Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., is the Director of Embrace Civility.

Nancy’s resume.

Embrace Civility LLC is a certified Public Benefit Corporation in Oregon


My Vision

My vision is that young people will provide leadership throughout the world to foster civility and maintain positive relationships.

To empower young people to accomplish this, I need to empower caring adults who work with kids and teens. That is what the resources on my site are all about.

I entered the field of “bullying prevention” by writing the first book ever published on cyberbullying. I approach issues of youth risk based on a digital age perspective. Key insight related to this perspective is that the “authoritarian mindset” which assumes that adults are in control is not well founded.

We must recognize that it is necessary for adults to empower young people with the values and skills to embrace civility. To help young people embrace civility and maintain positive relationships requires:

  • A focus on the quality of the school or organization climate.
  • Empowering young people with the values and skills necessary to maintain positive relationships.
  • Ensuring that when adults intervene in hurtful situations this results in an effective resolution that fully supports all involved students.

I have degrees in special education and law, taught “at risk” children, practiced computer law, and was an educational technology and digital safety consultant. I also experienced intense bullying as a teen, being called “Weirdo Willard” throughout junior and high school.

My Books

Engage Students to Embrace Civility. Second Edition. A book for school leaders. (2022)

I am going to be rewiring the three Be Positively Powerful books based on updated insight incorporated into Engage Students to Embrace Civility.

Be Positively Powerful: Resilient When Things Get Tough. A short book for elementary and middle school youth that outlines how their brain functions and sets forth seven strategies to achieve resilience and empowerment. (2020) 

Sea Positivamente Poderoso: Ser resiliente cuando las cosas se ponen difíciles. (2021) The Spanish version of this book.

Be Positively Powerful: A Guide for Teens on Achieving Resilience and Empowerment. Outlines teen brain development, seven strategies to achieve resilience and empowerment, and applies these strategies to enhance positive relationships. (2020)

The Way of the Donkey. A picture book for children and adults where they can learn all about donkeys and that presents positive empowerment in the long ear way. (2019)

Positive Relations @ School (& Elsewhere): Legal Parameters & Positive Strategies to Address Bullying & Harassment. Embrace Civility in the Digital Age, 2014. Removed from publication.

Cyber Savvy: Embracing Digital Safety and Civility, Corwin Press, 2011.

Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress. Research Press, 2007.

Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly. Jossey-Bass, 2007.

Computer Ethics, Etiquette, and Safety for the 21st Century Student. International Society for Technology in Education, 2002.

The Cyberethics Reader, San Francisco: McGraw Hill College Division. 1997

Seven Pillars for Success

Commit to Scientific Integrity and Effective Practice

There are no “evidence based” best practices (proven to be effective through an independent evaluation). To ensure a likelihood of success, it is necessary to implement approaches that are informed by accurate research into the concerns and implement the use of practices that have demonstrated effectiveness in other areas of youth risk prevention. I use the term “research-based” to describe my commitment to recommend practices that have solid grounding in the research-literature.

Ensure Ongoing Assessment and Evaluation

Ongoing local assessment and evaluation are critical to ensure success. Use of local surveying of students to support needs assessment, positive norms instruction, and evaluation is recommended. Schools must specifically evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

Engage in Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Effectively addressing youth risk in the digital age will require a multidisciplinary collaborative approach that involves educators, mental health professionals, and law enforcement. Comprehensive approaches must be ground in solid policies and practices, provide professional development, present student and parent education, and ensure ongoing evaluation.

Foster Restoration and Reconciliation

Interventions should be designed to hold young people accountable for any wrongdoing in a manner that fosters restoration and reconciliation. This will enable all young people to remain in safe school and digital communities.

Reinforce Positive Norms

Universal education must promote the positive norms and effective practices held by the majority of the students. This can be accomplished through student-led constructive instruction, use of older students to teach younger students, and messaging ground in the insight derived through the local surveys.

Strengthen Effective Skills

Constructive instruction can also help students gain skills through sharing of effective practices and strategies. Effective skills include problem-solving and decision-making. Students must also recognize possible negative influences related to the use of technologies, as well as the influences for making positive choices.

Encourage Helpful Allies

Many times young people interact in digital environments where no responsible adults are present.  As helpful allies, young people can provide support to a peer who is at risk or being harmed, challenge irresponsible or hurtful behavior, and report unresolved or serious concerns.