fingers elsewhere, even in the face of cruelty and violence in the news.
“How do we look inwardly to understand what’s going on around us?” Lester asked those gathered in the library’s Veterans Room on October 9. “We may not be able to stop all the evil in the world, but we can control how we treat each other.”
The workshop, called “Privilege: Separate as the Fingers, Yet One as the Hand,” invited collaboration and interaction among staff from different government agencies. It was designed to “rethink traditional diversity training and show we are multiple things at one time,” Lester said. “We all have privilege. Having privilege and acknowledging bias are not inherently bad things.”
Lester’s visit coincided with the library’s Humanity 101 series this fall, which was originally developed by Project Humanities. The mission of Humanity 101, now in its second year at the library, is to bring diverse individuals and communities together to talk, listen, and connect.
Through discussion and group activities, Lester encouraged participants to examine their own unconscious biases, imagine the world through the eyes of others, and have “a critical conversation that’s not necessarily happening on Facebook.”
Activities included taking a closer look at the images and messages in children’s storybooks, and nudged participants to think beyond race. “When can we have a story where disability or difference isn’t the story?” he asked.
At the end of the workshop, Lester encouraged participants to take the Humanity 101 pledge and embrace the movement’s seven core values: integrity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, empathy, respect, and self-reflection.
Norb Teclaw, who taught physics for 30 years at Oak Park and River Forest High School and now leads the Institute for Science Education and Technology, said that he’s gone to a lot of diversity trainings over his career. “This is a good update,” he said. “It’s a modern update, and really welcomed. Every now and then you need an inoculation.”
Lynn Allen, who coordinates District’s 97’s Multicultural Education Department, also participated. Although she’s always thinking and talking about diversity in Oak Park’s elementary and middle schools, in everything from hiring new teachers to supporting transgender children at school, Allen said she was glad to participate.
“I like doing things like this,” she said. “I can see where my holes are, and take this learning to staff so they can be aware of issues and see how others are addressing diversity. We’re all on a spectrum of awareness. We all have a lot to continue to learn.”
Cynthia Landrum, the library’s Assistant Director for Public Services, said it’s this ripple effect of learning that she’s excited about. “We are learning with our community partners so that we can all serve the community of Oak Park and our surrounding neighbors that much better,” she said. “And our partners will take the learning back to their organizations and share what they've learned with their colleagues, and that's going to influence who knows how many people."
Lester said that the title of his workshop, “Separate as the Fingers, Yet One as the Hand,” borrows from a speech by Booker T. Washington and is meant to signify that movements are made up of diverse individuals. “I personally believe that progress can work best when individuals come together toward some greater cause that is bigger than themselves individually,” he said. “Success is about collaboration, and there is no success without connecting with others on some level.”

To take the Humanity 101 pledge and learn more, visit


Oak Park Public Library (outside Chicago), in second year of  ASU Project Humanities Humanity 101 partnership:
Oak Park Author Omar Yamini, Executive Director of the East Cleveland Public Library, Sheba Marcus-Bey, Dr. Neal Lester, Founding Director of ASU Project Humanities and David Seleb, Executive Director of the Oak Park Public Library — with Neal Lester.



“It was a high honor and a distinct privilege to be in your company during your Humanity 101 presentation at the Oak Park Public Library last Friday morning. I came away from your presentation with my mind ablaze with possibility. This community is greatly indebted to Cyndee Landrum and her crew for inviting you to present a much needed message about the value of humanistic reflection….   I really enjoyed your presence and your ideas. I especially liked the activity you did with children stories and nursery rhymes—that was wonderfully playful.” -- George Bailey, PhD, Associate Professor Emeritus of English, Columbia College, Chicago

“Thank you Dr. Lester for your program! It was one of the most meaningful programs that I did all year. You really made me think!”-- Leigh A. Tarullo, Assistant Manager of Adult & Teen Services / Special Collections Curator, Oak Park Public Library 

"There are things we can do to make the world a better place."

"Wouldn't say learned but reminded of compassion"

"That people with extreme difference can sit in the samew room and receive useful message"

"You don't have to understand something to accept it."

"Be introspective on my own personal biases and acknowledge that I have them."

"The issues he discussed are issues I am aware of and sensitive to, but it was helpful to reflect on them."

"Education and the education level of your parents/caregivers is a big determiner of your own privilege."

"The ways to move forward and respond to people's bias and privilege. It seems like conversation is dominated by what
problems exist without responses to these problems."

"Another way of looking at privilege"

"The experience was like a great innoculation for contiuing the Great conversation."

"To challenge assumptions to overcome invisible bias."

"The most important thing that I learned was that my experiences in/of/with the world are situated in multiple identities influenced by many positions of privilege and oppression. Asking people to prioritize their oppression and/or privilege is tantamount to saying, "Would you rather have your left or right foot cutoff?"

Tempe City Police Department: Press Release



Tempe Police/ASU anti-bias training builds on commitment to community

The Tempe Police Department is partnering with ASU’s Project Humanities to enhance understanding about the concept and practice of privilege, and how unconscious (implicit) bias influences behavior and everyday interactions.

