Tio Hardiman, director for CeaseFire Illinois and creator of the Violence Interrupter Initiative, has dedicated his life and career to community organizing for peace and social change. In 1999, Mr. Hardiman joined CeaseFire, an award-winning public health model that has been scientifically proven to reduce shootings and killings.
In 2008, under Tio’s direction, CeaseFire received additional funding from the State of Illinois to immediately expand from five to 15 communities and from 20 to 130 outreach workers and violence interrupters. The violence interrupters are a specialty unit of violence intervention experts that work to mediate conflict on the “front-end.” Their reputation and connections in the community provide them access to leaders and influential decision makers in street organizations. As testament to the success of this program overall, homicides declined in Chicago by 25 percent in 2010, to a total of 436. This was the fewest number of homicides in the city since 1965.
Growing up in Chicago’s notorious Henry Horner Housing Projects, Mr. Hardiman witnessed firsthand the devastating affect the violence epidemic has on a community. From that early exposure, he committed himself to ending violence in Chicago. Before joining CeaseFire, Mr. Hardiman organized more than 100 block clubs to strategize community plans for public safety on behalf of the Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety and held leadership positions for Bethel New Life and Chicago’s CAPS Program. He holds a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Northeastern University and a master's degree in inner city studies.