The Dignity Institute was born because Founders, Michele Simos and Paul Weisman, wanted to make the world a better place. They intuitively knew if they could help even a few people—the ripple effect could be nothing short of amazing.
Plus, they had a special gift called “SMART Conversations®,” which they had used within the corporate world to help people who work together “feel the love” for each other. Of course, they didn’t present it that way. Ultimately, they have facilitated learning experiences with more than 6,000 people, most of whom agree it has transformed their life.
According to Michele, “we can all find a lot wrong with the world, and we wanted to build on something that is right with it. We are consistently in awe of the creativity, intelligence, resolve and resilience of the human spirit. And, we wanted to open the doors to that remarkable force within each of us. Through our heart-mind-spirit work, we have seen people go from feeling helpless or less than to stepping into their power.”
Paul says, “We knew we had something special, and it felt socially unjust to make it available to only private organizations that could afford to hire us. So, we developed the concept of The Dignity Institute, a 501(c)3 organization, because the heart of our work focuses on empowering those without a voice.”
They realized that they did not have the expertise to serve every community in need, and they decided it made better sense to help the human services nonprofits become efficient and effective first. Then, through a “Train-the-Trainer” program, they teach those organizations to conduct learning experiences for the people they serve.
At the same time, they envisioned The Dignity Institute, they were trying to find a way to expose teens to the concepts of SMART Conversations®. When they met a couple of very talented rap artists and an urban dancer who shared their vision for giving underserved youth a positive path in life, they co-developed their signature youth program, The 7th Element™.
Together, with the support of community partners, foundations, individuals and companies, The Dignity Institute offers its programming at low- to no-cost. They deliver SMART Conversations® so that every human being has the opportunity to be treated with dignity and to reach their potential.
Will Morales, former Executive Director of the Egleston Square Y (photo above), gave us our first opportunity to showcase our spoken word/rap and dance classes. We will always remember Will’s generosity.