A World Without Violence

Cure Violence is guided by clear understandings that violence is a health issue, that individuals and communities can change for the better, that community partners and strategic partnerships are keys to success, and that rigorous, scientific, professional ways of working are essential for effectiveness.

Our Mission: To reduce violence globally using disease control and behavior change methods.

Cure Violence Vision

Violence behaves like a contagious problem. It is transmitted through exposure, acquired through contagious brain mechanisms and social processes, and can be effectively treated and prevented using health methods. To date, the health sector and health professionals have been highly underutilized for the prevention, treatment, and control of violence. Now is the time to mobilize our nation’s healthcare and public health systems and methods to work with communities and other sectors to stop this epidemic.

Cure Violence History

Cure Violence was founded by Gary Slutkin, M.D., former head of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Intervention Development Unit and Professor of Epidemiology and International Health at the University of Illinois/Chicago School of Public Health. Cure Violence launched in West Garfield Park, one of the most violent communities in Chicago, and was quick to produce results, reducing shootings by 67% in its first year. From 2000-2008, Cure Violence focused its activities in the United States, quickly expanding to Baltimore, New York, New Orleans, Oakland, Loiza, Puerto Rico and other sites. In 2008, Cure Violence began its first international adaptation and replication of the methodology in Basra and Sadr City, Iraq.  Since then, international programs have been added in Canada (Halifax and Alberta), Colombia (Cali), El Salvador (San Salvador and San Pedro Mazawal), Honduras (San Pedro Sula), Jamaica (St. Catherine North and St. James), Kenya (Nairobi and Rift valley), Mexico (Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City), South Africa (Hanover Park), Syria (western and northern), Trinidad & Tobago (Port of Spain) and United Kingdom (London).  Cure Violence has also provided training in violence prevention techniques to representatives from dozens of other countries.

Several Cure Violence program sites have been externally evaluated, demonstrating strong results in multiple sites.  In June 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. referenced Cure Violence as  a “rational, data-driven, evidence-based, and smart approach to crime.” The Economist termed the Cure Violence method “the approach that will come to prominence.”

A Few of Our Partners

Cure Violence Global Staff

Violence Interrupters, Outreach Workers, Hospital Responders, Supervisors from around the world

Cure Violence is centered on the work at the community level, implementing the health approach to prevent violence.  As an organization, we are guided by the work in the community.  Below are a few pictures of Cure Violence teams:

Marcus McAllister — International Trainer

Marcus McAllister joined CeaseFire Illinois (the program delivery partner for Cure Violence in Illinois) as a Violence Interrupter, and after serving in the position of Violence Interrupter was promoted to Outreach Worker. Shortly thereafter, Marcus was promoted to Program Manager where he managed two sites with a combined staff of 14 people. After successfully managing these sites, Marcus was asked to interview for a position as one of only three Cure Violence national trainers to help hire, train and set up replication Cure Violence sites throughout the world. Today Marcus serves in that capacity and oversees sites in NY, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Trinidad.

Marcus was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. As a child, he found himself shuttling between Chicago and Los Angeles, shifting between parents. Marcus was introduced to the gang & drug culture as a result of living in two cities with high rates of violence in America. At the age of 18 Marcus decided to return to Illinois to finish his last year of high school. Unfortunately, Marcus’s mother never got to see him graduate because at the age of 18, Marcus found himself in a federal court room in Chicago fighting a drug & gang conspiracy charge.  He was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in a federal prison.  After serving 9 years of his ten year sentence, he was released in December, 1998. After release, he had difficulty finding permanent employment, wound up working odd jobs and narrowly avoided falling back to life on the street.

In 2005, Marcus was approached by CeaseFire Illinois (now known as Cure Violence) where his street background was considered an asset and his status as an ex-offender could actually be used to change lives for the good.  He became a violence interrupter, a highly-trained community health worker, whose job was to stop shootings and killings using a public health behavior change approach.  Since Joining Ceasefire, Marcus has devoted his life to helping others change their lives, just as CeaseFire helped him to finally turn his own life around.

Marcus has excelled in his role as a national trainer for Cure Violence, and was selected to receive the WARRIOR award from the King of Kings Foundation in New York City in June, 2015.  He was also awarded a New York State Assembly proclamation in recognition of his dedication and commitment to stopping violence in New York City, across the US and globally.

