Meet Dignity and Respect Champion Jesse McLean

Jesse McLean isn’t exactly a globetrotter. He has spent the bulk of his life in Philadelphia, where he grew up, and Pittsburgh, where he now lives. But as the executive director of Every Child, Inc., Jesse understands how to navigate different cultures.

“Every time we go into a family’s home, we go into another culture,” said Jesse, whose organization works to develop and strengthen family relationships. “That’s why our job is so difficult and so amazing, because we’re going into homes where the culture isn’t predictable.” 
Jesse McLean was nominated to be a Dignity & Respect Champion by Jada Shirriel, Every Child’s director of marketing and development. With Every Child, Jesse offers a variety of services for birth, foster and adoptive families, as well as children with special needs. One such program arranges supervised visits between birth parents and children placed in foster homes.
“Imagine the shame, fear, guilt, and regret that a parent may feel when he or she loses custody of a child,” Jada said. “Jesse ensures that birth parents utilizing Every Child’s family visit space are treated with the dignity and respect that they need to gain, restore, or model positive parenting interaction with their child.”
Jesse says understanding others’ differences is essential to his work. It’s important not to impose one’s values on others, he said, especially when doing so can be hurtful or disrespectful. In his work he tries to foster communication that leads to stronger relationships based on mutual appreciation.
“If everybody treats everyone with kindness and consideration, then no one would have to touch the stove to realize it’s hot,” Jesse said. “Everybody would think about things before they actually do them.”
While Jesse has been with Every Child since November 2009, that wasn’t the start of his work with youth. In 1999, he helped create the VULCAN summer program at California University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater. The program-whose acronym stands for vision, understanding, leadership, civility, academics, and nutrition-offers college preparation to sixth-graders. 
Jesse said it’s best to work with kids when they’re young to build a solid future. The program has sent more than 125 students to CAL U and covered their tuition. The graduation rate-100 percent.
“You need time for these kids to engage with you,” he said. “Once middle-school kids engage with you, they’ll follow you to the end of earth.” 
Growing up in Philadelphia, Jesse said, was what caused him to go into his line of work. 
“I saw a lot of unfortunately negative things,” he said. “I always knew that whenever I got older I wanted to create life-impacting experiences for kids, because I knew that I wasn’t seeing that where I came from. I knew what was missing. So I said, ‘Wherever I go, wherever I wind up, whatever community I’m in, I’m going to make life-impacting experiences for kids.’ ” 
A Penn Hills resident with a son who serves in the military, Jesse said dignity and respect guide his actions both at work and in everyday life. He credited his dedicated staff with helping to create an inclusive workplace.
“Sometimes the little things–just to say thank you, just to say ‘I appreciate what you’ve done’-are what creates a positive culture,” he said. 

Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award!  Follow the link to get started:

May’s Dignity & Respect Champion: Charlie Batch

Congratulations to Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch, May’s Dignity & Respect Champion! 

When he’s not on the football field, Pittsburgh Steeler Charlie Batch can be found working with his non-profit, Best of the Batch Foundation, and attending and helping out with community events and activities.The work Charlie does in the community is limitless. In November, Charlie joined Ryan and the Dignity & Respect Campaign at the Thanksgiving Turkey Fixings Giveaway, where they donated dinner fixings to 100 families in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Also, Charlie was a secret Santa and delivered toys and household items to 30 families this past Christmas Eve.
Along with two Superbowl Championships, Charlie has received numerous awards including the first Jerome Bettis Award for Humanity and Community Service in 2006, the Schramm-McCracken Prize in 2002, and the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award, also in 2006. Among those great achievements, he feels that the Champion award is unique.
Charlie’s life motto is “Proper preparation prevents poor performance,” which is reflected in the work of the Best of the Batch Foundation. The Foundation is committed to providing underprivileged youth and their families resources to help them succeed in their lives, and serves the Homestead neighborhood.
Some of the educational programs the Foundation provides include the Reading and Computer Literacy Program, where kids work in the Foundation’s computer lab to improve their math and science skills, and more. There is also Project C.H.U.C.K. (Continuously Helping Uplift Community Kids), where girls and boys 7-18 years old play 20 basketball games in attempt to make it to the Championship game, as long as they read and attend study halls.
Charlie is a significant supporter of the Campaign and serves as the spokesman for Dignity & Respect for Youth. Last October, he hosted the Dignity & Respect Youth Day with Ryan Mundy, where they talked with more than 2,000 kids about bullying, teamwork, and the value of treating everyone with dignity and respect. The event was so successful that he is already on board to host the 2012 teleconference this year, again in October, which is Dignity & Respect Month.
“My family and friends are big believers in the Campaign, and we continue to apply the structure of dignity and respect in our daily lives and spread it throughout the city of Pittsburgh,” Charlie said.
Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award!

