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Teny Gross

Chief Executive Officer

Teny Oded Gross was recruited to Chicago in 2015 to become the Founder of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago. He now serves as our Chief Executive Officer.


Until 2015, Teny was the Executive Director of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence, RI—a pioneering organization that teaches Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s principles and practices of Nonviolence locally, nationally, and internationally. 


Thirty years of street outreach and mediating conflicts among sworn enemies led him to this work here in Chicago, a city in desperate need of reconciliation and peace in some of its most under-resourced and therefore, dangerous neighborhoods.


At the same time Teny was launching Nonviolence Chicago, he led efforts to build a comprehensive violence reduction strategy for the entire city—the Civilian Architecture. This group includes 15 neighborhood organizations, three major nonprofits, and City of Chicago representatives who now coordinate daily to respond to shootings and offer services that guide people into a safer, more productive life.


Nonviolence Chicago, one of the 15 organizations, continues to adhere to Kingian principles, encouraging staff and participants to combat Chicago’s gun violence with Nonviolence. Nonviolence Chicago has grown to 80 staff working in three neighborhoods. They have brokered longstanding peace agreements among rival gangs and provided support services to countless victims.


Though Teny is a key voice in the city’s overall strategy, he remains in direct contact with participants who need his help, be it with a phone bill, a ride home, or advice. He continues to respond to shootings in the overnight hours.


Teny is the recipient of the 2015 Touro Synagogue Foundation Alexander George Teitz Award for Religious Freedom and Tolerance, as well as the Maun Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Muslim American Dawah Center of Rhode Island.


Providence’s Nonviolence Streetworkers Program is widely recognized for stemming gang violence.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors selected the Institute’s work as “best practice” in combating gang violence, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, R.I. selected it as “Outstanding Philanthropic Organization for 2009.”  The Institute received Citizens Bank/NBC 10’s first “Champion in Action” award for nonviolence, Met-Life Foundation’s Community Police Partnership award for “Gang Prevention and Youth Safety,” R.I. Minority Police Association Community Service award, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Holiday Commission Recognition award.  

Teny is the recipient of an Institute of Global Leadership Alumni Award from Tufts University where he earned his B.F.A.  Teny has a M.T.S. degree from Harvard and a fellowship in Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management from Harvard Business School.  Earlier in his career, Teny was a Program Coordinator for the Ella J. Baker House Youth Focused Community Initiative, a participant in the National Ten-Point Coalition, and a Senior Streetworker for the City of Boston.  He is also a veteran of the Israeli Defense Force and later volunteered with three different groups for peace between Israel and Palestine—often at considerable risk to his own safety.     


Teny has presented at University of Chicago, Brown, Harvard, Yale, Tufts, Boston University, Clark, Providence College, as well as the National Institute of Justice, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Department of Justice, The White House, as well as abroad on the topics of violence reduction, managing outreach teams, working with law enforcement, and Nonviolence.


Teny serves as an advisor to The National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College and has advised many cities in the US and abroad.

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