To build on the department’s strong commitment to engaging with Tempe’s diverse community, Police Chief Tom Ryff requested Dr. Neal A. Lester and Yvette Johnson provide a three-hour Humanity 101 in the Workplace: Privilege and Bias” ( workshop training to every Tempe Police employee, totaling over 400 members.  Lester and Johnson have co-facilitated such workshops  together across Arizona and both speak to groups and organizations throughout the United States.

Lester is the Founding Director of the multiple award-winning university initiative, Project Humanities, which brings individuals and communities together to "talk, listen and connect." The Project’s successful Humanity 101 initiative promotes these shared values across professions, generations, and disciplines: respect, integrity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, empathy and self-reflection.

Johnson is an award-winning filmmaker, writer and professional speaker.

The Tempe Police Department has been proactive in ensuring that all employees treat members of our community with the utmost respect and dignity, regardless of race, national origin, gender, age, citizenship, sexual identity, religion, ethnicity or economic status.

Lieutenant Michael Pooley

Tempe Police Department

Office: (480)858-6087

In the News

Tempe chief: Debate on policing is good for communities

Tom Ryff , Special for The Republic |

6:41 a.m. MST May 28, 2015         

It is imperative that actions are taken to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, remedy what is currently broken, and reach a mutual understanding of what the mission of American policing is today and what it needs to be in the future.A great debate about the role of policing is taking place across our nation, and as a career police officer, I believe it needs to occur.

More than 200 years ago, the father of modern law enforcement, Sir Robert Peel, advanced his Principles of Modern Law Enforcement. His principles are just as relevant today as they were when first published. One of the most important being the principle that "police are the public and the public are the police."

This principle requires police agencies to engage in open, honest, timely and transparent communication with their community. It demands that all people — regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, religion or any other difference that makes this community great — are treated fairly with both dignity and respect.

Since becoming chief, my executive team and I have stressed the importance of police/community interaction and engagement; strategic planning with community involvement; diverse recruiting and hiring so that our organization better mirrors the community we serve; internal and external diversity and communication training for all members of our organization.

We've also implemented the nationally recognized "Blue Courage" curriculum to ensure our officers embrace the "guardian" mindset through physical, emotional and mental well-being; and, launched a social media unit to better communicate and engage with all facets of our community.

Similarly, post-Ferguson, every member of management has reviewed the U.S. Department of Justice Report on Ferguson PD as well as the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Report.

Additionally, the Tempe Police Department has been working to implement body cameras for all of our officers; a multi-year project that includes developing policy, selecting a vendor, implementing and training on the new technology and conducting significant community outreach.

The implementation of body worn cameras was funded and approved last year by the City Council. In addition, our department and the Spokane, Wash. Police Department have partnered with Arizona State University in a study to determine the impact of body-worn police cameras.

Further, we have contracted with ASU to provide several Project Humanities workshops for employees on the topic of Bias and Privilege. We have also scheduled Dr. Lorie Fridell, an internationally recognized expert on Fair and Impartial Policing from the University of South Florida, to provide training to our staff and community members.

We continue to rely on our Citizens' Panel for the Review of Police Complaints to ensure that serious incidents and disputed complaints have the oversight and involvement of community members.

Based upon our continuing commitment to serving our community, the Tempe Police Department has worked hard to achieve an 80 percent citizen satisfaction rating in our last community survey.

These efforts and others, have been recognized by the NAACP, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Tempe Human Relations Commission, One Community LGBT and just this month, by the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial Foundation for our service and commitment to the community.

Successes notwithstanding, policing across our nation is moving toward positive and necessary change and we must continue to evolve — as individuals, as community members and as an organization.

The Tempe Police Department has been, and will continue to be, a leader in procedural justice and community trust; not by accident, but by design.

We understand that the values and actions of every Tempe Police employee impacts human lives and we depend on our community to hold us accountable. Along with our families, we too are a part of the diversity of Tempe.

We know that our community trusts and supports us only so long as we remain committed to justice and strive to approach the job with integrity, fairness and respect each and every day, with each and every interaction.

Tom Ryff has served as Tempe police chief since 2006.

External URL:

Letters of Recommendation: 

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Black man sues City of Tempe, alleges racial profiling

Giuliani should take the ASU humanity pledge

Tempe police workshop explores how diversity training can help prevent unconscious bias

Tempe officers take bias, privilege training - 12 News

ASU humanities leader hosts privilege workshop for Tempe Police - The State Press

Tempe City Police: Annual Report 2014

Highlights from the report:

Project Humanities
Second, the Department contacted Dr. Neal Lester, the founding director of Arizona State University’s award winning Project Humanities.Dr. Lester is an expert on human relations, with extensive experience on topics involving community and respect. In an effort to establish a greater partnership with Project Humanities, a cohort of employees participated in Dr. Lester’s “Perils andPerks of Privilege” workshop. Through facilitated exercises, group discussion, and personal reflection, participants explored topics of diversity and inclusion from the perspective of privilege. This workshop acknowledges that we all come from different types of privilege, which molds our thinking, perceptions, and bias. Due to the success of this program, the department intends to provide the same workshop for the entire organization in the summer of 2015.

