Katie has been involved in rape and violence prevention since 2002 when she began volunteering at Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault as a crisis counselor. She came to IMPACT in 2007 when she took the Core Program, and soon thereafter she became the volunteer coordinator. Her passion for IMPACT led her to class assist and participate in several advanced classes. In 2010 she became the IMPACT Board Treasurer. She has been teaching workshops since 2013, became an IMPACT instructor in 2016, and an IMPACT: Ability Instructor in 2017.
Katie received her master of business administration from DePaul University and is a certified public account. She currently works as Deputy Executive Director at Glenview Park District.
“Every woman has a right to feel safe within her own body; and I look forward to helping women and girls learn to use their physical and spiritual power to defend themselves successfully.” – Katie
Margaret has been an IMPACT instructor since 1992, teaching all programs, and is also an Instructor Trainer. She holds a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Nexus Family Healing, a child and family services agency, where she is the VP of Strategy. Her social work career has focused on the treatment of emotionally and behaviorally disturbed children and youth for the past 30 years. She co-developed the full IMPACT course for teen girls.
“To me IMPACT courses have always been about freedom to live in the world in a more complete and visible way. Providing this experience to women is a revolutionary act – revolution of old restrictive attitudes and beliefs in favor of greater freedom.” – Margaret
Martha has been teaching IMPACT since 1988; in 2017 she also became an IMPACT:Ability Instructor. She is an Instructor and Workshop Leader Trainer, and the Administrative Team Co-Leader.
Martha received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Iowa and is Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Northeastern Illinois University. She holds a fifth-degree black belt in Seido karate. She has published several articles on self-defense, including “Empowering Self-Defense," "The Power of NO” and “Kicking Down the Barriers: Self-Defense and Social Change.” Hers and Mike Armato's book Investigating Gender: Developing a Feminist Sociological Imagination also addresses the importance of self-defense training in the chapter "Interpersonal Violence."
"My belief that ordinary women can do extraordinary things is continually affirmed in teaching IMPACT. We create an opportunity for women to recognize the power, fighting spirit, and love of life they already have." – Martha
Rachel began volunteering with IMPACT Chicago in 2014 and became an instructor a few years later, and has been involved in violence prevention, healthy relationship education, and sexual assault policy reform since 2008. With a background in LGBTQ inclusion trainings and health research, Rachel is particularly excited about working on self-defense programming for all genders. Rachel holds a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, has trained in Aikido, and played rugby for several years.
"IMPACT provides a chance to challenge limits imposed on us in our society, and replace them with choices and confidence. I love teaching IMPACT because it's uplifting to work with individuals who seek out that opportunity and embrace that freedom." - Rachel
Ready to join the team? Here's how to become our newest Suited Instructor!
Retired Lead Instructors
Dianne (Dee) Constanzo (First certified Lead Instructor)
AC is the newest member of the IMPACT Instructor team. He is a certified Rape Prevention and Self Defense Instructor with the American Women’s Self Defense Association, and has worked internationally with Peak Potentials and Success Resources, assisting and leading motivational camps that incorporate martial arts and non-verbal tactics to de-escalate and/or end conflicts without compromising one’s safety or integrity of self (2013-present). He is an Elite-level personal trainer with Chicago Athletic Clubs, a professional actor, and one of the founding members of Not In Our House: Chicago, an organization created to combat sexual harassment and unbecoming conduct within the Chicago theatre community (2015-present).
"In addition to preventing incidents of sexual assault, IMPACT empowers women, allowing them to establish firm boundaries and belief in themselves. Empowered women pave for the way for future empowered women, creating a more female-friendly society, work force, etc." - AC
Ben got his start in security bouncing for 9 years at bars and clubs in Madison, WI then Chicago. He was a wrestler for 12 years in folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco Roman. He also studied Jiu-Jitsu and other martial arts. He started with IMPACT Chicago in 2004. After talking with women in his family, he decided IMPACT was the thing to do. He became an IMPACT:Ability Instructor in 2017. Ben is also a tattoo artist.