Marcus and his wife of 17 years live in the Chicago suburbs.  They are parents of a 14 year old daughter and a 10 year old son.  Marcus travels regularly and is a frequent guest speaker/presenter on the contagion of violence at events across the U.S.

Michael “Mikey” Davis — International Trainer

Michael “Lil Mikey” Davis was brought up on the south side of Chicago in the Auburn Gresham and Englewood communities, the oldest of 3 siblings. When Mikey was an infant, his father incarcerated with a 20 year prison sentence. With his mother going through drug issues, Mikey worked hard trying to be a big brother and a provider at such a young age. Mikey was introduced to the streets at a very young age, becoming active in street activity when he was 11 years of age. At 15 years of age Mikey was incarcerated for armed robbery and sentenced to a term of 6 years.

Upon reentering society at 18 years of age, Mikey made the decision that he wanted to be a better role model for his siblings and give back to the communities he had taken from any way he could. Mikey began volunteering with the organizations Safety Networks, Ceasefire, and Joakim Noah’s Noah’s Ark Foundation, while struggling to find a employment and struggling to not just give up.  Mikey stayed consistent and positive with the help of a great support system and a phenomenal mentor, continuing to push until something had come about. As times got better, Mikey decided to use his past as a guide in helping the youth of today see hope by being able to relate in age and everyday life which made a greater impact in his efforts.

Today Mikey works as a National and International Program specialist and Trainer for Cure Violence. Mikey now trains other credible messengers in cities around the world and is the youngest employed worker of the Cure Violence organization campaigning to stop the shootings and killings and mediating conflicts

Before coming to Cure Violence, Mikey was a BAM Counselor for The Becoming A Man program which teaches young men rites of passage and core values such as integrity, accountability, positive anger expression and respect for womanhood. Mikey became a supervisor for BAM over 7 elementary and high schools in Chicago before making the transition to his current role with Cure Violence. Working with Joakim Noah has been a dream come true for not only the youth of Chicago but for Mikey as well. The two of them set an example of compassion and care, conducting peace tournaments throughout the city bringing guys from different groups and neighborhoods together. Mikey lives every day of life believing and knowing “today is what you make it”. Great things have come his way as he sets out to help others that come from similar upbringings see that there is hope and anything is possible.

Jarmain “Juice” Merritt — International Trainer

As a young child, Jarmain “Juice” Merritt moved from a small town to bustling Chicago. Despite the love and attentive care of his parents, Jarmain’s immediate environment shaped his early goals. Seeing others, including his older brothers, gain status and wealth through their actions led Jarmain to strive for the kind of influence and power that he saw could come from embracing risk and violence. Jarmain’s involvement with the criminal justice system began with his first arrest at age twelve. Between twelve and eighteen, Jarmain was in and out of juvenile detention so frequently that it began to seem like a revolving door between incarceration and freedom. During this period, Jarmain’s exposure to violence only increased.

While serving 19 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Jarmain was introduced to a program that promoted a public health approach to nonviolence by a respected friend, Cobe Williams. Cobe had gotten involved with CeaseFire, which focuses on reducing gun violence through intervention and community mobilization. At the time, Cobe was an Outreach Worker with CeaseFire, and he started sending information about the program to Jarmain. Jarmain initially reacted with skepticism. He couldn’t reconcile the criminal goals he still had – which were all he knew – with Cobe’s talk of nonviolence and positive community impact. Gradually, Jarmain’s perspective changed as he saw how the program was changing his friend’s life, and as the logic of the public health approach – when led by credible messengers – resonated with his own thinking. Jarmain could see Cobe applying the same intensity Cobe had previously applied in a negative way to something that now had a positive effect on his community and in Cobe’s own life. Jarmain knew from his own experience that people are affected by their proximity to violence. He began to get involved with CeaseFire himself, and he began to share what he was learning with others throughout his community.

