Our Mission


The Center for Anti-Violence Education (CAE) develops and implements comprehensive violence prevention programs for individuals and organizations. Through a combination of education, physical empowerment, and leadership development, CAE provides underserved communities throughout the New York metropolitan area with skills to break cycles of violence.


Our Programs

CAE’s programs focus on women, girls and LGBTQ communities, with a special sensitivity to the needs of survivors. Participants build the skills and strength to heal from, prevent, and counter violence. We do this work to actively create a peaceful, just, and equitable world.

For over 41 years, our work has been driven by a strong set of core values.

  • Building the voices of women, LGBTQ communities, and youth is our foundation.
  • We are multi-cultural and anti-racist.
  • LGBTQ issues are central to our work.
  • We welcome transgender and gender-non-conforming individuals.
  • Our programs are uniquely sensitive to the needs of survivors.
  • Our youth programs are dynamic.
  • Our programs are economically accessible.
  • We promote the leadership of all participants.
  • Our programs impact people throughout New York City and nationwide.
  • We are a community.

You can learn more about our philosophy below!

Many generations of CAE students, teachers and staff.

Many generations of CAE students, teachers and staff.

Our Philosophy

Since our founding, CAE’s has been driven by a set of core principles that inform our work even as they evolve to meet the needs of the day. Following is a descriptions of CAE’s cornerstone values.

Building the voices of women, LGBTQ communities, and youth is our foundation. Founded in in 1974, Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts – which then became The Center for Anti-Violence Education in 1989 – grew our of the protest movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. We are a feminist organization with a commitment to building leadership and fostering activism.

We are multi-racial, anti-racist, and anti-heterosexist.Always guided by a commitment to addressing the different forms of oppression that lead to violence, CAE has long used trainings, discussions, and special programs to turn our anti-racist anti-heterosexist commitments into reality to create an organization that is truly accessible to people from diverse backgrounds and identities.

LGBTQ issues are central to our work. Lesbians and transpeople have always played central leadership roles at CAE, and we are committed to working in alliance with the broader LGBTQ community. Our programs are uniquely sensitive to the needs of different LGBTQ communities, and in the last few years we have expanded and deepened our work in LGBTQ communities throughout New York City – most recently through a new program to reduce violence in the lives of LGBTQ homeless youth.


Our Power, Action, Self-Defense Rainbow visually represents the full range of self-defense concepts from personal safety to community empowerment. Larger self-defense principles are in the centers of the stripes. In general, terms on the left side are strategies with an internal focus while those on the right are actions steps with a more community-based on external focus. By actively engaging these strategies, we can strengthen ourselves and build power to make changes in our lives and communities.


Our programs are uniquely sensitive to the needs of survivors. Our programs empower survivors to regain a sense of power and wellbeing, while breaking through the shame and isolation caused by violence. We stress the right of each individual to protect themselves if they are being disrespected, threatened, or abused. At the same time, we stress that if you are experiencing violence, it is not your fault.

Our youth programs are dynamic. Our programs for pre-teen and teen women and transyouth nurture their leadership development and provide opportunities to become teachers within CAE’s programs. We encourage youth to find their own voices and to realize their own individual potential and community connections.

Our programs are economically accessible. Sliding scale fees and free childcare reflect our bedrock commitment to women, teen women, girls, LGBTQ communities, and families of all socio-economic backgrounds. Workshops and courses for organizations are also offered on sliding scale fees, making our work in the community uniquely accessible as well.

We promote the leadership of all participants. We teach and learn from each other and create generations of new teachers and leaders. Over the years, we have trained more than 200 new self-defense teachers and have encouraged thousands of young people to actively participate in their communities.

Our programs impact people throughout New York City and nationwide. Over the past 38 years, we have offered violence prevention, self-defense, and empowerment workshops at schools, workplaces, shelters, rape crisis centers, domestic violence groups, youth agencies, after-school programs, and countless other community organizations. We are an invaluable resource to groups in every New York City neighborhood and to communities beyond our own city.

We are a community. From the youngest children to seniors, we honor each person and the rich tapestry and power of our collective strength. Together, we create a community that supports the healing and strengthening of our minds, bodies, and spirits. Our power derives from our diversity–across ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender expression, and socio-economic status–and we know that our organization is most vibrant and effective when we all work together.

These principles are reflected in the ways we teach and learn: with deep respect for ourselves and each other. This creates seriousness, compassion, strength, and integrity in all aspects of our lives.

See also:

Board of Directors

Board Members

Mariam Adams
Financial Advisor
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc.

