My first memory in life is of my mom holding me up as a human shield to get my dad to stop beating her. I was just 2-years-old. We ended up in that moment because my parents were never valued and so they didn’t value themselves—instead they were abused and abusive. They got caught in a cycle of disrespect. And on most days, they lacked empathy for themselves and others. By the time my father was 19, he was drug addict in federal prison. By the time she was 16, my mother was pregnant and had dropped out of high school. And by the time I was a teenager, I was destined toward a similar fate. What my parents needed—what I needed—was more respect. And true respect starts on the inside. I took a detour from destruction toward my destiny when I made this “respect” connection. Today our mission at The Respect Institute is to make respect status quo so youth can reach their potential, thrive in safe schools and communities, and ultimately spread respect as leaders of social change.
My official bio: COURTNEY MACAVINTA is Co-Founder and CEO of The Respect Institute (Ri) whose mission is to give youth and their influencers tools to build self-respect so they can end cycles of disrespect and thrive. Courtney is a domestic violence survivor whose multi-racial family struggled for respect amid issues like substance abuse, incarceration, high-school dropout and teen pregnancy. As a young adult, her mission became to create a world where “respect for all” is the status quo. A nationally recognized youth development expert, Courtney is co-author of the best-selling book, RESPECT, and led the creation of groundbreaking self-respect building tools, such as The Respect Basics, used by more than 20,000 youth and their influencers in schools, jails, and prevention/intervention programs around the globe for the past decade. She’s been featured by CNN, ABC, National Public Radio, USA Today, Teen Vogue and others. Additionally she’s been tapped as a resource by the White House, the Clinton Global Initiative, and organizations such as the Girl Scouts of the USA. Most recently she was a top-five national finalist for the American Express NGen Leadership Award and was named the 2014 Local Hero Award Winner by Cosmopolitan for Latinas. by Courtney has a B.A. in Journalism from San Francisco State University and is a certified co-active coach (CPCC). A native of San Jose, she lives there with her husband, Jeremy, and 4-year-old son, Tru.