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Kindness is contagious. Pass it on.

Can engaging in one kind act a day change individual hearts and minds—and even the world? Speakers at the Kindness Summit think so.

The daylong event featured politicians, faith leaders, a social media influencer, a bestselling business author and the co-founder of UNITE and they spoke with one voice: Kindness matters.

The inaugural Kindness Summit, which took place at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, April 12, was presented by One Kind Act a Day, a project started by Khosrow Semnani and the Semnani Family Foundation.

When Semnani asked to hold the summit at the U, President Taylor Randall said he was all in.

“We have to get back to some basic values that make our society click,” Randall said in remarks at the event. “I said, ‘Sure, can we do it once a week?’ We’re all in. We would love to be known as the kindness university. That would be absolutely spectacular for us.”

Randall used the occasion to announce that April 24 has been designated as the Day of Kindness at the U. Kindness ambassadors will be handing out donuts and sharing words of encouragement with students. Learn more at

April 24 is a reading day for students, who are in the last weeks of the semester, stressed with completing projects and taking final exams and, for many, the next steps after graduating.

“It's one of the more stressful moments of the year because you realize, ‘Gosh, I can't get this all in my head in one day, can I?’” Randall said, adding the hope is kind words and lots of donuts will actually make it a great day as students head into the final stretch.

Kindness Summit speaker highlights

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson

We cannot overestimate the power of individual actions and the importance that kindness and goodwill have in making us as people more resilient, giving us the courage to overcome difficulties and helping us live up to the blessings of freedom that we’ve inherited. ... Being proximate to people who are different than us, approaching people and problems with a sense of curiosity and a sense of goodwill is something that we have focused on in our administration and we'll continue to focus on because proximity is powerful, kindness is contagious.

Learn more about the lieutenant governor here.

Khosrow Semnani, One Kind Act a Day

In 2021, when, in the words of our lieutenant governor, there was so much polarization, so much lack of friendship and kindness and goodness among people, I felt an obligation for me, who has a different perspective and has experienced the goodness in America, that I had to do something. ... And the whole idea of One Kind Act is it transcends race, religion, background, color, language, everything, all religions, all races. They all have one in common, there's a common denominator, and that's kindness. And we don't have to be one village or the other. We don't have to be from one race or the other. We can all support kindness.

Learn more about One Kind Act a Day here.

Tim Shriver, co-creator of The Dignity Index

What I’d like us to think about here today is kindness not just as a value or an action, but as a way of seeing. How do we change our lens so that we don't see from the head, which is sorted—rich, poor, black, white, good, bad, nice, not nice, a friend, a foe, all these judgments that we're all making all the time. We see this in the Special Olympics all the time. People judge books by their cover, and it leads to them to distort the capacity to see the person who's right in front of them. . . We've distilled these skills largely from the work of K-12 teachers who help children learn how to disagree without being disagreeable. We've tried to translate the wisdom of sixth- and eighth-graders into the language of adults so that adults would actually start to recognize that what we teach children, we should actually practice. ... I hope that by gathering us together here in this room and remembering the power of kindness, we will remember that the real wisdom is changing ourselves so that we become people who look from the lens of kindness and see it everywhere and remark and support and develop it wherever we can.

Learn more about The Dignity Index here.

Chester Elton, bestselling author

How do we develop a culture of kindness and does it benefit us in ways more than just making our moms proud? Well, we've heard some talk about this already today and I'm interested in talking to you about a culture of kindness that starts with assuming positive intent. ... It’s the soft stuff that makes the hard stuff easier, right? And this is the stuff that your mom and dad told you when you were five years old. Remember to say please and thank you. Clean up after yourself. Don't push. Don't hit, don't bite. That bite thing is still good advice at the moment. ... I'm here to tell you that being kind is not a soft skill. It's a power skill. ... And how do you do it? Do it now. You see somebody needs something, don't hesitate. Do it now. You think you'll remember, ‘Oh, well, I’ll catch up at the end of the week or at the end of the day. No, you won't. You get busy. Do it now. ... Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. We can be kind.

Learn more about Chester Elton here.

