Mike Dilbeck, CSP

As a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Mike is a leading expert on courage and dignity. Through RESPONSE ABILITY, he empowers students to stand up, step in, and speak out for what’s right — to show courage. Through DignityU, he empowers students to focus on building others up rather than tearing them down — to honor dignity. He is leading these two movements to equip students with the elements and actions necessary to make a positive impact on campus and society, overcome bystander behavior, and honor the value and worth of all human beings.


▪Bystander Intervention ▪Character Development ▪Confrontation Skills
▪Leadership ▪Risk Management ▪Value


▪DignityU: Building Up or Tearing Down
▪RESPONSE ABILITY: A Call for Courage


Mike is leading a movement to equip students with the strengths and actions necessary to make a positive impact on campus and personal issues, overcome bystander behavior and demonstrate courage!

Mike stresses the importance of standing up, stepping in and speaking out based on your values and core commitments. He truly believes that seizing an opportunity to act can dramatically change the campus community and allow all of us to make the difference we want to make. Mike helps your students understand the far-reaching impact of being a passive bystander to problem behaviors and empowers them to tap into their core commitments and show courage. In his interactive keynotes and workshops, he equips students with easily digestible knowledge and actions to challenge the negative behaviors they see around them every day—and to inspire others to do the same. In 2008, in a partnership with renowned academic and researcher Dr. Alan Berkowitz, Mike released an educational, reality-based film on bystander intervention entitled, RESPONSE ABILITY. This project caused a flurry of activity and requests around this phenomenon.

The program has been used on over 250 campuses and in the programming for 43 NIC/NPC/PFA groups, and went on to win awards within the higher education community (2009 Laurel Wreath from NIC and 2009 Fellow from FEA) as well as the International Telly Award. It has now evolved into an educational and empowerment initiative. Mike has now launched the latest evolution of this message entitled: RESPONSE ABILITY: A Call for Courage —a blend of leadership development and bystander intervention training. A movement away from the shame and regret we all feel from being a passive bystander to any injustice or wrongdoing. A movement towards a whole new world where people are standing up, stepping in, and speaking out against inappropriate, abusive, or unhealthy behaviors. A movement based on a creed that challenges, inspires, and moves people to action.

Promotional Resources

Mike’s Bio

Mike is a Dallas-based filmmaker turned advocate. Since 1990, he has created educational projects aimed at empowering young people. Over the past three decades, he has produced more than 75 educational and promotional film projects for Higher Education organizations — earning awards and a reputation for challenging negative social norms in college student communities.

He now dedicates himself full-time as the leader of RESPONSE ABILITY and DignityU. He is a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity and founded his chapter at Texas Christian University, where he now serves as Chapter Advisor and Chairman of the Alumni Advisory Board. He also served his national fraternity as Assistant Executive Director. Mike is a member of the National Speakers Association and holds the designation of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) — the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform competence and is held by less than 12 percent of speakers worldwide.


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“Mike is a professional first, and then dynamic speaker second. He earns his credibility by citing research, telling a personal story as a great example of what not to do in a situation, and then provides momentum that builds until the very end. Mike was able to help many find their voice.”

Brian Tenclinger

Triangle Fraternity

“Mike was the ultimate professional and speaker through and through. Our students were engaged from start to finish during his keynote, and many students expressed that it changed their perception of their role and responsibility in situations where they can intervene and have a positive impact. We are thrilled the impact that RESPONSE ABILITY had on UAB’s fraternity and sorority community.”

Kaitlin Kirk

Kappa Alpha Psi, University of Alabama at Birmingham

“Mike is easy to work with, reliable, asks for candid feedback and puts that feedback into immediate action (when he can). He’s a pleasure to work with and is obviously very passionate about the courageous leadership message he has to share with students.”

Tara Schuster

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

“Mike’s keynote helped the students look to the future and reflect on how the actions they take today can determine the legacy that they create for others who may stand where they once did. It was important for me that the fraternity/sorority students have the tools so that they can be role models and leaders of change for not only their chapters, but their greater campus community and world.”

Elizabeth Doyle

Elmhurst College


DignityU: Building Up or Tearing Down
When each of us is born, our glass of dignity is full.
As kids, we are full of joy and full of confidence.
We know ourselves as valuable and worthy.
There is nothing we can’t or won’t do.
Then, life happens.

We all come into the world equally valuable and worthy — and equally invaluable for our uniqueness. Regardless of background and capabilities, we share an innate need to be valued, acknowledged, listened to, treated fairly, and accepted for who we are. When we are not valued as such, we feel anger and frustration, often lashing out in exactly the wrong way to achieve the very thing we need and crave. Many of the world’s ills are rooted in this disconnect between what we need, what we do, and what we get in return. 

As we confront inappropriate, abusive, and even violent behaviors on our campuses, in our communities, and in our society, there is always a violation of someone’s dignity at play — someone is left feeling less valuable and less worthy as a result. Each time, their glass of dignity is a little less full — they have less life, less joy, and less confidence. 

In every interaction, we have the choice to honor or violate someone’s dignity. We have the choice to lift someone up or tear someone down. We have the choice to empty or fill their glass.

When dignity is honored, hazing is not an option. When dignity is honored, sexual violence is not an option. When dignity is honored, shaming is not an option.

It is time to educate and empower ourselves — and others — to always make the choice of honoring dignity. So will you lift someone up or tear someone down? The choice is yours.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will learn:

  • how to define the term “dignity.”
  • how to describe how dignity impacts their daily thoughts and actions.
  • how to distinguish the essential elements of dignity.
  • how toidentify ways the elements of dignity are violated.
  • how to recognize the difference they can make for others by honoring their dignity.
RESPONSE ABILITY: A Call for Courage

Courage is not just something to show — it’s a way of being. When we more past our fears and shame to take actions for others in critical moments of need and for what is right, we are being courageous.

In this galvanizing keynote, Mike reveals the nature of being a bystander and the barriers many of us feel when we consider whether or not to act — those that get in the way of showing courage for other people, organizations and issues. Students from all walks of life will then understand how seizing the opportunity to act can dramatically change their campus, and how it can allow them to make the difference they already want to make.

Mike concentrates on giving his audience three approaches to use whenever they see unhealthy or negative behavior among their peers, in their classes, on their campuses and in their lives. With “A Creed for Courage,” serving as the blueprint from the beginning of the keynote, Mike engages the audience and reveals how we all participate in bystander behavior.

He also emphasizes how our commitments and actions go beyond the campus, and students will be equipped to deal with problems as they see them happening around them. RESPONSE ABILITY: A Call for Courage, is appropriate for all student groups, and it has been especially popular for fraternity and sorority leadership training. Consider it also for residence life training, student-athletes, emerging leaders events, peer education groups, wellness programs and more.

This is our opportunity to empower the 80 percent of students who make the right choices. It’s time for them to stand up, step in and speak out when they see the other 20 percent making choices that bring down their communities. Before the audience leaves, they are given the opportunity to recite the Creed and join the movement to receive ongoing materials to support them in showing courage throughout their lives.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will learn:

  • how much of a negative impact typical bystander behavior creates,
  • how to become reacquainted with personal commitments and actions that make a difference, and
  • how to gain the social awareness and personal power to intervene in problem situations and show courage.