Growing up in Chicago’s notorious Henry Horner Housing Projects, Mr. Tio 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.
Tio Hardiman, Executive Director for Violence Interrupters, NFP, and Former Democratic Candidate for Governor has dedicated his life and career to community organizing for peace and social change. In 1999, he joined CeaseFire, an award-winning public health model that has been scientifically proven to reduce shootings and killings. In 2004, Tio created the Violence Interrupters Initiative.
In 2004, under Tio’s direction, CeaseFire received additional funding from the State of Illinois to immediately expand from 5 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 2013, to a total of 426. This was the fewest number of homicides in the city since 1965.
Today, the Violence Interrupters Model has been replicated in 15 Chicago communities, 7 cities in Illinois, 15 cities nationwide, England, Iraq, and South Africa. In addition, more than 30 cities and 20 nations concerned about their own levels of shootings and killings have expressed interest in learning more about the Violence Interrupters. Tio is a frequent media contributor on the issues of Chicago violence and gang conflict. He has appeared on the local affiliate of every major television network, as well as CNN and the BBC. He has also been interviewed for numerous National Public Radio stories and has been covered by the New York Times Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Red Eye, Jet Magazine, The Chicago Sun Times, and numerous others. The Interrupters Documentary based on Tio’s work has won film festivals across the nation.
Tio Hardiman holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts and a Masters Degree in Inner City Studies from Northeastern University.