Diane Arber
Head of Human Resources for Institutional Clients Group
Senior Human Resources Officer

Sheila Wellington
Former President of Catalyst and Clinical Professor at the NYU/Stern School of Business

Lynn Gernert
Lynn Gernert Architects

Marcus Wilson



David Russo
Senior Vice President
iCapital Network

Natasha M. Korgaonkar
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Assistant Counsel


Neeraja Ramjee
Knowledge Expert, Topic Manager - Smart Simplicity
The Boston Consulting Group


Matt Cluney
Senior Vice President®/ AAdvantage® Portfolio
Citi Cards





Our Staff


CAE is currently hiring!
Click here to learn more about the search for a Development Manager.

Loren Miller, Executive Director

Loren comes to CAE with over 25 years of planning, leading and advocating for social justice initiatives in the US and internationally. She started her career in human rights, working for a grassroots women’s cooperative in Senegal and a United Nations/Organization of American States human rights mission in Haiti. As a cultural Anthropology graduate student, Loren partnered with a women’s cooperative in Ecuador to study the rise of women’s social power, uncovering a simultaneous rise in domestic violence.  Loren’s New York City based work includes running a family resource center demonstration project for immigrant moms in Bushwick, Brooklyn, which she developed with a team through a community planning process.  More recently, Loren worked as Associate Vice President at United Way of New York City, focused on policy around poverty and social safety net issues, non-profit capacity building, and donor collaboratives for more integrated grantmaking.  Loren has a BA in French from Brown University and has completed coursework at the University of Pittsburgh for her PhD .

Jenny DeBower, Program Director

Jenny joined CAE in 2012. She has extensive experience developing and implementing programming for LGBTQ youth, having served as the Director of After-School Programs at the Hetrick-Martin Institute/ Harvey Milk High School for four years, and the Director of Youth and Family Services at the LGBT Community Center for three years. She brings a wealth of program experience to CAE. Jenny earned her MSW in Social Work from Columbia University.

Jewel Cadet, Program Manager, Youth & Community Empowerment

Jewel joined CAE in 2015. Jewel has her B.A from Bay Path University in Massachusetts where she was the President and Founder of The Black Student Association. She brings experience in engaging  intersectional curriculum development and innovative youth group facilitation (she was the Step Team Captain, Cheerleader Captain, an R.A., Student Government member, and Double Dutch Team Performer at her college). Jewel’s work experience has been with youth of all ages working as a Preschool Teacher at Traditional Educational Center and as a Youth Facilitator for  Hip Hop for Life, and the Children’s Aid Society. Jewel is a passionate social justice organizer for the rights of Women, Girls, Femmes and for the Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Community.

Izzy Finkelstein, Program Coordinator, Community & School Violence Prevention

Izzy joined CAE as a social work intern in the fall of 2016. Izzy is passionate about building community and has worked in social justice youth development at schools, summer camps and community centers. Most recently, she worked to implement restorative justice programs and social justice projects at the Bushwick Educational Campus with Make the Road New York. Before that, she was the Girls Leadership Instructor at the YWCA of the City of New York and a program leader at the Meadowood Neighborhood Center in Madison, WI. Izzy recently graduated with her MSW from Hunter College. A Park Slope, Brooklyn native, Izzy feels honored to join CAE’s long legacy of organizing to end violence, fight injustice and build community strength. When she is not at CAE, you can find her roaming Prospect Park with her chihuahua Bruse.

Annie Ellman, Co-Founder & Educational Advisor

Annie is a nationally recognized authority in the field of violence prevention. As CAE’s founder and former Executive Director for 30 years, Annie designed the organization’s curricula, trained over 200 violence prevention and self-defense instructors, guided CAE through 30 years of growth, and consulted with many organizations initiating anti-violence programming. Her vision, skill, and commitment have helped CAE have a positive and life-changing impact on thousands of children, teens, adults, and survivors. Annie received a Gloria Steinem Award from the Ms. Foundation and has been honored by the Stonewall Community Foundation.

Kyli Kleven, Data Entry Specialist

Kyli joined the CAE community as a Tai Chi student, then as a data entry clerk in October 2013, and now does a range of administrative and event support, photography, filming and video editing. She holds a BFA in Dance with a minor in Gender Studies from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to her work at CAE, she dances, choreographs, and films internationally in the realms of experimental dance and knitwear design.

BJ Watkins, Administrator

BJ Watkins joined CAE in July 10, 2013 BJ has 6 years of office management experience both in Brooklyn and Arizona. She has had a long commitment to volunteering for the WOW Cafe Theater: the longest continually run women’s theatre collective in the U.S. In addition, BJ is also a rotating Head Chef at the Pumpkin Hollow Spiritual Retreat Center. If you ever get a chance to try her brownies, they are a MUST!