Jarmain started with Cure Violence first as a volunteer, then expanded his responsibilities as a consultant, and was ultimately asked to join the organization as a technical assistant. His role expanded, and Jarmain became a Program Coordinator. Building on his success in Chicago, Jarmain now travels extensively with Cure Violence, teaching others how to implement the Cure Violence model. Jarmain trains a broad range of people, from those with life experiences similar to his own to those who have no firsthand experience with. Jarmain and others on the Cure Violence team conduct assessments, go to high violence areas, and make recommendations on what can be done to stop the spread of violence. Jarmain has led programs and taught classes across the United States, training more than one hundred Program Managers, Directors, Outreach Workers, Community-Based Organizations and Violence Interrupters. The scope of his work is currently expanding internationally, with projects underway in Trinidad and Tobago and the Belize.

Jarmain brings his relentless passion to his work, and now applies the leadership and influencing skills he developed over the past three decades to helping others see new possibilities for themselves and their communities. Grateful to have the opportunity to pass on what he’s learned from his own life experiences, Jarmain uses his unique ability to understand the needs of others to connect with program participants in an authentic and powerful way.
Deeply committed to youth, Jarmain aspires to see violence reduction programs paired with valuable skills-based and entrepreneurial training programs so people can see a path out of violence that provides real opportunity for personal and community success.

Jarmain spends his free time reconnecting with family, including his kids and his grandchildren. He also enjoys playing chess with friends.

Lori Toscano — Director of US Programs

Lori Toscano has been working in the field of violence prevention for almost 20 years. She currently serves as Executive Director of U.S. Programs for Cure Violence, a top 20 global NGO where she oversees the implementation of the award-winning health approach to violence prevention at over 50 US program sites in 25 US cities including New York, Baltimore, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio and Kansas City.

Prior to joining Cure Violence, she directed the Safe Streets Baltimore program for the Baltimore City Health Department’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention. Baltimore’s Safe Streets program has been nationally recognized for its success in reducing and preventing violence in four of Baltimore’s highest risk neighborhoods.

Lori has evaluated and assisted other global cities interested in adapting the Cure Violence health approach to violence prevention, including Recife and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. She is frequently invited to present at conferences related to public health, juvenile justice and criminal justice including Cities United, Futures Without Violence, Johns Hopkins University, US Department of State, Inter-American Development Bank and the US Department of Justice. She holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Baltimore

Frank Sanchez — International Program Specialist

Frankie Sanchez is an international trainer at Cure Violence Global, responsible for building and guiding programs throughout Latin America including in Mexico, Honduras Argentina, and El Salvador and in partnership with organization such as Save The Children, USAID, the World Bank and multiple other international organizations.  On weekends, Frankie volunteers to help resolve conflicts, prevent escalations and reduce shootings, working alongside Chicago-based community groups in Little Village and other neighborhoods whenever he can offer additional help. Frankie grew up sleeping in alleys in the Little Village neighborhood, essentially without parents. Frankie knew nothing but a tough street life, and was involved with street life actively and became a leader until he was arrested and convicted at approximately 15 years old and imprisoned for 25 years. Frankie has been one of the strongest of strong go-to people and a very highly effective trainer in how to stop shootings and help people in the most difficult circumstances.

Guadalupe Cruz — International Coordinator

Guadalupe Cruz is the Director of Training for Latin and Central America. She has been a key member of the Cure Violence team since 2009. She started as a CeaseFire Violence Interrupter. In 2011, she was promoted to supervisor of all Latino Violence Interrupters in Chicago. In March 2014, her role expanded to incorporate training responsibilities in Latin and Central America. She is responsible for overseeing implementation of the Cure Violence model in South Africa, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada. In this capacity, she provides training and technical support to all the local partner organizations implementing the Cure Violence model in these countries. Prior to joining Cure Violence, Ms. Cruz spent 20 years working with high-risk youth in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods.

Charlie Ransford — Director of Science and Policy

Charlie Ransford is the Director of Science and Policy, where has is responsible for advancing the theoretical basis for the Cure Violence Health Approach and building and leading a national effort to create a health sector framework around violence prevention.  Mr. Ransford is additionally centrally involved in data and evaluation, strategic planning, communications, and dissemination of the model nationally and globally – including authoring several papers on the Cure Violence health approach. Mr. Ransford is a graduate (MPP) of the Harris School for Public Policy at the University of Chicago,and has previously worked for the US Department of Justice.

