Michael JosephsonCHARACTER COUNTS! Founder

CHARACTER COUNTS! founder, Michael Josephson, is an influential and internationally renowned champion of character education for youth and ethical conduct in business, government, policing, journalism, sports, healthcare, and law.  He is credited by many as the person most responsible for reviving and professionalizing character education in school and youth-serving organizations.

In 1987, after a distinguished 20-year career teaching law and as the CEO of a prominent legal education company (Josephson bar Review Center), he resigned his professorship and sold his business to found the Joseph & Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit organization named in honor of his parents. Mr. Josephson has served as the Institute’s president. All proceeds from his presentations and consultations go to the Institute.

In 1992, under the auspices of the Josephson Institute he created CHARACTER COUNTS!, the world’s most widely implemented character development initiative based on a common language of shared values – the Six Pillars of Character and Pursuing Victory With Honor(1996)a companion program promoting ethics in sports. These programs reach about 8 million young people and their families each year. Every year since 1993, the U.S. Senate passes a joint resolution, and the president signs a proclamation declaring the third week in October National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week.

Employing his groundbreaking insights and strategies, Mr. Josephson has assisted corporations, state legislatures, government agencies, and professionals in politics, education, sports, journalism, healthcare, law, and the nonprofit community to strengthen individual and institutional decision-making and create sustainable ethical cultures. Clients include many of the most influential companies, agencies, and organizations.

He has authored more than a dozen books and major studies including biennial surveys and reports on the Ethics of American Youth (since 1992 these reports provide the benchmark for measuring the values, attitudes, and conduct of high school students), a Model Code of Journalism Ethics for Associated Press Managing Editors, Olympism and Olympic Ideals for the U.S. Olympic Committee, Make US Proud (training program for all U.S. athletes participating in the 2012 Olympic Games), and the  Exemplary Peace Officer series (for police). In 2014, he wrote the Model Standards for Academic, Social, Emotional, and Character Development providing a road map for educators for a comprehensive integrated student development model. He also maintains several social media communication channels.

He has been named the UCLA Alumnus of the Year, an honor given to less than 70 of the nearly 600,000 people who earned degrees from UCLA. He has also received America’s Award for Integrity presented by former President Ronald Reagan. In 2015, the U.S. State Department commissioned him to consult with government and educational institutions in Seoul, South Korea regarding their character education efforts.

Michael’s poem, What Will Matter, has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

Michael Josephson’s highest priority, however, is his family – his sons Justin and Miles, and his three daughters Samara, Abrielle, and Carissa.

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAIL:

Michael Josephson was born in Brooklyn, NY. in 1942 and moved to and was raised in Los Angeles, CA since 1946. He graduated Westchester High School in 1960 and earned his B.A degree in Political Science in 1964.

Law School. He entered UCLA Law School in 1964 where he won the American Jurisprudence Prize in Evidence, and a National Prize in Copyright Law (for proposing an alternative system). He was elected Chairman of the ASUCLA Board of Governors where he initiated a special book discount program for students creating a model still used at UCLA and other universities). He was elected Chief Justice Moot Court Honors Program and, while still a law student, created, co-authored, and published “The Handbook of Appellate Advocacy,” a book used by moot court programs throughout the country. It generated funds for the UCLA program for over a decade. Mr. Josephson received his J.D.  degree in 1967. He was selected by a university-wide committee to deliver the Valedictory address on behalf of all graduate students at the combined undergraduate and graduate school Commencement Ceremony. The speech was highly regarded as well as controversial because of its criticism of the Viet Nam War and several prominent political leaders and was reprinted in the Congressional Record.

University of Michigan Law School. His first post-law school position was as an instructor of law at the University of Michigan Law School for the 1968-1969 academic year.  Though he was hired to teach Legal Research and Writing course he was promoted mid-year to teach Criminal Law and an Appellate Advocacy course, becoming the youngest person ever to teach content courses at the Law School.

Los Angeles District Attorney. During the summer of 1969, he served as a visiting prosecutor for the Los Angeles District Attorneys’ Office.

Wayne State Law School. In the fall of 1969, Mr. Josephson became an Associate Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, MI. He taught Criminal law, Criminal procedure, and Evidence. During that year, he assembled a faculty consisting of the best law teachers at all four Michigan law schools and created the Josephson Bar Review Center (BRC), publishing and education company to assist law students to succeed in law school and pass the bar exam. In 1969 he was commissioned by New Detroit Commission to write a report on the causes of the 1968 Detroit riots. In 1970 he published a  two-volume work, “Learning and Evaluation in Law School” for the American Association of Law Schools. In 1971, Professor Josephson was promoted to full professor and awarded tenure. He was then the youngest person ever to receive a tenured law professorship.

