Monday, August 19, 2019

Making an IMPACT in Bronzeville

In a city that prides itself on big buildings, flashy lights, and loyal residents in each neighborhood, Chicago is also home to many successful collaborations, networks and partnerships. Join IMPACT Blog Contributor, Maple Joy as she takes you on a journey that IMPACT makes in one local Chicago neighborhood. 

This story was originally published by the South Side Weekly. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

When Unsafe Behavior Happens in a Safe Space

My husband dropped me off at my therapist and went to park the car. I was early so I felt relaxed as I approached the doors leading into the reception area. As I reached toward the door, a man spoke authoritatively: “Don’t touch that door!” and then hit the accessible entrance button. As the door opened I said, “Thank you for opening the door, but you startled me.” He didn’t respond. I walked through the first door toward the second door when he again spoke with authority, “Don’t touch that door!”

This second command triggered flashbacks. When I was 17, a friend of a friend opened a door, cornered me, and then raped me. Now here I was in two places at once. I knew where I was and yet I was frozen. I heard my IMPACT instructors Martha and Mark encouraging me to pay attention and I was aware that my guard was up.

The second door opened as soon as the first door closed and as the man brushed past me he said, “Well, I’m glad that’s finally working again.” He walked into the offices, apparently done testing the doors. I asked the receptionist, “Is that the maintenance man?” She said, “No, he is our CEO.” I asked her to ask him to come out to the reception area.

He came out, moving very close to me, and asked if he could help me. I put up my hands and said, “Take a step back.  You are the CEO for a counseling center. Have you had any training on understanding people who are going through counseling?”

“No, I work on the business side.”

“I’m coming here for therapy and by your behavior you just recreated the situation in which I am receiving counseling for.”

He was embarrassed and reached out his arm to lead me as he said, “Let’s step into my office.”

I put my hands up and said, “Back up. You don’t command someone in a counseling center not to touch a door.” He tried to interrupt me and I wouldn’t let him. I said, “I am telling you this because you are the CEO. You are not listening to me. Stop speaking and hear what I am saying.” When I recognized that he was not listening, I said, “You’ve proven to me that you are not listening to what I’m saying. Go back to your office.”

My head was spinning and I was very angry but I felt Martha on my left and Mark on my right and that they were supporting me while IMPACT was coming out of my mouth. My husband entered the building as I was speaking to the CEO. He told me later that I was very firm, held my ground, and was very articulate. He noticed that I had one hand on my hip and asked me about that. I said, “I was in a position to elbow him if he came after me when I turned to go to my therapist’s office.”  

I was trembling as I went upstairs to my therapist’s office. There was a young man there and I started talking to him. I told him what happened. He was mellow and calm and I noted that. He said his situation happened in an uber car and that he is working on being calm. He said I am in my teens and I’m trying to have a better adult life. I felt so proud of this young man for taking care of himself. I felt so good that I had him to talk to at that moment.  

When I left, the receptionist gave me a hug and said, “You did everything right.”  I took the Core Program in 2003 and then Defense Against Multiple Assailants several years ago. I feel like IMPACT gets stronger for me every year.

Michelle Schmitt

Monday, July 29, 2019

You Don't Own Me

"You Don't Own Me" is a pop song written over 50 years ago by John Madara and David White. It was recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963. It was one of her most popular recordings. Amazing how relevant the words are today. You can listen to Lesley Gore singing this iconic song HERE.

You don't own me
I'm not just one of your many toys
You don't own me
Don't say I can't go with other boys
And don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go out with you
Don't put me on display 'cause
You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay
I don't tell you what to say
I don't tell you what to do
So just let me be myself
That's all I ask of you
I'm young and I love to be young
I'm free and I love to be free
To live my life the way I want
To say and do whatever I please
And don't tell me what to do

source: LyricFind

To read more about the importance of Lesley Gore's recording of "You Don't Own Me," check out "'You Don't Own Me,' A Feminist Anthem with Civil Rights Roots, Is All about Empathy."

Monday, July 22, 2019

What's an Empowering Phrase for You?

