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Our staff

MEET OUR STAFF

The Institute for Nonviolence Chicago is grateful to have a staff made up of individuals who don’t just do the work—they care deeply about Chicago and the epidemic of violence in our city. Most of our staff members started fighting against violence long before they joined Nonviolence Chicago, and they bring a wide variety of education, experience, and expertise to the underrepresented neighborhoods where we work.

A veteran of the Israeli Defense Force, Teny began his career working to build peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Soon after, he became a street outreach worker in Boston. He was later founder and CEO for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI in 2000. In 2015, Teny was recruited to Chicago to aid in our violence reduction efforts. He founded the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago and now serves as Executive Director. Teny is actively involved in shaping Chicago’s citywide community violence intervention strategy and building partnerships with key institutions–what he terms the New Civilian Architecture of Violence Reduction. Teny has a BFA from Tufts, an MTS from Harvard, and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School. 

​Teny Gross
Executive Director
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Lisa has spent much of her career fighting for justice throughout Illinois. She graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2000 and served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Cook County’s criminal division from 2000–2007. Lisa then accepted the position of Chief of Medical Prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Prior to joining the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago in January 2016, Lisa served as Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority.

Lisa Stephens
Chief Operating Officer
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Marlena is a social justice advocate who is passionate about systems reform, equity initiatives, and improving outcomes for those involved in the justice system. For over nine years, she worked at the Cook County Jail and ultimately rose to the position of First Assistant Executive Director. During her tenure there, Marlena learned the principals of restorative justice and the power of leading with empathy, compassion, and a trauma-informed lens. Marlena also worked for former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn as Deputy Director of Communications. Marlena has a BA from Saint Louis University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Marlena Jentz
Vice President of Operations and Strategic Partnerships
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An experienced board member and former Fortune 100 C-Suite executive, Sonny has over 25-years of experience in strategically examining conventional thinking to transform mature organizations and create new enterprises within the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Most recently, he launched and ran the energy division at Uptake Technologies. Prior to that, he was a member of the Executive Committee and the Chief Information & Innovation Officer at Exelon Corporation. Sonny began his career at The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago conducting research in inner cities. He later served as an Assistant to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and was appointed a White House Fellow by President Clinton. Sonny believes deeply in the Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence and the power it holds to build the Beloved Community for everyone.

Sonny Garg
Interim Vice President of Organizational Advancement       
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Birgetta has joined the Institute of Nonviolence Chicago as the Director of Human Resources.  She has over 30 years of human resources experience in the non-profit sector, including talent engagement strategy, people and organization development, total rewards, performance management, employee wellness, employee and labor relations, and diversity equity, inclusion and belonging.  She earned a MSHR from the Indiana Wesleyan University and a BBA degree from Loyola University Chicago. 

Birgetta Williams
Director of Human Resources
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Samuel Castro
Director of Community Violence Intervention
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Samuel has been doing outreach work for over ten years with a variety of organizations. He was an Outreach Worker with Nonviolence Chicago prior to being promoted to Outreach Program Manager. Now in his current position of Director of Community Violence Intervention he oversees Outreach and Victim Services. Sam is a motivated leader who believes in others and always pushes himself and his team to perform at a higher level. The last time Samuel was incarcerated, he spent 12 years in custody. Upon release, he began working to turn his life and community around. He is close to his children and family and is truly an example of growth and change. 

Jimi has spent his entire professional career of over 20 years dedicated to youth, families and communities in Chicago.  He has a bachelor's degree in African American Studies and a master's degree in Public Administration.  Jimi began his career in case management with with the Department of Children and Family Services.  He then led all youth services, violence prevention and workforce development efforts in the Englewood community at Children’s Home + Aid.  Prior to joining the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago in March 2021, Jimi served as the Director of Education and Youth Development at the Chicago Urban League. 

Jimi Orange
Director of Training and Education
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Tara Dabney has a BA in Psychology and Religion from Transylvania University. She brings over 20 years of diverse experience working to prevent and end domestic violence, providing advocacy for victims of violence, and working in program management, fundraising and grant writing, and management. Most recently, she managed a staff of over 50 advocates as the Deputy Director of the Victim Witness Unit of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Tara Dabney
Director of Development and Communications
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Kelly Carroll, LCSW, earned her BA in Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her MSW at the University of Southern California. Kelly has worked with survivors of trauma for over 13 years in various clinical settings focusing on issues such as homelessness, acute medical care, readjustment to civilian life from the military, reducing community violence, and PTSD related to combat trauma, sexual trauma, and community violence.  After spending 10 years working with military veterans and their family members, she most recently worked as a trauma specialist at Chicago CRED where she trained staff in trauma-informed care practices and oversaw the development and implementation of a cognitive behavioral intervention designed to build resilience from trauma. She has a special interest in the intersection between trauma and public policy and addressing trauma exposure among violence intervention workers. 