April Dignity & Respect Champion: Dr. Magi Berger


Congratulations to Dr. Magi Berger, April’s Dignity & Respect Champion! Every morning at Clairton Elementary, students listen to five of their peers state over the loud speaker how they are going to practice dignity and respect that day. After just one year as principal, Dr. Magi Berger has instilled the values of inclusion into the school, and they are reflected all day, every day.

“From bully behavior, to poverty, to abuse and neglect, and many other trials that life is full of for our students, it becomes even more important to role-model dignity and respect. We as educators are positioned to influence so many lives. Each time we take such opportunity we are that much more likely to be the special person in their lives that they remember long after schooling. We may be that voice in their minds pushing them toward greatness or helping them make it to college, trade school, or beyond,” said Dr. Berger.

As a resident of the North Hills, Dr. Berger came to Clairton Elementary after working at Pittsburgh Public Schools. Since becoming principal, Dr. Berger, staff, and faculty have adopted “Dignity & Respect for Everyone and Everything” as the school’s theme, and promote it on report cards and newsletters. Through contests and ceremonies the students are rewarded for good behavior and grades with cupcake parties and t-shirts.

Recognizing the significance of simple acts of kindness, Dr. Berger offers a helping hand whenever she sees the opportunity. She believes that these actions begin with an individual and extends to others as a pay-it-forward deed.  

Dr. Berger feels that if everyone showed value and recognition toward each other, we can bring communities together, resulting in a more vibrant and positive home for everyone.

Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award!

March’s Dignity & Respect Champion: Dwan Walker

Congratulations Dwan Walker , this month’s Dignity & Respect Champion!


When his sister, Deidre Walker, was killed in 2009, Dwan Walker knew he had to do something to make Aliquippa safe and welcoming for all. Before she died, Deidre gave Dwan the encouragement to take a stand.  He took that to heart.  He and his twin brother Donald both ran for public office in Aliquippa, and they won! Dwan is the first African American mayor of Aliquippa, and Donald is a member of city council.

Dwan took office on January 3rd and is determined to revitalize the city he calls home. He is continuously out in the community talking to residents, hearing their concerns and taking requests about how to make Aliquippa better. 

“I say there’s no idea or no dream that is too small. If someone makes a suggestion about the city, I respect anything they say and work with them to find a solution together. Many times people aren’t treated that way by public officials. My constituents tell me it’s a breath of fresh air when they come into my office,” he said

Dwan feels that treating others consideration and compassion can make an important positive impact in a community and Aliquippa is a prime example. He notices that since he took office, people are more open about sharing their ideas, hopes, and wishes, because they feel they actually have a say in how the town is run. Dwan makes sure he shows the utmost respect to everyone.  

Currently an account executive at FedEx, Dwan is a life-long Aliquippa resident with two daughters. In addition to being recognized as a Dignity & Respect Champion, Dwan has received other awards including the Jefferson Award for Public Service and the 2011 50 Men of Excellence Award. He is humbled by being selected a Champion and attributes his parents for teaching him at an early age to value all people. 

Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award!

Rosemary Anderson is the February Dignity & Respect Champion!


Congratulations Rosemary Anderson, this month’s Dignity & Respect Champion! Rosemary Anderson “believes in kindness” and has dedicated the past five years to writing cards and buying books with some of her own money as a disabled Air Force veteran to send to lonely prisoners around the United States.

Spring Grass Book’em is a books-to-prisoners program that mails books to inmates nationwide. Currently, it is not yet tax-deductible, but all donations received go toward postage, packing tape, books, and more. The program works to help imprisoned people who have been abandoned by their families, don’t have access to the library, or anyone incarcerated who wants to learn any subject or skill. The volunteers at Spring Grass Book’em urge that books can change lives and minds, and can therefore change society for the better.

Rosemary feels many people in society disrespect themselves and each other, especially the prisoners.  She believes that treating each other with dignity and respect is healing and it helps everyone expand in new directions.

Tip #10 – “Be a Relationship Builder” this Valentine’s Day



This Valentine’s Day reach out to all your loved ones to show them Dignity & Respect. And while your add it, why not add some new friends and colleagues to your circle! Here are some tips to help you build relationships this Valentine’s Day

  • Send a personalized, hand-made card. Say what you feel and let it come authentically from the bottom of your heart
  • Give the gift of health! Prepare a healthy snack for your school, your office, or sign up for a couple’s exercise class.
  • Help out! Do a chore for a friend, neighbor, or loved one. Help a stranger at the grocery story with her packages. Or simply hold a door open for a fellow patron.
  • Say “Hello” to someone new.
  • Call as many of your contacts as you can and just check in with them.

Do you have any ideas on how to reach out this Valentine’s Day? Share them with us!