On June 18, we asked IMPACT grads on Facebook: Is there an empowering phrase or mantra that has really stuck with you since taking your IMPACT course? Here is what grads said:

AC: "Learning to use my big chest-voice was a key lesson. And as recently as today, not caring how others see me--as I do stretches in public after a long day of walking to loosen up my back. My favorite saying: "a wise woman once said, 'screw this stuff and lived happily ever after.'"

Alexandria: "Knowing that appropriate use of voice is such a large tool in keeping safe has been important to me and is something I pass on to others."

Alicia: "It's okay to maintain my physical boundaries," referring to folks who approach me."

Byler: "Keeping myself safe is more important than trying to please others."

Emily: "Use your voice!"

Sarah: "Your safety is worth anyone's embarassment, even your own."

Yudit: "She's READY."

Monday, July 15, 2019

Talking IMPACT with Grad Elizabeth

Blog contributor Maple Joy interviewed IMPACT Grad Elizabeth* about her IMPACT Core Program experience.

When and what IMPACT course did you take? December 2018 - Core Program

Why did you want to take IMPACT? - I work in an environment that involves talking to
strangers all day, which is something I usually really enjoy – however, last year I had a situation with one of these strangers in which nothing identifiable necessarily "happened", but the things that did occur all made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe and in danger - then later unhappy with how I'd handled myself. I went home and signed up for the next IMPACT core class that night. I'm so glad that I did - I was mostly looking for practical skills, not a transformative experience; somehow, I got both.

How did you feel prior to, during and after taking the course? I'm not a particularly sporty person and had never taken a self-defense class before, so I really had no idea of what to expect beyond what I'd learned about IMPACT when I signed up. The three-day time commitment was a little intimidating but made perfect sense once the class began - even that Friday night after the first class, I took my dog outside for their nightly walk and already felt different, more present, less afraid, more aware of my own power. Since completing the course, I luckily haven't had a need to test the more physical skills, however, I do feel different as I move through space, just walking down the street, establishing my boundaries, with the knowledge that if this is the day someone grabs me from behind (or tens of other scenarios) I have everything I need to survive.

Would you encourage other women to take an IMPACT course? If so, what would you say? I want every woman to have the opportunity to take this course - really every person. I wish that this had been a part of my public education, that I had taken it at 12 and 16 and 21 etc. - some of the most powerful parts of the class are just fundamental skills, establishing your own boundaries, enforcing those boundaries, finding your voice, taking up space in the world. To be in a space with badass women (and allied men who've let you kick them in the (padded) groin all day), all of whom want you to feel safe and confident and strong in your daily life - such a good feeling!

 Are there ways in which you’ve helped spread the word about IMPACT or ways others can help? Volunteer! Take a course! Host a class! Encourage someone else to take a course!

*Name may have been changed.

#IMPACTChicago #IMPACTChicagoCoreProgram #SelfDefense #Boundaries #FindingYourVoice #Volunteer #WomanEmpowerment

Monday, July 8, 2019

Are Predators Cowards?

While campaigning in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris said: "predators are cowards." Empowerment Self-Defense instructors have a lot of agreement about what predatory behavior is, but they don't all label rapists and predators cowards. See below for Lisa Gaeta Why I Call Rapists Cowards and Susan Schorn Why I Don't Call Rapists Cowards.

Why I Call Rapists Cowards
Lisa Gaeta, Founder and CEO, IMPACT Personal Safety of Southern California
Rapists are cowards. In our society and in our movies and books, men prove their power by fighting other men or women who are at least as strong as them, with similar skill sets and not knowing if they will overcome or not. But the rapist chooses his victim to ASSURE himself that he can’t lose.
Telling students that the man who is attacking them is most likely trying to overcome something he feels he lacks as a man, helps them to understand that he is not all-powerful. We give rapists too much power. If we learn at a young age to speak up for ourselves and to defend ourselves, we take control of the power over our own safety. My job is to teach women how to stay safe in the face of imminent danger.
      Strong, confident men don’t attack people whom they perceive as weaker than them.  Even the man who is a high-powered executive, who verbally or physically abuses his family or kicks the dog when he’s angry, is trying to overcome a feeling of powerlessness.
      We do not teach our students to call their attacker a coward. We teach them to de-escalate using verbal strategies and body language. If that doesn’t work – although we have more success stories about people talking their way out of a situation rather than fighting than anything else – they are able to physically defend themselves.
      I believe this to be the case because our graduates do not present themselves as a good target. They BELIEVE that they have the right and the skills to defend themselves if necessary. And because that’s true, the attacker is deterred – because he’s a coward looking for an easy target.