Loyola Law School. In 1972, he moved back to Los Angeles as a professor of law at Loyola University Law School. During a 15-year stint at Loyola, Professor Josephson taught Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Trial Practice, and Ethics, Counseling and Negotiation, a new course he created to integrate the teaching of ethical principles into practical functions of counseling and negotiation.

 Joseph & Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics.  In 1985, he sold his legal publishing and bar exam preparation company for $10 million and he funded the Joseph & Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation named after his parents. In 1987 he resigned his tenured professorship to become full-time President and CEO of the Josephson Institute, serving without compensation. In 1987 and 1988, Mr. Josephson became recognized as an innovative force promoting ethics through a series of major newspaper profiles in the Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor and interviews on Ted Koppel’s Nightline and the PBS series “Bill Moyer’s World of Ideas.”

Government Ethics Center. In 1990, Mr. Josephson formed the Government Ethics Center as a division of the Josephson Institute. Under his direction, the center assembled a working group of prominent public servants, including former governors, legislators, and members of Congress to formulate five core ethical principles establishing the foundation for government ethics codes and training. The Five Principles of Public Service Ethics is widely used and cited.

Report Card on Ethics of American Youth. Also in 1990, Mr. Josephson conducted a national study of the attitudes and behaviors of American youth and published a ground-breaking study of the behavior and attitudes of American high schools. The widely publicized report declared, “There’s a hole in the moral ozone and it’s getting bigger” and woke the nation to deteriorating ethics and established the platform for the modern character education movement.

IRS and the Arizona Legislature. In 1990, Mr. Josephson was commissioned by the Internal Revenue Service to develop a research survey to assess the attitudes and behaviors of all IRS employees and to design and administer an ethics training program for all segments of the agency. During the same year, in response to a massive corruption scandal in the Arizona Legislature (called AZSCAM), Mr. Josephson was invited by the Governor of Arizona to conduct an ethics program for a joint session of all elected legislators.

The Six Pillars of Character. In 1992, Mr. Josephson assembled leading experts in character development in Aspen Colorado to develop The Aspen Declaration,the seminal document of the CHARACTER COUNTS! movement. The declaration introduced The Six Pillars of Character as a universally acceptable list of traits and values essential to good character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

CHARACTER COUNTS Coalition. In 1993, Michael Josephson launched the modern character education movement by organizing the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition,a consortium of educational and youth serving organizations (including National Associations of Secondary and Elementary School Principals, American Association of School Administrators, National PTA, YMCA, and 4-H) endorsing the CHARACTER COUNTS! strategy and principles of the Aspen Declaration.

National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. In 1993, Mr. Josephson organized bi-partisan working groups in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. As a result, both houses of Congress unanimously passed a Resolution and President Clinton issued a formal Proclamation declaring the third week of October National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. Every year since the Senate has passed a similar Resolution and the sitting president has issued a similar Proclamation.

Certificated Training. In 1994, Mr. Josephson developed an array of character education resources for schools and youth serving organizations including the nation’s only certificated training for character educators (CHARACTER COUNTS! has certified nearly 15,000 educators).

Pursuing Victory With Honor. In 1996, Mr. Josephson assembled leading amateur sports organizations, coaches, university presidents, sports journalists, and game officials in Scottsdale, Arizona (hosted by the Governor) to develop “The Arizona Sports Summit Accord,” the seminal document for Pursuing Victory with Honor character-building and sportsmanship programs.

America’s Prize for Integrity. In 1996, Michael Josephson was awarded America’s Prize for Integrity, presented by former President Ronald Reagan.

CHARACTER COUNTS! Radio Commentaries. In 1996, Mr. Josephson commenced writing and delivering 90-second radio commentaries playing three times a day at Los Angeles CBS flagship station KNX-1070 AM and other cities throughout the country and worldwide on American Forces Network.  The commentaries received two Gabriel Awards for outstanding content and ran until 2011 (the 15-year run made it one of the longest-running features in radio history).