Teaching Staff
Coming soon!

Our History

From Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA) to The Center for Anti-violence Education (CAE), from a volunteer organization with a visionary mission to a nationally-recognized leader in violence prevention, CAE has worked for 38 years to build our collective and individual strength to end violence and stand up for justice.

Since our founding in 1974, CAE has empowered women, LGBTQ individuals, young people, and survivors to build leadership skills, heal from past abuse, and break cycles of violence in their lives and communities. Over the years, we have reached over 56,000 people with our unique violence prevention programs. Here is a brief history of some of CAE’s major milestones and accomplishments.

Robin Lane, Annie Ellman & Nadia Telsey: public martial arts demo, 1978.

Robin Lane, Annie Ellman & Nadia Telsey: public martial arts demo, 1978.


  • Annie Ellman and Nadia Telsey found Brooklyn Women’s Martial Arts (BWMA)—a women’s dojo teaching karate and self-defense contributing to the new feminist anti-violence movement that fosters skills, strength, and community.
  • Before having a permanent location, BWMA sets up self-defense training and one-time workshops for women in rental spaces, Annie’s living room, and at street fairs and political rallies across NYC.
  • BWMA organizes support for Black women from the South, including Joanne Little, who were prosecuted for fighting back against their attackers.
Self-defense class, 1981

Self-defense class, 1981


  • With the Barnard College Office for Disabled Students BWMA develops a self-defense course and curriculum for people with disabilities.
  • BWMA is a crucial participant in the campaign to support two Latina lesbians who endured police brutality because of their skin color and sexual orientation.
  • BWMA’s Women of Color Group begins meeting. The group is a driving force within BWMA as we confront racism and internalized racism and build a stronger commitment to being an anti-racist and multi-cultural organization.

    Practicing blocks in our Children’s Empowerment Project

  • Children’s Empowerment Project is founded, for boys and girls ages 6–14.
  • We are the first organization in NYC to provide self-defense programs for transpeople.
  • In partnership with the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, we are first in the nation to provide self-defense for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Marching in support of Amadou Diallo

Marching in support of Amadou Diallo


  • Renamed The Center for Anti-violence Education (CAE), we create the national anti-violence curriculum Action for Safety, at the request of Girls, Inc. To date this curriculum has reached over 21,000 girls ages 9-11 across the US.
  • CAE develops a policy welcoming people of transgender experience to all programs, reflecting our commitment to reaching those most at risk, and to the growing trans liberation movement.
  • CAE’s Teen Initiative is founded. Starting with short-term self-defense courses, the Initiative soon includes the ongoing Power, Action, Change for Teens (PACT) program, and paid work for Peer Educators who go on to become leaders in the community.
  • CAE initiates our Survivors Prevention and Healing Project, which provides survivors access to free self-defense, karate, and tai chi training at CAE, and for clients and staff at rape crisis and domestic violence programs.
  • CAE’s teen women create and defend their Peace is not a Dream in Storage mural.
Practicing blocks in our Children’s Empowerment Project

Practicing blocks in our Children’s Empowerment Project

2000 – present:

  • Following 9/11, CAE provides free violence prevention workshops to teen and adult women and small grassroots organizations that serve Arab American, South Asian, and other immigrant communities who face racist backlash, scapegoating, and violence.
  • CAE Co-founder Annie Ellman steps down after 30 years as Executive Director, and later returns as Program Director.
  • During the Executive Director transition, CAE faces a severe financial crisis and almost closes down. There is a heroic response from the CAE community, who work tirelessly to save CAE.  CAE karate student and Board member Tracy Hobson  assumes Executive Director role; programs are reinstated, and new staff join CAE.

    Executive Director Tracy Hobson and Co-Founder Annie Ellman demonstrate self-defense techniques.

  • CAE partners with over 80 community organizations in a single program year to reach more people than ever before in our history.
  • CAE is recognized and receives funding for increased work in the LGBTQ community, especially homeless LGBTQ youth.


The common thread throughout our 38-year history is our dedication to actively creating a more just and equitable world through individual empowerment and community building – and our ability to meet the evolving needs of our communities.

We honor our history, our past participants, and everyone who has helped us become the leading organization we are today,  and we look toward to the future, as we continue to develop new programs, reach more people, and work for an end to violence.

Executive Director Tracy Hobson and Co-Founder Annie Ellman demonstrate self-defense techniques.

Executive Director Tracy Hobson and Co-Founder Annie Ellman demonstrate self-defense techniques.