Bystander Intervention coordinator appointed to implement new initiative

October 20, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Katie Tenny, who has been leading Penn State’s bystander intervention efforts for the past two years including the introduction of a University-wide program, has been appointed to fill the new position of bystander intervention coordinator.

“As we continue to build and sustain a campus community characterized by individuals who are responsible for the welfare of both themselves and others, the bystander initiative will be central to those efforts, and Katie is the ideal person to lead it,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs.

Tenny had been serving in the role in an interim capacity. Her appointment, effective Oct. 1, follows a national search.

“I feel grateful and honored that I’ve been selected to continue to coordinate our bystander intervention efforts,” Tenny said. “Many people have been working hard on this for a few years now, including myself, and I am excited to see it come to fruition when we officially launch the program in January.”

As part of the University’s efforts to combat sexual assault and harassment, the Bystander Intervention Initiative is initially focused on providing students, faculty and staff with the training and tools needed to help stop sexual and relationship violence. Participants learn practical techniques for stepping in and diffusing potentially problematic situations when appropriate, and seeking help when needed to prevent situations from escalating.

The initiative will grow from there to include bystander intervention for mental health-related issues, bias-related incidents and alcohol and drug abuse. One component of the comprehensive University-wide effort is offering workshops for students, faculty and staff. Eventually, much of the programming will be peer-facilitated.

The first training program related to sexual and relationship violence was offered in June 2015, and the second will take place in November, with the official University-wide program kick-off slated for January 2016. Penn State is partnering with Green Dot Inc. to offer the training.

Tenny’s work has included collaborating with faculty, staff and students from units across the University to review the approaches for bystander intervention and begin to implement the program at Penn State. As chair of the Bystander Intervention Initiative, she was a liaison to the University’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.

“It is because of Katie’s leadership that the initiative is where it is today — an integral part of the University’s efforts to create a community of individuals who demonstrate care for one another’s physical and emotional well-being,” said Barry Bram, special assistant to the vice president for Student Affairs.

Tenny has a broad range of experiences working with students on wellness and addiction-related issues, most recently serving as an addiction specialist and therapist with Counseling and Psychological Services. Before that as a community health educator, she helped implement Penn State’s Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students program. Her volunteer work includes serving as a counselor advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault at the Centre County Women’s Resource Center.

She earned a bachelor’s with a double major in psychology and secondary education and a minor in religious studies from York College in Nebraska, and a dual-title master’s in counselor education and comparative and international education from Penn State. 

  • Katie Tenny 8x10

    Katie Tenny, who has been leading Penn State’s bystander intervention efforts, has been appointed to fill the new position of Bystander Intervention coordinator, effective Oct. 1, 2015.

    IMAGE: Patrick Mansell
Last Updated April 19, 2017