Kelly Carroll
Associate Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness
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Joseph Guisti
Data Strategist and Research Coordinator 

Joseph earned his PhD from Northwestern University. His doctoral work, based in Mexico City, traced efforts by addiction treatment centers, state and local governments and mental health clinicians to eliminate violence in the treatment of substance abuse disorders. He has presented his research in the United States, Mexico and Europe, and is the recipient of multiple awards and fellowships, including the 2014 Karpf Peace Prize. He first came to Institute for Nonviolence Chicago in 2016 as a qualitative researcher, contributing to two years of evaluation research on Nonviolence Chicago with University of Chicago’s Urban Labs. He officially joined Nonviolence Chicago as Data Strategist and Research Coordinator in 2019. In addition to his work here, he teaches sociology research methods, organizational sociology and the sociology of gangs at Northwestern, where he also serves as Faculty Director for Northwestern’s online Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences.

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Les Jenkins
Victim Services Program Manager

Les Jenkins is Program Manager of Victim Services for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. He is a trauma-informed care specialist and is certified in nonviolence and CBI training. Previously Les worked in residential treatment for substance abuse. Now, he is also a business owner in the community. Les is a gun violence survivor. At 17, he was shot in both legs with his first-born daughter in his arms. It took him 9 months to walk again. This work is so important to Les because there were no supportive organizations, like Nonviolence Chicago, when he was dealing with his trauma and recovery. Les believes it is critical to meet people on the front lines when people feel hopeless and helpless.

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Nekenya has been doing violence prevention work for 17 years in the Austin community. In 2017, he started as an Outreach Worker with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. He has been promoted three times and currently holds the Manager position. He has conducted more than 1500 conflict mediations that were resolved without any violent incidents. Nekenya also recruited key individuals to participate in the FLIP program who went on to become fulltime Nonviolence Chicago staff and assisted many high risk young men get a Commercial Driver’s License.  Nekenya was introduced into violence prevention after he was shot. He was convinced not to retaliate by family and a Nonviolence Chicago outreach worker. When he realized how he was helping his community, he discovered he had a passion for violence prevention. That same passion still drives Nekenya to build the Beloved Community.

Nekenya Hardy
Outreach Manager
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Latasha lived in the Austin community for over 25 years and is passionate about the safety and well-being of its community members. She has been involved in the Parent Leaders Action Network with New Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church as well as organizing the Unity Peace Ride in the Austin Community. Latasha has also volunteered with several other organizations on Chicago’s West Side. Latasha has a BS and MBA in Business Management. Because of her passion and desire to make a difference in the community where she grew up, Latasha decided to change careers so she could contribute her talents to the field of Nonviolence.

Latasha Henry
Case Management Supervisor
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Artimmeo Williamson
Reentry Supervisor

Artimmeo has roots in West Garfield Park and Austin where he was born and raised. In 2017, he began working with Nonviolence Chicago as an Outreach Worker. He transitioned to case management and was selected as our first Reentry Specialist. Having been to prison himself, Artimmeo is committed to being a resource and guide to others making their way back into society. Because of his hard work and commitment to the program and participants, Artimmeo was promoted to Lead Reentry Specialist and is now serving as Reentry Supervisor for all our neighborhoods. He strives to make our reentry HOPE (Helping Our People Excel) program the go-to resource for the reentry population, curb recidivism, and establish Nonviolence Chicago as a pillar of peace in the community.

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Frederick has been doing outreach work for over 14 years with a variety of organizations and was a victim advocate with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago prior to being promoted to his current position of Supervisor. As Supervisor, he has led the expansion of our coverage area in West Garfield Park. He is a motivated leader who believes in others and always pushes himself and his team to perform at a higher level. Fred is from the community and is working hard to rebuild it from within. As a single father raising four young men, he knows the importance of a safe neighborhood.