Announcing the 2011 Dignity & Respect Champion: Dr. Maya Angelou



The Dignity & Respect Campaign is proud to announce Dr. Maya Angelou as the first annual Dignity & Respect Champion. Dr. Angelou — celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist — is recognized for her lifelong commitment to making the world a better place for all to live.

Candi Castleberry-Singleton, founder and chair of the Dignity & Respect Campaign, presented the Dignity & Respect Champion award to Dr. Angelou at her home in North Carolina.

“Maya Angelou has demonstrated unshakable faith and a commitment to the values of family, community, and culture throughout her life. Whether as a cable car conductor, a waitress and cook, a dancer with the Alvin Ailey company, an editor of an English Language paper in Egypt, a coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, or a Presidential Medal of Arts winner, Dr. Angelou values all members of the human family,” said Ms. Castleberry-Singleton. “She exemplifies the characteristics of a Dignity & Respect Champion.”

During their time together, Dr. Angelou’s brilliance filled the room as she reflected on four themes:

· The meaning of dignity and respect

· Living with dignity and respect

· The human condition

· Courage

We invite you to view videos of Dr. Angelou’s comments to Ms. Castleberry-Singleton, available at

Do you know an individual who makes a positive impact and promotes an environment of inclusion? If so, nominate the person in your life you feel has made a difference for the Dignity & Respect Champion Award!

Be a Coach!



Are you a coach or would you like to become a coach? Coaching a local kids’ sport or intramural team is a great way to give back to your community while having a personal impact on the lives of young people. Here are some tips to get you started courtesy of

1. Be Positive! When you provide criticism, put something positive with it. Say a baseball player missed a grounder. Example: “Nice effort on that grounder Billy, next time remember to get your glove all the way to the ground. Good Job!” Sandwich constructive criticism with positive re-enforcement.

2. Make it Fun! As a coach, you must make the game fun! That does not mean that there is no discipline and no goal of winning. It means you have fun while teaching them a game with discipline included and a goal of winning. Handle wins and losses in a respectful manner. We’re talking about children, not professionals, so keep it light but organized.

3. Goals and Expectations! Talk to your players at the beginning of the season; ask them what THEIR goals and expectations are. Emphasize their goals are not necessarily their parents, and not yours either. Ask each player to write down their goals and bring them to practice. Give examples such as: become a better power hitter; improve my fielding; become a better blocker or tackler; improve my free throws. Encourage them to stay away from statistical goals such as: hit 20 home runs; score 12 touchdowns; score 20 points in a game. Review their goals with them on an individual basis throughout the course of the season.

4. You are the Coach! Make sure they understand that they are there to learn a game and you’re going to help them become better players. They MUST pay attention when you are demonstrating drills and limit the goofing off. A simple warning, then a lap around the field if they didn’t respond to your warning usually works. There is no need to raise your voice or embarrass the player.

5. The Three R’s! Teach your players The Three R’s. RESPECT the game (including coaches and officials) ; RESPECT their team mates, and RESPECT their parents. Share this with parents and expect the same from them. They need to remember they are an example for their children. Yelling negatively at the official, the other team or their child does not show RESPECT.

Find the full list of tips here: along with great advice on how to get your coaching mentorship started!

Mentoring Spotlight: the YMCA



Mentoring is an easy way to make a real difference in the life of a child. This month, we are spotlighting various mentoring organizations in order to encourage everyone to share their knowledge and love to instill Dignity & Respect in the next generation.

This month, in honor of Mentoring Month, YMCAs across the country are recruiting for their Building Futures Mentoring Program.

Our Building Futures Mentoring Program is one of our most rewarding services, and we are always in need of trained mentor volunteers.

We have so many great kids, ages 6 to 18 in your community, who are at risk due to low self-esteem, social isolation, family problems, etc.,—who just need a friend, a role model, a hero. A person who can spend a little time sharing interests, listening and ultimately raising a child’s self-confidence and outlook on life. You would be amazed at what an afternoon at the ball game or a trip to the park can do for a child in need of adult companionship and guidance.

Learn more about a YMCA program near you here:

Mentoring Spotlight: Junior Achievement




Mentoring is an easy way to make a real difference in the life of a child. This month, we are spotlighting various mentoring organizations in order to encourage everyone to share their knowledge and love to instill Dignity & Respect in the next generation.

This week we are showcasing Junior Achievement. Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to developing career readiness and a healthy work ethic in young people, as well as encouraging enthusiasm about entrepreneurship.

Junior Achievement programs help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Students put these lessons into action and learn the value of contributing to their communities.

JA’s unique approach allows volunteers from the community to deliver our curriculum while sharing their experiences with students. Embodying the heart of JA, our 382,637 classroom volunteers transform the key concepts of our lessons into a message that inspires and empowers students to believe in themselves, showing them they can make a difference in the world.

If you would like to learn more, check out their site here: