Monday, December 31, 2012

Volunteering for IMPACT Chicago in 2013

We are looking for people to join our 2013 Teams! 
 Martha, Deb, Molly, Lisa
AC, Valerie

Deb Mier, Molly Norris and AC Racette have volunteered to coordinate the teams devoted to getting the word out about the IMPACT Chicago mission and upcoming classes. Each team is primarily focused on recruitment into one of the first three Core Programs of 2013. The team efforts will range from getting out press releases to writing blogs and from building relationships with local businesses to labeling envelopes. Not only are the teams going to get some work done, but they are going to be FUN!
If you are interested in being part of an IMPACT Chicago team, please contact Deb, AC or Molly:
West Rogers Park Jan/Feb Core -- Deb Mier
Northcenter March Core -- AC Racette
West Chicago May Core -- Molly Norris

All skill sets are needed, so just let us know if you’d like to join a team by emailing Deb, AC or Molly. If you are interested in volunteering in a different capacity, email Jennifer at

At our December 2012 Board meeting, we celebrated Clara Orban’s tremendous service, spanning a decade, to our Board. Clara will continue to be a huge supporter of all things IMPACT Chicago, but is shifting out of the Board Chair position.  Rob Babcock has agreed to step into the Secretary of the Board role and I have agreed to step into the Chair position.  Katie Kramer will join the board in 2013.  I am currently the point person for coordinating the teams and Martha Thompson, Director Emeritus, is a resource for the teams. Valerie and Leslie (not pictured) have taken on additional cross-team tasks.

Lisa Amoroso, Chair
IMPACT Chicago Board

Monday, December 24, 2012

IMPACT Chicago Aligns Form with Function

 IMPACT Chicago has formally embraced what has been our organizational structure for our first 25 years. This is a structure in which individuals or groups of individuals (e.g., our instructor team) take on major responsibilities that they implement independently, but in a collaborative way.
    At the December meeting, the Board approved new bylaws which, effectively, restructure our formal organization (administrative and reporting relationships). These new bylaws better align with how our network of volunteers, staff and instructors have been working together to fulfill our mission. A major part of this organizational structure involves eliminating the Executive Director position. We have learned over the past year that how we get things done does not map on well to the traditional not-for-profit hierarchy which presumes a full-time Executive Director and other paid staff.
    IMPACT Chicago will continue to operate in a collaborative fashion and decisions will continue to be made by building consensus among the parties involved. Earlier in 2012, the Board approved a Nonviolent Communication approach to use when there are task, process or relationship conflicts []. Recurring administrative work continues to be done by existing staff and volunteers; for work that is more project-like and time-bound (e.g., promoting a course in a particular area), we are forming Project Teams with short time horizons and discrete goals.
    The Project Teams' efforts will be supported by our existing staff and volunteers who have taken on "cross-team" tasks (e.g., updating the website, sending out postcards with the schedule of upcoming courses, etc.).  More about the Project Teams can be found in the 12/24 blog on "Volunteering for IMPACT Chicago Project Teams."
    In addition to approving new bylaws (see the attached PDF), the following things happened at the December board meeting:
  • The Board celebrated Clara Orban’s tremendous service to IMPACT Chicago and, in particular, her chairing of the Board since 2007. Clara will continue to be a huge supporter of all things IMPACT Chicago, but is shifting out of the Board Chair position. Numerous tactics were tried to get her to change her mind but, alas, she has good boundary setting skill!
  • These additional Board composition changes were approved:  Rob Babcock agreed to step into the Secretary of the Board role. Lisa Amoroso agreed to step into the Chair of the Board role and Katie Kramer’s application to join the Board was approved! Welcome, Katie, to the Board!
    If you have questions or concerns, please email
Lisa Amoroso, Chair, IMPACT Chicago Board

Monday, December 17, 2012

IMPACT 2012: A Year of Transition

This has been another very busy year at IMPACT Chicago, with new people coming onboard, an anniversary and, as always, the dedicated group of volunteers and graduates.
   This year has been one of transition.  Martha Thompson, IMPACT Chicago’s Executive Director for over 20 years, stepped down from that position October 1.  She worked tirelessly for decades to build the organization and bring it to prominence.  Her transition from the position was smooth.  She has not left IMPACT, however, because she continues to work with the instructor team and will bring her experience and expertise to various new committees IMPACT is forming.
    We were able to celebrate Martha at the 25th Anniversary this October—25 years of bringing safety to women and girls.  What an accomplishment!  All of you are the reason we could celebrate, as we did, with muggings and seminars in the morning and afternoon, lunch and a very moving Closing Circle, where Martha was at the center...a symbol of her continuing role in IMPACT.
    It has been a year of continued strength in our course offerings, with Core Programs, Workshops, Advanced Courses and more.  IMPACT Chicago continues to look for ways to expand its work while keeping true to the mission.
    For that reason, also, the IMPACT Board will have a new look and feel coming in 2013.  The Executive Director position will be phased out, in favor of a series of working groups that will report to the Board as a whole.  This structure better represents the organizational philosophy of IMPACT, as we move towards the future.  As Executive Director, Martha brought unique skills to the table.  As we continue, teams will work on individual aspects of IMPACT’s mission in a spirit of collaboration. Please know that IMPACT Chicago will continue to have a Board structured to respect its non-profit status.
    And as it is a year of transition, I, too, will be transitioning from the Board of IMPACT.  It has been a privilege to chair this Board for 5 years now.  As the Board moves to a new structure, I know it will continue to find innovative ways of making IMPACT even better than ever.  I know I’ll be “on the mat” cheering as I read, like you, about all the great things IMPACT’s future holds.
    I wish you a wonderful, safe New Year- filled with possibilities.

                            Clara Orban, Ph.D.
                            Chair, Board of Directors 2007-2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Can of Asshole-Away

Aga Kunska

Back in the late 90's I took IMPACT, and several years later, while in grad school, I used the verbal techniques to stop a verbal attack from escalating into a physical one.  I called Martha then and let her know.  Today, I used the same techniques to get rid of a man in the post office parking lot who blocked my car with his while trying to force literature on me and making inappropriate comments about my vote, all assumed of course, I had never spoken with him.  Worked like a charm.  I am delighted to tell you that it was like having a can of psychic Asshole-Away.  Even in broad daylight, I was delighted to have this great tool to use.  Knowing the language and the right attitude meant that while he was mostly harmless, but still inappropriate, he didn't have the power to intimidate me.  And, while he still tried the same thing once after I told him to go away, I saw his face change after I did that, it registered that he wasn't having the effect he wanted to have.  Thank you for that!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Gift of Power: Better than any Black Friday Deal

Each of us has had the experience of trying to find the perfect gift for a loved one during the holiday season. Be it our mom who has one of everything in every color, or our college-aged sister who is too hip to shop for successfully; we’ve all watched as their expectant eyes start moving to the next box before our wrapping has even hit the floor. It may be tempting to pick up another scarf or jam-of-the-month club membership this year, but loved ones can instead pack a punch – literally – with a gift of IMPACT self-defense training.

Giving a woman in your life a self-defense course shows her that your care for her is deeper than any material gift, you care about her well-being as she moves through the world.  “Giving the gift of a self-defense training course is unique because it is not something she can wear, eat or look at,” comments IMPACT Chicago Director Emeritus Martha Thompson. “Instead, she will enhance her verbal and physical safety tools, something she will carry with her the rest of her life.”  This is not a gift she will be re-gifting or returning, and it’s always the right size.  

As IMPACT grads know, students of IMPACT develop their fighting spirit and skills in a safe, female-led environment. In a variety of realistic bedroom and street assault scenarios, participants use full-force strikes – such as the palm heel and ax kick – on padded male instructors acting as assailants.  More than ninety percent of women who experience the IMPACT Chicago Core Program  report a substantial increase in confidence and self-awareness. This is not just a gift you can give a special woman in your life, it’s a gift you can give yourself! 

The next IMPACT Chicago Core Program for women ages 16 and older will be held January 26, 27 and February 2, 3 at the Knapp Center located at 3145 W. Pratt Blvd., Chicago, IL  60645. Complete details about this and other upcoming IMPACT programs are available at Scholarships and payment plans are available. For advanced students, the next advanced class will be Defense Against Multiple Assailants to be held in May 2013. (Keep checking the website for details!)
To get a glimpse into what women learn in the course and to support the next class of women entering our graduate circle, consider attending “What is IMPACT?” It’s a free presentation at the end of an IMPACT Core Program. The next one will be held at the Knapp Center on February 3 from 12:30-2:30. For more information, please call (773) 561-9000, email, or visit the website

To order a gift certificate, contact IMPACT  (773-561-9000 or  To receive in time for an upcoming holiday, please order by
Hanukkah, December 6
Winter Solstice, Christmas, or Kwanza: December 19
New Years, December 26
For Your Special Occasion, let us know!

Molly Norris and Martha Thompson

Monday, November 26, 2012

Peaceful Conflict Resolution Through Assertive Communication

Julie Curtis and IMPACT Instructors Bruce Brio (formerly Antjuan), Ben Ruiz, and Martha Thompson attended a workshop on Peaceful Conflict Resolution Through Assertive Communication at Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Center.

Kate Webster, Director of Violence Prevention at Thousand Waves, taught the workshop and Carla Riggs assisted. As part of a professional exchange between IMPACT Chicago and Thousand Waves, both Kate and Carla have completed the IMPACT Chicago Core Program.

Through review of key principles of assertive communication and interactive exercises, participants had the opportunity to reflect upon and practice using boundary setting tools to resolve conflicts effectively.