"I like IMPACT because we teach women how to defend themselves. What we teach is not frilly – the idea isn't to look good, the idea is for them to walk away safely." – Ben
Rob has been an IMPACT instructor since January 1999 and is also an Instructor Trainer. He became an IMPACT:Ability Instructor in 2017. After moving to Chicago in 1995, he became involved in rape-prevention training as well as awareness, outreach, and education, working with Rape Victim Advocates and student groups on college campuses. He really enjoys working with and teaching women's self-defense, particularly in the areas of violence demystification and boundary setting. These two areas are often the more misunderstood and least publicized part of self-defense, as well as being more transferable to other life situations.
Dominic (in training)
Dominic became aware of IMPACT Chicago in August 2018 when he attended a Core Program graduation. After watching the students and instructors triumph that day, he became passionate about finding a way he also could help (those identifying as) women walk more safely in the world. The IMPACT principle “Men can be, and are, allies,” stuck with him and becoming a suited instructor seemed an ideal way for him to join the fight. Dominic is an experienced armed, and unarmed, stage combatant, as well as a writer and professional actor.
Joe (in training)
Joe was introduced to IMPACT in summer of 2018 and is proud to be part of this organization. The phrase "One day 'no' will be enough, but until then there's IMPACT" resonated with him so much he was moved to join the team. Joe has been motivated to work with IMPACT as a way to stand up for the rights and humanity of people targeted because of their gender, race, sexual orientation, immigration status, etc. He is also a voice actor and can be heard in many commercials, apps, toys, and video games.
"I wanted the opportunity to make real change in an idea I believe in. IMPACT has presented me with an opportunity to immerse myself fully in a cause I think is worth fighting for." - Joe
*Retired Suited Instructors
*Still Active in IMPACT Chicago
Bruce Brio (Board of Directors)*
Joe Connelly (Founder, Chicago Model Mugging)
Mark Nessel (Instructor Trainer)*
Deb is a flight attendant for American Airlines and a licensed clinical social worker. She enjoys travel & helping others both on the ground and in the air. Other interests: scuba diving, martial arts, and running crazy relay races with other like-minded people (all hobbies she was able to fully embrace due to her IMPACT experience). She is a Class Assistant and later joined the board and has since been trained as a "What is IMPACT" facilitator as well as a 60 and 90 minute workshop facilitator. Recently Deb has been trained as an IMPACT:Ability instructor and looks forward to adding this important program that teaches empowerment self-defense to individuals with disabilities to IMPACT Chicago's offerings.
"I was so (literally) impacted by my experience of my first IMPACT class in 2011 that I quickly dove in to volunteering as a class assistant and I haven't looked back." - Deb
Tara's workshop leader bio is in the works.
Amy (in training)
Amy took her first class with IMPACT Chicago in 2017, and began volunteering as a Class Assistant and a "What is IMPACT" facilitator shortly thereafter. She currently serves on the Admin Team as the Registration and Workshop Coordinator. A graduate of Northwestern University's School of Speech (and a proud alumnus of NU's fencing team), she has been active in Chicago's theater and stage combat community for over 20 years, including 15 years as an ensemble member with Babes With Blades Theatre Company. She is the Assistant Director of Education at PDH Academy, and is also studying aerial arts.
"I'm passionate about combining the voice and the body to connect with personal power, and IMPACT provides one of the best thought-out, no-nonsense, direct ways of doing so that I’ve ever encountered." - Amy
Lisa (in training)
Lisa has been involved with IMPACT Chicago since the early 90s in a variety of capacities including as a class assistant, mat mover, fund drive chair, and "What is IMPACT" facilitator. She currently co-leads IMPACT’s Admin Team and serves on the Board of Directors. In her free time, she works as a professor at Dominican University.
“Taking an empowerment-based self-defense course truly gave me a sense of freedom that positively shaped my life. It is a privilege to see IMPACT participants tap into their power and strength through this work. And… I love to hear the big “Yes” at the end of so many of our programs.” - Lisa
Priya (in training)
Priya took IMPACT Chicago's Core Program in 2017. She joined the organization as a Class Assistant in 2018 and soon after began training as a workshop leader. Priya is an editor at the University of Chicago Press, where she acquires books in history, anthropology, and gender & sexuality studies. She is a former professional dancer and is a lifelong student of sports and the arts, most recently swimming and piano.
“There is nothing that gives me more optimism about the global struggle against gender-based violence than seeing IMPACT students gain confidence in their bodies and voices. Participating in IMPACT is about individual transformation but is also a social affirmation. I am honored to be a part of a community that is united by the belief that everyone is worth fighting for.” - Priya