Frederick Seaton
Outreach Supervisor, West Garfield Park
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Marcus has been doing outreach work for over 5 years with a variety of organizations and was an Outreach Worker with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago prior to being promoted to Lead Outreach Worker then Supervisor. He is a trusted leader who believes in his team’s ability to succeed. Marcus also supervises our FLIP Peace Ambassadors for the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago in West Garfield Park. Marcus was born and raised in West Garfield Park. He knows he was a part of the hurt within the community and has dedicated himself to being part of healing the community. He also owns a security business which he utilizes to employee and uplift other community members from West Garfield Park.

Marcus Mitchell
Outreach Supervisor, West Garfield Park
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Shay Knox
Outreach Supervisor, Back of the Yards Site

Shay has lived in Back of the Yards her entire life. She has consistently worked in the community she is from to build up those who have experienced trauma and violence. Prior to becoming the Outreach Supervisor, Shay was an Outreach Worker for two years in Back of the Yards. As a parent raising teenage sons in the community, Shay knows first-hand how important it is to show love and bring opportunities to those around her. Prior to working for Nonviolence Chicago she was the Inventory Team Lead for RGIS Inventory for 16 years. Prior to this, she was incarcerated for over two years, during which she determined to turn her life around.

James Mitchell
Outreach Supervisor, Austin
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James was born and raised in the Austin community. He was a victim of gun violence and also part of the problem. After losing many family members and friends to gun violence, Nonviolence Chicago Outreach Workers were there to offer support and encouragement. During one of our pop-up events, James was impressed with how we supported the community despite potential danger. He decided to make a life change. He signed up to be a FLIP Peacekeeper and was quickly hired as an Outreach Worker. James is now Outreach Supervisor in Austin where he is also raising his family.  His sons are the driving force behind his dedication to building peace and making the community a better place. James is proud to say he no longer carries a gun and is happy to do the courageous work of being a peacemaker.

Carlos Colon
Victim Services Supervisor, Back of the Yards and West Garfield Park

Carlos Colon is one of Nonviolence Chicago’s Victim Services Supervisors. He oversees teams in the Back of the Yards and West Garfield Park neighborhoods. Carlos was a victim of gun violence many years ago. When he was just 20 years old, he was shot multiple times by a rival street organization. Because Carlos chose to react with violence, he spent many years in jail. There, Carlos decided to change his future and focus on his education. He earned a construction certification and his associates degree. Carlos came to Nonviolence Chicago in 2018 as a Reentry Case Manager. He then transitioned to a Victim Advocate and was quickly promoted to a Supervisor. He now uses his lived experience to bring peace to the city and support other victims of violence and their families. Carlos currently lives on the West side of Chicago with his wife. Together they share four children. Carlos is motivated to do all he can to prevent violence and reduce recidivism rates. He aspires to earn his bachelor’s degree in social services so he can further his professional career with Nonviolence Chicago.    

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Jeremy Clay
Victim Services Supervisor, Austin

Jeremy Clay has experience in several Nonviolence Chicago programs. He started as a FLIP Peacekeeper and took part in our Reentry 2.0 program. In 2022, he became a Victim Advocate and within the year was promoted to Supervisor of Victim Services for the Austin area. Jeremy is from and still lives in Austin. He says he was “part of the problem for so long and helped destroy the community.” Now he is committed to rebuilding it - for himself, his wife and children, and the entire community.

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Tommie Jenkins
READI Chicago Supervisor, Austin

Tommie grew up in the Austin neighborhood. He lost multiple family members and friends to gun violence. He participated in the street life and spent over a decade in jail on drug charges. When he was released, he started working in construction. However, he always knew he wanted to support at-risk youth. So, when he was recruited by a Nonviolence Chicago Outreach Worker, he decided to change his career and follow his passion. He was hired as a READI Outreach Worker in 2017 and after two years, he was promoted to a Supervisor. The community has known Tommie for decades, and now he is happy that he can have a positive influence to help straighten up the neighborhood and support its residents.

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Bryant Robertson
READI Chicago Supervisor, West Garfield Park

Bryant has been in West Garfield Park his whole life. He attended Manley High School and played on the basketball team. He completed a couple years in college, but unfortunately, he fell into the street life. While working at a factory, Nonviolence Chicago’s Frederick Seaton recruited Bryant to be part of the Nonviolence team building peace and bringing hope back to his Beloved Community. In 2018 Bryant became a READI Outreach Worker. He quickly became Lead Outreach Worker after a year. Two more years later and he was promoted to a READI Supervisor, overseeing the entire West Garfield Park team. Bryant continues to live in the neighborhood with his son and daughter, creating a safer community for them and us all.

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