Why I Don’t Call Rapists Cowards      
Susan Schorn, Empowerment Self Defense Instructor, Austin Texas               
I appreciate Lisa's perspective and wouldn't call it "wrong." I've often told self-defense students, "You don't need to be stronger than an attacker; you only need to be stronger than they think you are. And assault victims are often targeted because of some perceived weakness, so any effort you make to defend yourself will probably surprise your attacker and give you an advantage." When I say this to students, I'm trying, as I think Lisa is, to break through the social conditioning that makes women and other marginalized individuals feel helpless in the face of threatened assault.
      But I think defining assailants as "cowards" limits our focus. It makes us think in terms of brave men, who have abundant integrity and self-control and thus don't "need" to assault others. In this dynamic, it's easy to position "real" masculinity as honorable and protective, meaning that rape and assault only occur when men don't have "enough" of the "real" masculine traits. In a weird way, "rapists are cowards" implies that men should refrain from raping anyone not because it's wrong, and harms another human, but rather because it betrays weakness, and is, for that reason, shameful. That's a fundamental dynamic of toxic masculinity: your identity is built entirely on being brave/strong/silent, and thereby avoiding shame.
      Now, I have no problem with shaming rapists. But I'm not keen on tying our disapproval of rape to age-old stereotypes about masculine strengths. Those stereotypes are, by and large, the reason we live in a rape culture today.  
     Lisa says that "Strong, confident men don’t attack people whom they perceive as weaker than them." This is a message I'm sure many young men have heard as they grow up. And yet, I look around and see ample evidence that "strong, confident men" do attack people whom they perceive as weaker—they do it all the time. The #MeToo movement has shown us that many of them have gotten away with it for decades. They do so, as Empowerment Self-Defense Anne Kuzminsky says, because "Predators and their enablers behave in an entitled, not necessarily cowardly way." In other words, the assailant Lisa considers "cowardly" may still be extremely confident, and may be possessed of all manner of privilege and status that allows them to victimize people around them. I expect Lisa might say, "Well, that person is still a coward, because they work hard to minimize the risk to themselves when they victimize others." And I suspect an assailant in that position—if they were being honest—would say, "Yeah. So what? You can call me cowardly, but I'm getting what I want, and no one can touch me."
      We may teach boys that strong, confident men who don't attack others are admirable. But somewhere along the way, the same culture that professes those values also teaches boys that strong, confident men who take what they want and evade justice belong in positions of authority and high status.
     I do feel, like Lisa, that the message "rapists are cowards" can help survivors and potential victims re-frame their understanding of attackers' power. But it's probably not going to be successful at reducing rape. Because the ideal of gentlemanly behavior has been around for centuries, and rape still hasn't gone away.

Monday, July 1, 2019

IMPACT Chicago Social Media

IMPACT Chicago engages in social media in three main ways: 
  • Daily Facebook (M-F since 2009)
  • Weekly IMPACT Chicago Blog  (447 Blogs since January 2011)
  • Monthly E-News (since April 2010)
Broadly speaking, our content is focused on:
  • Empowerment – not a downer or fear-based
  • Power, self-efficacy, and resilience not a message of charity or helping
  • Tools, not Rules (i.e. no “safety tips”)
  • Ordinary people engaging in things that are accessible to the majority of people to take action about, not the extraordinary efforts of a few individuals who have resources unavailable to most people.
  • A challenge to stereotypes or myths rooted in sexist, racist, class-based, religious, national notions.
  • Action and reflection
Meet our Social Media Team

Arden, Social Media Consultant

"I work with IMPACT Chicago to develop social media strategies to create a greater sense of community and a broader reach to women in the Chicagoland area."

Dana, E-news Editor

"I appreciate the opportunity to help with IMPACT’s e-newsletter. IMPACT has a wonderful community of graduates and supporters, and I love helping to keep them informed and connected. 