Karen Volker — Director of Strategic and International Partnerships

Karen Volker is the Director for Strategic and International Partnerships at Cure Violence, an international NGO that uses a health approach to interrupt and stop the spread of violence. Karen plays a key role on strategic planning, developing strategic partnerships, and pursuing opportunities to expand the Cure Violence global footprint, with emphasis on expanding Cure Violence’s work in the Middle East. Karen leads Cure Violence’s work in Syria, including a new project that includes both top-down and bottom-up approach to preventing violence in Syria. Prior to joining Cure Violence in January 2012, Ms. Volker spent over 25 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, including as Director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a $500 million program that supports civil society organizations in the Middle East and North Africa, leading up to and during the Arab Spring. Ms. Volker has devoted her professional life to promoting pluralism, peace, and democracy, defending human rights, and preventing violence. As Director of Strategic and International Partnerships, Ms. Volker interacts with donors, policy-makers, and other NGOs on behalf of Cure Violence and represents Cure Violence at national and international events and meetings.

Hialy Gutierrez — Director of Research and Evaluation

Hialy Gutierrez joined Cure Violence in November of 2016, and serves as the Director of Research and Evaluation. She brings over a decade of experience conducting scientific research across nonprofit and for-profit settings. Prior to Cure Violence, Hialy was a research consultant and project manager for Ibis Reproductive Health, conducting and managing clinical and social science research aimed at improving women’s health. She also served as a consultant for the World Health Organization’s Global Burden of Disease project, Global Influenza Programme, and the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. During her graduate training, Hialy served as a researcher for Columbia University’s Department of Population and Family Health, analyzing health systems and health behavior in Tanzania. Under Columbia University’s ICAP Next Generation Program, Hialy provided research support for the LINK4HEALTH randomized controlled trial evaluating an innovative intervention strategy on the linkage and retention of HIV-positive persons to care in Swaziland. Prior to her public health career, Hialy served as a health economics outcomes research and market analyst for pharmaceutical and medical device companies.

As Director of Research and Evaluation, Hialy oversees Cure Violence’s program monitoring and evaluation activities and is responsible for advancing Cure Violence’s implementation science research agenda to build out the evidence base for health-centered violence prevention and intervention praxis. Hialy holds a BS in Engineering from Stanford University and an MPH with a focus on population health in crisis/complex settings from Columbia University.

Daria Zvetina — Chief of Staff

Daria Zvetina joined the Cure Violence staff in August, 2015 as Director of Grants. Daria is a seasoned grant development professional with more than 20 years experience providing human services program design and implementation, government and foundation proposal development, research, writing, editing and technical assistance.

Brent Decker — Chief Program Officer

  1. Brent Decker, MPH, MSW, is the Chief Program Officer at Cure Violence. Mr. Decker began at Cure Violence in 2003 and has worked with a wide range of U.S. and international partners to adapt, design, and provide ongoing technical assistance on the implementation of the Cure Violence health-based violence prevention model. In his role of Chief Program Officer he is responsible for overseeing all local, national, and international program implementation and model replication efforts, ensuring that the Cure Violence Technical Assistance system is coordinated, uniform, well planned, and aligned to meet the outcomes of the Cure Violence strategic plan; oversight and curation of training for the entire Cure Violence ecosystem; and, collaboratively setting and steering the strategic direction of the organization. In coordination with the CEO and Finance team, he is responsible for the refinement and management of the tracking system for grants and contracts, compliance with university tracking systems, and ensuring that grant and contract goals and deliverables are met and expenses are within budget. Mr. Decker holds a Masters of Public Health in International Public Health and Development and a Masters of Social Work in clinical social work from Tulane University.  Before joining Cure Violence, Mr. Decker worked on a number of social justice and community health projects in Latin America.

Cameron Safarloo — Chief Operating Officer

Cameron Safarloo, MBA, is the Chief Operating Officer at Cure Violence. Mr. Safarloo’s responsibilities include leading day-to-day finances and operations at Cure Violence. Mr. Safarloo supervises all program and business operations including fundraising, finance and administration. Mr. Safarloo has 18 years of experience in leadership roles. Prior to joining Cure Violence in 2015, Mr. Safarloo served as Senior Vice President of Operations and Programs at Gatepath, a California-based non-profit specializing in behavioral health, family resources and vocational training. Previously, he led a health and medical clinical network offering primary and sub-specialty care services and worked for global engineering and technology businesses managing their operations and e-business sectors. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston and an MBA from Northwestern Kellogg Graduate School of Business.