MICHAEL JOSEPHSON’S CAREER MILESTONES AND HIGHLIGHTS

All listed books, reports, and programs were personally written, designed, and delivered by Michael Josephson. The following is just a sampling of Mr. Josephson’s achievements and activities.

Updated through January 31, 2016

  • Personal (P)
  • Character Development (C)
  • Business (B)
  • Government (G)
  • Sports (S)
  • Law Enforcement (LE)
  • Law (L)
  • Healthcare (H)
  • Journalism (J)
  • Religion (R)

P 1942: Born in Brooklyn, NY. Raised in Los Angeles since 1946.

P 1964: B.A. UCLA.

P 1964-1967UCLA Law School.  American Jurisprudence Prize in Evidence. National Prize in Copyright Law (for proposing an alternative system). Chairman of the UCLA (university-wide) Board of Governors (he initiated a special book discount program for students creating a model still used at UCLA and other universities). Chief Justice Moot Court Honors Program and created, co-authored, and published “The Handbook of Appellate Advocacy” a book used by moot court programs throughout the nation for over a decade (earned funds supporting the UCLA program).

P 1967: J.D.  UCLA Law School. Selected to deliver Valedictory address representing all graduate school departments (address selected to be reprinted in the Congressional Record).

P 1967-1968Instructor, University of Michigan Law School. (while hired to teach Legal Research and Writing he was promoted mid-year to teach Criminal Law and Appellate Advocacy courses – the youngest person ever to teach content courses at the law school).

P 1968-1971Associate Professor of Law, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

P 1968Josephson Bar Review Center (BRC). Assembled the most effective law professors in each major law subject to prepare uniquely designed study materials and lectures to assist law students to succeed in law school and pass the bar exam. Introduced many innovative educational features resulting in unprecedented success including a “programmed learning system” using computer technology to track performance and audio tape lectures for law school courses.

P 1968-1985: Managed Josephson BRC. Expanded published materials nationally and bar preparation courses to 14 states. Business sold in 1985.

G 1969: Report on the Detroit Riots. Commissioned by New Detroit Commission to write a report on the causes of the Detroit riots.

L 1970: Wrote Two-Volume Work, “Learning and Evaluation of Law School” for the American Association of Law Schools.

P 1971: Granted Tenure as Full Professor.  One of the youngest persons ever to receive a tenured law professorship.

P 1972 – 1987: Professor of Law, Loyola University, Los Angeles. Taught Criminal Law and Procedure, Evidence, Trial Practice and Ethics, Counseling and Negotiation, a new course he created to integrate the teaching of ethical principles into practical functions of counseling and negotiation.

P 1985: Created the Joseph & Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics. Named for his parents, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization; donated $1 million to fund the Institute until it became self-sufficient.

P 1987: Resigned Tenured Law Position. Became full-time President and CEO of the Josephson Institute, serving without compensation.

P 1987-presentPresident and CEO of the Josephson Institute, serving without compensation.

P 1987: World of Ideas. Selected to participate in Bill Moyer’s prestigious TV series and book.

P 1987: Nightline. Interviewed by Ted Koppel on the moral malaise in America.

P 1988: Profile. extensive profile published in the Christian Science Monitor.

G 1990: Government Ethics Center/Five Principles of Public Service Ethics. Assembled a committee of prominent public servants including former governors, legislators, and members of Congress to formulate core ethical principles establishing the foundation for government ethics codes and training.

C 1990: Report on the Ethics of American Youth. A comprehensive study of the behavior and attitudes of young people that awoke the nation to deteriorating ethics and established the platform for the modern character education movement.

G 1991: Internal Revenue Service. Designed and administered a comprehensive survey and developed an ethics program for all IRS executives and employees.

G 1991: Joint Session of Arizona Legislature. Invited by Governor of Arizona to address joint session to address legislative ethics after AZSCAM scandal.

C 1992: Launched Biennial National Survey to the Ethics of American Youth. This survey has become the gold standard study issued every two years.

C 1992: Aspen Declaration: Six Pillars of Character. Assembled leading experts in character development in Aspen Colorado to develop “The Aspen Declaration” the seminal document of the CHARACTER COUNTS! movement establishing a universally acceptable common language: The Six Pillars of Character.

C 1993: Organized the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition. Launched the modern character education movement by organizing the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a consortium of educational and youth-serving organizations (including National Associations of Secondary and Elementary School Principals, American Association of School Administrators, National PTA, YMCA, and 4-H) endorsing and committed to the CHARACTER COUNTS! strategy and principles of the Aspen Declaration.

