Bernice Humphrey

Bernice Humphrey
Associate Director, Program and Training Services, Girls Inc.


I think one of the most important issues facing the African American community today is health – and I’m not talking just about our bodies, but our mind and spirits as well. We do so many things that are destructive to us as individuals and as a community, even while we put so much effort into looking good or a certain way. How one respects and appreciates oneself is the foundation of our health—and issues that we at Girls Inc. address with girls in numerous ways, through programming in areas such as health and sexuality and media literacy, and by making sure that our staff and volunteers can be effective mentors and role models for girls.


Professionally, I’m inspired by the girls that Girls Inc. serves to provide our affiliates with the best, most relevant programming to address the challenges today’s girls and young women are facing as they pave their away to productive adulthood. These girls have dreams and often don’t have the support or means to realize their potential. This is a lot of what the Girls Inc. Experience provides.

Personally, and at the risk of sounding cliché, my parents inspired me to make the most of my talents and to not make excuses. Like many other baby boomer parents—especially black parents—they sacrificed a great deal to make sure that I could grow up safe and achieve more than they had dreamed possible for themselves.


Not to take things too personally—it’s about doing the best for Girls Inc., for the girls we serve, and for the community. I heard that, when Quincy Jones was rehearsing “We are the world” with all the megastars who participated, he had posted a sign that said something like “Leave your egos outside.” I liked that. It’s great to have pride in your work, but pride should not stand in the way of doing what’s best.
I try to really listen to what others are saying and thinking, really hear not only the words, but attend to the emotion as well. I help others think of alternatives when they are having difficulty seeing their way through challenges. The other thing that is important to me is to give credit where credit is due—and show appreciation for what others have done. I believe when people feel appreciated for their efforts, they are inspired to do it again, or perhaps even more. This is something we want Girls Inc. girls to understand, as well.

I’ve also learned the importance of maintaining balance. I do a lot of “brain” work, so I try to balance it with some physical work. I have been studying taekwondo for over 23 years and have a fifth degree black belt. I also enjoy working out. I’m also making family and friends a higher priority and find more time to focus on my spiritual side.


Strength Finders 2.0 by Tom Rath, Bell Hooks’ Salvation: Black People and Love, and James Patterson’s 11th Hour—my guilty pleasure is reading spy thrillers and CSI-type murder mysteries.


It’s great to have career goals and paths, but when starting out, I think it’s important to be open to possibilities and find your passion. So many of us end up doing something totally different than what we went to school for. That’s not failure; if it’s a better fit for our talents and spirits, it’s a huge success.

My degrees are in psychology and health services administration. My jobs have ranged from starting a federally funded clinic in rural Georgia to working for a consumer-owned cooperative HMO to now helping Girls Inc. girls in all aspects of their development. Empowering others has always been a part of my job.


I’m very analytical – I can look at things from a variety of perspectives and at different levels and see the connections between seemingly disparate things. In helping to develop Girls Inc. programming, I work with a great team of folks to use many strategies to give and reinforce positive experiences and messages to girls about who they are, who they can be, and what they are capable of doing.


I earned a Masters in Health Services Administration from University of Michigan School of Public Health.