Kim, Facebook Technical Coordinator

"I got involved with IMPACT Chicago after my teenage daughter completed IMPACT for Girls. I saw what a difference it made in her confidence and I felt better knowing she had the skills and the belief in her abilities to protect herself." 

Maple Joy, Blog Contributor

"What better way to encourage, empower, and embrace than to share stories that can impact someone's life for the best. I look forward to blogging about the benefits that myself and others have experienced by taking IMPACT." 

Martha, Social Media Coordinator, Editor, & Contributor

"I'm committed to using social media to bring more people into our classes, to appreciate the power and courage of the people who take our programs, to network with other empowerment organizations, and to contribute to building a public more informed about violence against women, IMPACT, and Empowerment Self-Defense."

Rachel, Facebook Contributor

"I'm excited about using Facebook to help IMPACT grads connect with one another and reflect on their experience. It's also a great way to spotlight examples of the diverse ways that people use techniques like voice and boundary setting to advocate for themselves and others."

Interested in Joining the IMPACT Chicago Social Media Team?
  • Like, comment, share, and contribute any day!
  • Contribute to a social media platform we are not currently using
We know there are more social media platforms out there! We need volunteers with knowledge of other platforms, the willingness to develop deep knowledge about IMPACT, and the time to keep a social media platform current. Contact us if you would like to join the team.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Empowering Self-Defense Instructors

“IMPACT connected me spiritually with all the other women in the group and gave me courage, a sense of belonging and empowerment.” Danuta

So much of the power of IMPACT and other empowerment self-defense programs comes from students learning from and supporting each other. And guess what? Collective learning and support is also the backbone of ongoing professional development of IMPACT and other empowerment self-defense instructors.

Are you already teaching self-defense? Learning to teach? Want to know more about teaching empowerment self-defense? Then check out the Self-Defense Instruction Conference (SDIC) hosted by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF),  North Central College in Naperville, July 17-21 or for one day of training called Super Saturday on July 20.

The NWMAF is a leader in empowerment self-defense. Through SDIC, NWMAF offers professional development and credentialing to self-defense instructors, including cutting-edge research to best-practices in classroom management, from non-profit service to running an effective business.  The 2019 SDIC Committee has organized an enriching and exciting conference: teaching self-defense against hate crimes, teaching self-defense to youth with development disabilities, how to get CEUS for self-defense programming and so much more!

Maryam Aziz:
Hate Crime Self-Defense Part 1: Applying Research to the Self-Defense Workshop
Hate Crime Self-Defense Part 2: Teaching Defenses Against Hate Crimes
Jacqueline Barco:
Trauma Sensitive Martial Arts Training

Liz Fitzgerald:
Building Training Scenarios: Creating Successful SD Scenarios
Effective Role Playing for ESD Training
Marketing ESD: Identifying and Speaking to Your Audience

Justine Halliwill:
Sexual Coercion: How Do I Defend Myself?
Sexual Assertiveness: Creating Common Language and New Models

Julie Harmon:
The ABCs of Experiential Exercises for Teaching Self-Defense: Young People with Developmental Disabilities
Allies and Upstanders: Parts 1 and 2

Arlene Limas:
Protecting Elite Athletes with ESD

Diane Long:
Self-Defense for Sexually Exploited Youth
Sensory Integration and Self-Protection
Best Practices for Seeking CEUs for Martial Arts and Self-Defense Programming
The Energetics of Embodied Activism

Nancy Moore:
How to Teach Falling and How to Fall
Writing for Martial Arts and Self-Defense Instructors

Jay O’Shea:
Theater Games for ESD Trainings
Getting Comfortable with Role Play in ESD Teaching

Clara Porter:
Workplace Sexual Harassment Training: An ESD Approach

Yudit Sidikman and Carmel Drewes (Core ESD curriculum):
ESD Model Course: What is Empowerment Self-Defense?
ESD Model Course: Verbal: assertiveness, intervention, de-escalation
ESD Model Course: Escapes from Grabs and Holds
ESD Model Course: Fighting Back Physically
ESD Model Course: Scenarios and Wrap-Up

Meg Stone:
How to get Grants for ESD

Joyce Mende Wong / Amy Jones / Joanne Factor:
If It's Valuable, Shouldn't We Charge for it? The Merits of Offering Self-Defense Classes for Free

Thank you to the NWMAF SDIC Conference Committee 2019
Anne Kuzminsky, Chair
Clara Porter
Joyce Mende-Wong
With support from Darla Bolon

Monday, June 17, 2019

Turn Your Feelings Into Fearlessness

When you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation, how does it make you feel?

