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 and of trying to build peace between Palestinians and Israelis, Teny began his career in ending violence as a senior street worker for the city of Boston. He was later recruited for the position of CEO at the Nonviolence Institute in Providence, RI. 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

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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Jimi has spent his entire professional career of over 20 years dedicated to youth, families and communities in Chicago.  He has a Bachelors Degree in African American Studies and a Masters Degree in Public Administration.  Jimi began his career with the Department of Children and Family Services as a Case Manager.  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 Programs
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Tara Dabney has a BA in Psychology and Religion from Transylvania University. She brings over 18 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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Ashley Perkins
Nonviolence Training Coordinator and Lead Trainer

Ashley has a BA from Trinity Christian College and is currently completing her MA from DeVry University. She  has worked with high risk populations around training and social emotional learning for the past five years. She is a talented trainer who enjoys working with a variety of types of learners.


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 site

Bertha has lived in the Austin area over 20 years. She has a degree in Nursing and certifications in Case Management and Trauma Training. Bertha joined the Institute for Nonviolence as a victim advocate after her son, Maurice, was shot and killed in Austin on June 24, 2017. Bertha served as Chairman of the Gun Violence Task Force and worked on the Funeral Home Task Force under Commissioner Richard Boykin. Bertha serves as an ambassador of the Neighborhood Policing Initiative program of the 25th district.  Bertha continues to work on violence prevention through community- based and law enforcement efforts as well.

Bertha Purnell
Community Organizer

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 (PLAN) 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 B.S. and M.B.A. 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
Supervisor for Case Management
Samuel Castro
Outreach Program Manager

Samuel has been doing outreach work for over ten years with a variety of organizations and was an outreach worker with the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago prior to being promoted to his current position of Supervisor. As Supervisor of the READI initiative, he has led his team to exceed the goals set for engagement of people in the program. He 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 around. He is close to his children and family. He is truly an example of growth and change.

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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.