Meet Our Staff


Deborah Cohen, M.Ed.
Human in Common Founder & Director

For over 30 years, Deborah has been an educator and activist for diversity, equity and inclusion. She has leadership experience in education, human service and small business including: Mount Holyoke College, Western Connecticut State University, Paradise Dance and Stavros Center for Independent Living. Deborah is a fierce advocate for marginalized communities and builds bridges through teaching, arts programming and meaningful community collaborations. Whether training student teachers, seasoned college professors or business professionals, Deborah is a dynamic, motivational speaker who helps organizations and individuals make positive change.



Nialena Ali
HIC Assistant Director

I come from a very artistic and politically conscious community, and issues of injustice and concerns for humanity have always been dinnertime conversations.

My interest in multiculturalism was truly sparked when I traveled to Southeastern Turkey as part of a U.S. Department of State initiative to improve citizen diplomacy between the U.S. and Muslim communities. That experience showed me the problems that can arise when people lack exposure to different cultures and hold biases against those who look different from themselves. Conversely, it showed me the profound impact that cultural exchange can have on individuals and communities. 

While at Mount Holyoke College, I continued traveling and exploring such issues and I studied at the School for International Training in South Africa, where I conducted feminist research and creative healing sessions for a woman of color who survived domestic abuse & apartheid. Following that, I worked to build community and promote positive coping skills in mens' prisons throughout Massachusetts with the Alternatives to Violence Project. My work to address issues of injustice & create stronger communities continues today through my work with Human In Common.