Fearful Afraid Scared Nervous

Worried Intimidated Panic

Frightened Anxiety Terrified Helpless

For help, many look to family and friends, some look to therapy, and then there are others who choose IMPACT.

IMPACT participants have asked themselves this very question, and their answers are just like those listed above. According to Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear, many women should trust the power of their intuition and follow through on their instinct. Women shouldn’t worry about someone else’s feelings in an unsafe situation that would compromise their own, because often times, it’s a matter of life and death. Pay attention to that inner voice, and allow it to embrace your power of perception.

You’ve now looked at all of your options and you decide to sign up for an IMPACT course. Now you start to wonder what to expect. Your mind eventually starts racing in hopes of either calming you down or getting super excited over what’s to come.

Your class has finally started. The first day is usually quite comical, or so you think. You don’t feel as strong as you’ve always mentally thought. You can’t comprehend why the various scenarios you are participating in are not reflecting what you see on television. You may feel terrified or paralyze at what your about to experience. Yet, others may feel they are reliving a traumatic event.

Regardless of how you feel when you initially walk-in, the instructors and volunteers hope that your emotions become much different throughout the course. With the help of your classmates and the power within yourself, the instructors and volunteers hope you find yourself feeling...

Encouraged Uplifted Tested Reassured

Strengthened Motivated

Inspired Comforted Supported Driven

Just as quickly as the weekend starts it soon comes to an end. All those feelings you had prior to and during may have changed multiple times the course have changed again - this time for the better, but hopefully not for the worse. .

So, how does the IMPACT organization want you to feel after you’ve taken a course?
Empowered Strong Courageous Fearless

Bold Aware Heroic

Confident Tenacious Unyielding Brave

Women and girls have found the strength, courage, and power to set boundaries, assess dangerous situations, and respond effectively to verbal or physical attacks. IMPACT allows individuals to walk into a safe space - feeling accepted despite their circumstances or what they’ve been through. There is just one goal in mind - turning those negative words into positive ones.

No matter what option you look to for help, remember to never ignore your intuition, and turn your feelings into fearlessness!

Maple Joy
New IMPACT Chicago Contributor--look for future posts by Maple Joy the third week of each month.

Monday, June 10, 2019

IMPACT Grads Talk about Consent and Boundaries

 "I'm much more comfortable dropping into my 'take me seriously' voice." Chloe
Graduates who have reported intrusive or unsafe situations after the class, often say taking a strong stance and using a powerful voice (no matter how loud) was typically all they needed to do to disrupt a potentially uncomfortable or threatening situation. At its foundation, IMPACT is focused on people building the skills to be able to say YES to what they want and NO to what they don’t want.

We recently asked IMPACT Chicago Facebook Friends if IMPACT had helped them to come to any realization or new understandings about consent and boundaries. Below are some responses.

IMPACT Chicago graduate Lauren notes that she developed a  deep understanding of consent and bodily autonomy:
"I took the course almost 10 years ago, but since then I have thought about consent 100% differently. Not just my own--but now that I have a son--I respect his bodily autonomy and teach him that his body is HIS--and that no one has a "right" to it. I hope as he grows up this translates to a better understanding of the way he approaches other people and respects their boundaries."

Mingkwan took her first course in Tokyo and then at IMPACT Chicago. She shared two stories about how she has put her IMPACT training into practice.
"I was walking towards Tokyo station at night when I saw a man strangling a woman. It was a very crowded place in Tokyo. So many people were looking at them, but they didn't do anything. I wasn't sure if it was domestic violence or he had mental issues but I started to observe to see if he had weapons. Then I grabbed her hand and we ran from there together. I asked if she wanted to call the police but she refused. After she left, I called the police and told them what happened and asked them to patrol the area."