Darren Margolias, Beast Philanthropy

I think that that feeling that you get the first time you have an opportunity to do something really special for somebody or help somebody out ignites a spark in your own mind or in your own heart that makes you want to continue to do it. ... When I go and watch reaction videos on our channel, so many people come away from it saying that they have a new level of gratitude for what they themselves have—that something as simple as drinking water that comes out of a tap in your house is such a privilege. When kids watch our channel, they realize how lucky they are. We also get to educate them in a way that resonates with their souls, it resonates with their humanity, and they care about these issues. And the most important reason of all of them is that we inspire them to change themselves. They want to go out and get involved and do all of these things. And it's become really weird to me because I had the realization at the end of last year, that this philanthropy is no longer a charity. This philanthropy is turning into a movement all around the world. People are going and taking the message of what we are doing and they're doing things themselves.

Learn more about Beast Philanthropy here.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Salt Lake City

What I want to tell you is that I want you to love yourself. We pick up other rocks that we hurt ourselves with—shame, guilt, disappointment, regret—and we tend to carry those rocks around sometimes for the entire rest of our lives. And I want to ask you to be kind to yourself and recognize that the more we build up that wall of these, I've taken a metaphor way too far here, but we build this little wall around our hearts that keeps us from being courageous enough to be kind to others, to smile at a stranger, tell somebody, can I do anything for you? That takes a little bit of courage. And the more you carry those painful rocks around about yourself, the harder it's going to be to not just do those things, but even see the need around you. So, I want you to love yourself. That's what I want to tell you today and the ripple effects from your heart, when you have that grace and compassion, sometimes forgiveness for yourself will absolutely affect your community.

Learn more about the mayor here.

Faith leaders panel highlights

Imam Dawood Yasin, director, Islamic Center of Great Austin

This is radical. If you’re putting forth kindness as an act every day, in a world where you think it would be normalized, it’s actually radical. I’ll use a fancy term that one of my colleagues at college loved to use all the time. There is this reality of metaphysical causality. So, if we believe that there is a return on investment in goodness from God, then I think it makes it quite easy to link arms and move forward because in helping you, I’m helping myself because I’m looking for assistance and aid in help and strength from God.

Rabbi Samuel L. Spector, Congregation Kol Ami

We say in our tradition upon three things the world stands. One is the study of the Torah. One is the worship of God, and one is performing acts of kindness, and that is the essence of who we are and what we try to do. We are challenged to see holiness and godliness in every single person. And if we can't find any, a tiny bit, and some people can be challenging, but if we can't find the tiniest bit of holiness and godliness in each and every person, we're committing an act of blasphemy.

Rev. Phyllis A. Spiegel, Episcopal Diocese of Utah

I used to talk a lot about basic human kindness and that was my catchphrase, that basic human kindness is the base level for how we should be in this world. I realized that kindness was my earliest theology because it supersedes all faiths, all divisions that we normally put up—that we should be kind and that’s the lowest bar there is and it’s sometimes the highest bar to achieve.

Elder Brian K. Taylor, general authority seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The word intentional is a great word. Intent is a great word. But compassion moves us from within to stop what we’re doing [to be kind to one another]. When you see somebody with a flat tire on the road, is that an inconvenient irritation because I’ve got my Franklin Day Planner and my whole day is planned, there is no way I can stop? Or is it an inspiring intervention, and I allow the space, in my organized day because I have compassion? Because it doesn’t matter what religion or race, somebody who’s got a flat tire or anything else happens. Ultimately, I am moved to act because we’re all sisters and brothers.

Archbishop John C. Wester, archbishop of Santa Fe

I think kindness has to be mediated through relationships. And so, the first step is just to get to know each other and to really regard the uniqueness of each individual human being. We have this opportunity to meet each other and to relate with one another as persons, authentic persons, not the masks that we put up. The first language of God is silence. I think we need to foster a sense of appreciation for silence. It’s that silence that gives us the opportunity to be intentional about kindness, to take a few moments each day and to be quiet and to silently think about kindness, to think about ‘Have I been kind today?’