The Dignity and Respect Pledge

It’s pretty easy to take the Dignity and Respect Pledge. In fact, you can do it right here.

Honoring those words, though, remains the challenge of a lifetime.

Last night, led by Mayor Hanna and Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Karen Nelson, Appleton launched a campaign designed to inspire a city-wide focus on inherent dignity and mutual respect.

Their presentation celebrated the city’s historic efforts toward those goals, and highlighted the critical need for a continued push.

Police Chief Todd Thomas talked about the city’s attributes and friendly atmosphere. “But, not for everybody,” he said. “Not yet.”

The Dignity and Respect program offers three steps toward resolving some of those issues.

You’re asked to take the pledge and then practice the 30 tips of everyday behavior. These include such simple tasks as smiling, saying hello and thank you, and more complicated concepts like building trust and cultural awareness. Lastly, you’re asked to model the seven pillars of Dignity and Respect, which begin with self-awareness and end with doing the right thing.

You can find all of these steps and pillars at

Nearly 30 years ago Ron Dunlap, a former Chicago Bulls player who became the first African American principal in the Appleton Area School District, began each morning at Lincoln Elementary school by telling his students that they should, “Treat people the way you wish to be treated and always carry yourself with dignity and respect.”

Last night, the City of Appleton offered us all some specific ways to start our days in much the same manner. I’m looking forward to seeing how far we can go.

Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Karen Nelson has been generous in her acknowledgement of the work her predecessors have done in the 20 years the position has existed in Appleton, and she is also enthusiastic about moving the program forward.
Mayor Tim Hanna first witnessed the Respect and Dignity Campaign when he visited Pittsburgh and he’s excited to see what the program can bring to Appleton. He talked about Appleton’s “deep ethic of compassion.”
Appleton owes much to its mutually respectful association with Lawrence University. LU President Mark Burstein offered his support for the program (and a room and refreshments for its launch).
Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas is an enthusiastic supporter of the program as well.
Ron Dunlap became Appleton’s first African American principal in 1990. Today, he serves as a member of the Appleton Police and Fire Commission.
Representatives from many area businesses and charitable organizations including Harbor House, Voices of Men, the Warming Shelter, Goodwill Industries, and others all took the dignity and respect pledge.
Doctor Kimberly Barrett, Lawrence University’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, has worked closely with Karen Nelson on the Respect and Dignity campaign
Karen Nelson led the simple, verbal pledge. “I will do my part to make the City of Appleton a better place by treating everyone with dignity and respect.” You can take the pledge yourself on-line.

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