C 1993 – Present: National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. U. S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution declaring the third week in October, National CHARACTER COUNTS! Week. Every year since the Senate has passed a similar resolution and the sitting president has issued a Proclamation.

C 1994 – Present: Certificated Training for Character Educators. Established training and a growing array of character education resources for schools and youth-serving organizations including the nation’s only certificated training for character educators (CHARACTER COUNTS! has certified nearly 15,000 educators).

S 1996: Pursuing Victory with Honor. Assembled leading amateur sports organizations, coaches, university presidents, sports journalists, and game officials in Scottsdale, Arizona (hosted by the Governor) to develop “The Arizona Sports Summit Accord, the seminal document for Pursuing Victory with Honor character-building and sportsmanship programs.

P 1996: Awarded America’s Prize for Integrity. Presented by former President Ronald Reagan.

P 1996: CHARACTER COUNTS! Radio Commentaries. Commenced daily syndicated radio commentaries playing three times a day at Los Angeles CBS flagship station KNX-1070 AM and other cities throughout the country and worldwide on the American Forces Network.  Received two Gabriel Awards for outstanding content. The program ran until 2011 (the 15-year run made it one of the longest-running features in radio history).

J 1998Journalism Ethics. Developed comprehensive journalism ethics program for Knight Rider which provided the basis for nearly a dozen major workshops and presentations to major media organizations (including Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami herald) and associations of journalists, editors, and publishers.

L 1998: ABA Judicial Code of Ethics. JI provided a grant to the ABA to re-write the Judicial Code of Ethics and Michael Josephson served on the drafting committee.

G 1998: Social Security Administration: Making Values-Based Decisions.

S 2001: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball. In partnership with the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) assembled leading sports organizations, coaches, university presidents, sports journalists, and game officials to draft and issue “Pursuing Victory with Honor: The Gold Medal Standards for Amateur Basketball” detailing far-reaching and fundamental guidelines.

C 2001Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen.  Book published with Boys & Girls Town of America.

P 2001: You Don’t Have to Be Sick to Get Better.  Book of select radio commentaries.

P 2002: Cover Profile “The Indisputable Mr. Scruples.” 4000-word profile in L.A. Times Magazine.

S 2002: Gold Medal Standards for Youth Sports.  Assembled leaders from the nation’s most influential youth sports organizations to focus on and craft solutions for (high school and below) sports. Produced “Gold Medal Standards for Youth Sports” establishing a common framework.

P 2002: Making Ethical DecisionsBooklet is adopted by dozens of college courses and company programs.

P 2002: The Best is Yet to ComeBook of select radio commentaries

P 2002: Governor Robert Ray Pillar of Character Award.

P 2003: What Will Matter” Poem. Poem and a video slide show have been viewed or downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

B 2003: Living the Credo: Making Good Decisions at Johnson & Johnson. Commissioned by Johnson and Johnson to write a guide to decision-making integrating the J&J Credo with JI’s Six Pillars of Character.

C 2003: CHARACTER COUNTS! for U.S. Army Youth Services. Developed a custom version of CHARACTER COUNTS! for U.S. Army department of youth services at more than 100 Army installations for more than 100,000 children of soldiers.

LE 2003: Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Command Officer Training.

J 2004: Moderated panel of Newspaper Publishers Association Panel. (aired by PBS)

P 2004: The Power of Character Book of 40 essays from prominent business, political, and media leaders on character.

G 2004: Santa Clara County Public Employees Ethics Workshops.

R 2005: Menschlekeit Matters. Created a Jewish education version of CHARACTER COUNTS!

C 2005: Assessment and Recommendations Concerning the Character Development of the United States Air Force Academy. Commissioned to evaluate character development efforts.

G 2005: Joint Session of Iowa Legislature and Statewide Officials. Invited by Governor of Iowa to address a special joint session of senators and house members on the issue of civility.

G 2005: Connecticut Legislative Leaders Conference.

G 2006: Defense Acquisition University. Entered MOU to assist the Department of Defense to transform its ethics program from rule-based compliance courses to a broader values-based ethics initiative.

S 2006: Olympism and Olympic Ideals. Commissioned to survey all major constituents of the U.S. Olympic Movement and present a report to the USOC Assembly on Olympism and Olympic Ideals.

LE 2006: Los Angeles Police Department, CA. Designed survey and training program for LAPD Command Officers.