"This happened after I moved back to Thailand. I was walking through a dark and isolated alley at night when  a man approached me. He said, 'Honey, I want to ask you something. Can I f--- you.' Without IMPACT, I'd have been terrified and felt powerless. But I started to observe my surroundings. Even though it was a dark alley, I lived nearby and knew the area well. I knew that I could ask for help and he was standing faraway from me so he couldn't harm me. So I said, 'No, I'm good. I don't think having sex with you would be fun. If you were good at it, girls would have come to you and you wouldn't have to stand here and ask this question. He looked really shocked. I walked away. I know you've heard this a thousand times, but thank you for transforming my life."

IMPACT Chicago graduate Chloe (pictured and quoted above) also wrote about her experience of the IMPACT Core Program in IMPACT, Diva Remix.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Changes at IMPACT Chicago

Front: Lisa, Mindy, Amy Back: Tara, Martha, Kathleen
Admin Team members not pictured: Laura & Katie 
Administrative Team Co-Leaders Lisa Amoroso and Martha Thompson are announcing changes in the IMPACT Chicago Administrative Team as of June 1, 2019. 

We will miss Tara Brinkman, outgoing Registration and Workshop Coordinator, and Kathleen Williamsen, outgoing Office Coordinator, both of whom have helped us create a strong Administrative Team of volunteers and paid staff and have committed to being available for ongoing training with Amy Harmon, incoming Registration and Workshop Coordinator, and Mindy Hilt, incoming Office Coordinator. We will also miss Laura Dini, outgoing Outreach Coordinator, who has been a valuable staff member attending IMPACT Chicago Board meetings in addition to her other work. We also appreciate the contributions Caroline Villa made while we have been in transition. See below for more about these changes and the people who do so much of the behind-the-scenes work for IMPACT Chicago.

We are excited that Amy and Mindy are joining the Administrative Team consisting of  Admin Team Leaders Lisa and Martha and Treasurer Katie Skibbe. Currently, Registration/Workshops, Office, and Outreach Coordinators are paid staff positions and Admin Co-Team Leaders and Treasurer are volunteer positions. 

Registration and Workshop Coordinator
The Registration and Workshop Coordinator is the “front-line” of IMPACT. As the first person most people outside IMPACT communicate with, the Registration and Workshop Coordinator needs to communicate in a manner consistent with the IMPACT mission and process. Besides handling the important and big jobs of scheduling and registration, the Registration and Workshop Coordinator is who we depend upon to build supportive relationships with people who want to take one of our programs and to build collaborative relationships with organizations to offer workshops.

Tara Brinkman, Outgoing Registration and Workshop Coordinator

Tara says: Reflecting on the past six years as the Registration and Workshop Coordinator IMPACT at Chicago, what I’m most proud of and what I’ll miss most is the collaborative spirit of our admin team and our accomplishments in expanding access to IMPACT programming regardless of economic status. While I am sad to be transitioning out of this role, I am looking forward to continuing my work with IMPACT by leading short workshops, as well as joining the IMPACT Chicago board in the Fall of 2019.” 

Lisa says: "Tara’s ability to focus on the underlying issue or the heart of a matter has allowed our administrative team to stay focused and successfully resolve issues quickly and often to grow as a team as a result. She is a forward-focused person, who is also present in the moment in the most positive of ways. Tara has a true gift for articulating the principles of empowerment-based self-defense. We are thrilled that she is going to be joining the board and so IMPACT will continue to benefit from her wisdom and spirit."

Amy Harmon, incoming Registration and Workshop Coordinator

After completing the Core Program in 2017, Amy became a class assistant and What is IMPACT facilitator. In 2018, Amy took on a big role as the IMPACT Chicago Volunteer Coordinator. When Tara decided to move onto other adventures, we all agreed we wanted to ask Amy to consider becoming a paid staff member. And we are so fortunate that she said, "Yes!"

Amy says:  "I vividly remember the positivity and power that filled the room during my Core Program: brought by every single participant, and nurtured and supported by an incredible team of instructors and volunteers. While Volunteer Coordinator, I've had the joy of watching group after group fill their own rooms, and the heart-smile of playing a part in assembling the amazing components of their support teams. I expect that experience to deepen in all kinds of ways as I move into the Registration/Workshop Coordinator position. I've had an amazing role model in Tara, and I hope to do her proud!"