Gary Slutkin, MD — Founder and CEO

Gary Slutkin, MD

Founder and CEO, Cure Violence

Professor, Epidemiology and Global Health, UIC School of Public Health

Formerly, Chief, Intervention Development, World Health Organization

 

Dr. Gary Slutkin is a physician and epidemiologist formerly of the World Health Organization, the Founder and CEO of Cure Violence, and an innovator in health, behavior change, and data based approaches to local and global problems. Cure Violence is listed No. 9 among the top 500 NGOs in the World by The NGO Advisor, and 1st among NGOs devoted to reducing violence.

Dr. Slutkin received his M.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, and completed his internship, residency, and infectious disease training at UCSF and San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), where he was also the Chief Resident in Medicine. Following a year in Africa he returned to SFGH for infectious disease training, and was then asked to run the Tuberculosis Program for the City of San Francisco at a time when S.F. had the highest rate of tuberculosis in the country. Here he innovated with the use of local health workers, and this epidemic was reversed within 3 years.

Dr. Slutkin then moved to Somalia to work on TB and cholera epidemics full time and lived in Somalia for 3 years, guiding the work of TB control in 40 refugee camps consisting of 1 million refugees, and then co-guided the response to a devastating national cholera epidemic.

Dr. Slutkin was then recruited in 1987 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to join the newly forming WHO Global Program on AIDS where he worked in over 25 countries. He was assigned to lead the efforts to start the national AIDS programs with the 13 countries in the epicenter of the epidemic in central and East Africa. Dr. Slutkin also led World Health Organization’s efforts to reverse the AIDS epidemic in Uganda, and Uganda became the first country, and for over 10 years the only country, to successfully reverse its AIDS epidemic. He was then appointed Director of Intervention Development for WHO at Global Headquarters/Geneva where he formed and led a team responsible for guiding countries around the world in behavior change methods.

After 10 years abroad, Dr. Slutkin returned home to the U.S. and shifted his focus to violence, seeing it as an epidemic process since the charts, maps and graphs as well as other epidemiologic characteristics appeared to define it in that way. He is credited with having fully revealed the scientific and practical links for seeing and treating violence more as a standard health epidemic. In the year 2000 he founded Cure Violence which has achieved 40 – 70% drops in violence – and sometimes to 90-100% using these methods. The approach is summarized in the 2013 Institute of Medicine Report, “The Contagion of Violence”, and in his article in that volume entitle “Violence is a Contagious Disease”. Seeing and treating violence as a health problem changes our view of people as well as the approach to the problem.

Cure Violence works in over 100 communities in 25 U.S. cities and 15 countries with the focus abroad in Latin America and the Middle East. There have been multiple independent evaluations of the work, and several heavily impacted communities have gone to zero shootings or killings for 1 to 3 years with this approach.

New initiatives for 2019 include expanding the national effort to design more complete systems for community health and safety, and an exploration of health-based intersections with the justice reform movement – in language, policy, systems and metrics. The international work is focused on reducing the stresses to immigration through violence reduction in Latin America, and a new approach to conflict zones focusing on the Middle East in particular Syria, Israel and the West Bank.

Dr. Slutkin’s work has been featured as the NY Times Sunday Magazine Cover Story, “Blocking The Transmission of Violence”, the award winning documentary film, “The Interrupters”, and in over a dozen books, most recently in Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn’s book, “A Path Appears”. He also has a very highly acclaimed TED Talk. He has appeared on The PBS News Hour, CNN, 60 Minutes, and is quoted regularly in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist, and other leading publications. National and international awards include the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Public Safety, The Order of Lincoln Award, and the UNICEF Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Dr. Slutkin speaks regularly at local, national and global forums including The World Bank, Institute of Medicine, The World Economic Forum, and the UN. He is a Global Ashoka fellow, and is a senior advisor to the World Health Organization.

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