B 2006 – 2008: Kroger Corporation. Commissioned by Kroger Corporation (20 store banners) to conduct values-based training for senior executives at various regional centers.

LE 2007: Becoming an Exemplary Peace Officer: An Introduction to Police Training (for police academies) and Becoming an Exemplary Peace Officer: The Guide to Ethical Decision Making (for in-service and academy training). Books published with California Police Officers Standards and Training Commission.

G 2007: Alaska Ethics Legislation. Commissioned to work with Alaska legislators to develop a “state-of-the-art” legislative package.

L 2007: Presentation to Council of Chief Judges.

S 2007: “True Champions” Coach Training Program for Los Angeles Public Schools. Developed weekly lessons for 1000 sports coaches.

S 2007: Appointed Board Member of National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation. Conducted training for university basketball coaches at NABC annual meetings until 2012.

B 2007: Paul Harris Fellow Award. Rotary international’s special recognition award for distinguished service to the rotary movement.

S 2008: Model Code and Training for Coaches of U.S. Olympic Teams. Commissioned by Coaches Division of USOC.

LE 2008: Inglewood, CA Police Department. Assessment and Command leadership training.

S 2008: Making US Proud. Commissioned by USOC to develop and delivered training to all U.S. athletes participating in the 2008 Olympic Games.

B 2008: Keynote Speaker to Rotary International Assembly.

B 2009: NASBA (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) Center for the Public Trust ‘Being A Difference’ Award.

C 2010: CHARACTER COUNTS! in Puerto Rico/Tus Valores Cuentan. At the invitation of the Governor of Puerto Rico developed a comprehensive state-sponsored Spanish version of CHARACTER COUNTS! for public schools – the program grew to 316 schools and 109,000 students. Developed the cluster model achieving unprecedented transformational academic and conduct improvements.

C 2010: Rotary Youth Leadership Training.  Conducted national study of Rotary’s youth leadership programs (RYLA) and designed training modules integrating Rotary’s Four-Way test with the Six Pillars of Character.  

G 2010: Bureau of Naval Personnel Command.

B 2011: Fleishman Hilliard Certification. Audited the ethics program of the international public relations firm and re-designed the program to justify JI’s first official certification of a corporate program.

C 2011: CHARACTER COUNTS! Nigeria.  Launched CHARACTER COUNTS! program in Nigeria.

G 2011: Puerto Rico Office of Government Ethics. Developed comprehensive training programs based on the Six Pillars of Character for mandatory annual ethics training of more than 200,000 government employees.

LE 2013: California Police Chiefs Summit. Sponsored by California Peace Officers Training Standards Commission, special meeting introducing chiefs to Josephson’s Exemplary Policing organization framework.

C 2013: CHARACTER COUNTS! COLOMBIA. Launched CHARACTER COUNTS! program for Colombia.

C 2014: Model Standards for Academic, Social-Emotional, and Character Development. A road map for educators for a comprehensive integrated student development model.

C 2015: CHARACTER COUNTS! Program for Catholic Schools. With CITRS (Philadelphia nonprofit) designed a customized program for 15 inner city Catholic schools in Philadelphia employing the cluster model that achieved extraordinary results in Puerto Rico.

C 2015: District-Wide Cluster Implementation in Public Schools. Designed implementation of the cluster model for K-12 schools in Culver City, CA.

C 2015: South Korea – Consulting on Character Education. Commissioned by the U.S. State Department to go to Seoul, South Korea to meet and consult with educational and legislative leaders concerning a mandatory character education program for public schools.

C 2015: Partnership with Drake University’s Ray Center. Negotiated a multi-year partnership with Drake University to promote and deliver CHARACTER COUNTS! in Iowa.

LE 2015: Fresno Police Department, CA. Commissioned assess and report on the organizational culture and performance of the Fresno Police Department. The report resulted in major policy and organizational changes.

G 2016: Joint Session of the Indiana State Legislature. At the request of the Council of State Governments, delivered a 90-minute presentation on legislative ethics to the entire Indiana Legislature (joint session of the House and Senate).

G 2016: Civility in Politics Panel in Iowa. At the invitation of the Des Moines Register and the Ray Center of Drake University, led a discussion of “Civility in Politics” in Des Moines, Iowa just a few weeks from the Iowa caucuses.

B 2016: International Assembly of Rotary Keynote address.