Read the full report: Click here

Interview (July 2015)

Jonathan Coronel, Reporter, Wrangler News (Tempe):  What was the most important or maybe most shocking thing you learned at the training?
Commander Noah Johnson, Tempe Police Department: The workshop conducted by Dr. Neal Lester and Ms. Yvette Johnson, Humanity 101 in the Workplace: Privilege and Bias, really brought to life how everyone has different experiences and privileges or lack thereof that develops the filter they look through that establishes where an individual begins in life and progresses through life. This view builds natural hidden biases that affect how a person reacts to any given incident or defines a moment in their life. To make this experience more complex in America, there are systems in place that put some people at a disadvantage and others at an advantage compounding the issues and clouding individual filters even more.
Law enforcement employees have a common experience that binds us together but even in that joint experience we are all individuals.  The class was presented in such a way that even through the strong law enforcement culture we all come different places that may affect how we interact with each other internally.
Jonathan Coronel, Reporter, Wrangler News (Tempe):  How do you take what you learned and apply it to your job and make sure it is implemented across the department?
Commander Noah Johnson, Tempe Police Department: Just understanding that all humans have natural hidden bias and different experiences of privilege is huge first step. Recognizing this in yourself and others will help police officers interact with community members at a higher level than we may have had before. Police officers are typically introduced into crisis and crisis moments and we have to immediately make the incident safe which appears aggressive in nature but necessary because there so many unknowns for us. The officers then must transition to being an independent investigator and attempt to find the truth in any given situation, which as you can imagine typically is very difficult. However our job goes beyond arresting suspects  and enforcing laws we are also there as a support structure for the community.
I truly believe people want police officers to be their heroes and they want that trust and connection to law enforcement. As  a police officer, I need to go beyond the facts and take time to listen and understand the challenges of individuals and the communities I police. As a police commander, I need to ensure my officers understand they have permission to police in the good times. Don’t wait for a crisis to interact, reach out and be part of the community when things are going well and build that trust and open dialogue. Be intentional about involving yourself with community and individuals different than your own and learn about others struggles and successes.  Through this process, law enforcement can have better situational awareness when responding to those crisis moments, as you will ask better questions, develop a higher level of empathy and be hungry for understanding.
There is a real bias against police officers as well. But as an police officer we need to understand this is not about us personally. There have been officers who have made poor decisions and so the uniform is painted with a broad brush. However, as individual officers we can make a difference by listening to the concerns, connecting on the individual level, and challenge those hidden biases and larger biased systems. Through this, the true heart and mind of most police officers can be revealed that we care for the citizens we serve and seek to do our job the best we can.

Article in Jackson Herald , June 23, 2015


    • "Thank you again for meeting with us for our Fellows’ Forum. We enjoyed hearing from you on how we all “practice” humanities and how Project Humanities is advancing your ideas of putting humanities into practice. We also liked hearing about how our subconscious bias plays into our treatment of others and our choices of language. Thank you!" --2015-2016 Innovation Fellows: Lindsey Beagley, Ted Cross, Brittney Paulk, and Madison Sandy (Arizona State University)


    • “I enjoyed your training and discussion. I believe it is not only timely, but also relevant given the current atmosphere in policing.” --Lieutenant Ruben Quesada, Hiring and Community Engagement, Mesa Police Department


    • “As for the training, it was very, very good.  The opening (line exercise) sets the stage for the entire day.  I'd like to recommend this training to my chief and others.”--Commander Andre C. Anderson, Criminal Investigations Division, Glendale Police Department


    • “Thank you for providing the valuable training to our department.  I'm also looking forward to our partnership.”-- Commander David Humble, Tempe Police Department


    •  “I had the opportunity to attend your privilege and Bias class that was held today at the Tempe Police Department and I would like to personally thank you guys, I mean, you both for bringing such an important  matter to the forefront. I was completely blown away by the privilege activity that was conducted outside.  It really brought things into perspective for me.   Everyone starting in a straight line and then due to various circumstances,  you find yourself behind or, if you are  lucky enough, in front of your starting point.  This activity was brilliant!  The visual experience is one that I will never forget and hopefully others that participated,  share my feeling. The class offered so much and I’m still trying to digest all the information but I want you both to know that the class was outstanding. … I wish you both continued success.” --V. Denise Collins, Fingerprint Tech, Forensic Services Unit, Tempe Police Department 
    • Thank you for having me in your class.  I appreciate the opportunity to observe and participate.  Your work in the area of humanities and privilege is impressive.  I know you made an impact on me and the passion you have for the topics are contagious. I will get you my notes next week and I look forward to working with you.”—Sergeant Diana Clevenger, Mesa Police Department