Martha says: "Amy has superb organizational skills and is efficient and effective. She also has a simultaneously joyful and serious approach to tackling big issues and dealing with small details. Tara has left big shoes to fill but what I so appreciate about Amy is that she will treasure and honor those big shoes of Tara but will be wearing her own big shoes. I am looking forward to working with Amy in her new role in IMPACT. 


The Office Coordinator position involves overseeing the annual fund drive, managing the materials and bags for all IMPACT Chicago programs, coordinating a lot of internal communications, and routine office tasks. The Office Coordinator has to have strong verbal and written communication skills, extensive experience with Google Drive, Microsoft Office Productivity tools, and Photoshop. 

Kathleen Williamsen, Outgoing Office Coordinator

Kathleen says: Working for IMPACT has been such a blessing for me. Everyone involved in the organization has been so caring and kind, intelligent, considerate, and most of all inspiring. I just can't believe how lucky I have been to work with these incredible administrators and instructors. This has been a very rewarding part of my life, knowing that I've played a small part in helping other women and girls find their voice. It's a reality fulfilling and powerful feeling. Leaving IMPACT was an incredibly difficult decision, but it is in the best interest of the organization and myself since it's been so hard to manage things from out of state. IMPACT will always be a part of me."

Lisa Says: Kathleen epitomizes what we mean when we call IMPACT a “nimble organization.” Kathleen manages to do all of the required invisible work without adding any unnecessary steps or creating any red-tape. She gets the job done. She is not the type of person who needs or seeks the limelight and is such a centered, principled person that she simply got the work done. We tried hard to recognize her invisible work but with her humble approach, we know that often we took for granted that something would be taken care of without fully acknowledging that it was Kathleen who had taken care of it. Kathleen’s positive energy and generous smile will be missed.

Caroline Villa, Outgoing Office Support

When Kathleen was managing the Office from Wisconsin, IMPACT Grad (Core 2013; DAMA 2015) Caroline Villa stepped up to do necessary office work.

Caroline says: "IMPACT has a special place in my heart since the courses I took gave me back my power. It was my pleasure to help during the period of time when difficult decisions needed to be made."

Out Martha says: "We are so grateful for Caroline's willingness to do important office work for us while Kathleen was managing the office from Wisconsin. We truly could not have managed as we did without Caroline's willingness to step in.

Mindy Hilt, Incoming Office Coordinator

The Office Coordinator position involves overseeing the annual fund drive, managing the materials and bags for all IMPACT Chicago programs, coordinating a lot of internal communications, as well as routine office tasks, The Office Coordinator has to have strong verbal and written communication skills, extensive experience with Google Drive, Microsoft Office Productivity tools, and Photoshop. 

Mindy says: I’m so thrilled for the opportunity to work with IMPACT Chicago. Last year my daughter took the girls program and learned so many skills in such a short time but also came out of it with a new sense of empowerment that I believe all girls and women can benefit from. I’m excited to bring my experience to IMPACT and help IMPACT grow and thrive and continue its important mission."
Martha says: "We had several applicants for the Office Coordinator position. Lisa and I interviewed Mindy and after she left, we looked at each other and I said, "Should we run down the street after her?" We, instead, immediately sent her an offer via email, text, and voicemail. We were thrilled when she said, "Yes."

Laura M. Dini, Outgoing Outreach Coordinator
The Outreach Coordinator position involves connecting more people and organizations with IMPACT programs and mission.
Laura says:  "I've been very proud to work with IMPACT Chicago. IMPACT's mission & goals are crucial in building a safer society. There is still unfortunately an imbalance of power in our society and until balance is achieved, IMPACT will continue to strive to empower women & girls to discover the strength they have within. I agree with Gandhi who said; "Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery."

Lisa says: We are so appreciative of Laura's work and energy. Laura's commitment to IMPACT’s mission has always been so palpable whenever she is sharing information about our programs! I knowshe will continue to be a champion of IMPACT’s work.