Ricardo “Cobe” Williams is the leader of Interrupt The Violence. He is an award-winning peacekeeper, community activist, and public speaker, who has provided training for 52 sites in 23 cities in the United States and dozens more throughout the globe over the past decade. Mr. Williams has trained over one thousand violence interrupters worldwide in mediation and conflict resolution strategies. He also developed the peace tournament model alongside NBA players in Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans using basketball to reduce violence.
Mr. Williams began his career as a violence interrupter with CeaseFire Illinois in Englewood on Chicago’s south side. His work was chronicled in the award-winning film “The Interrupters” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and aired on PBS’ FRONTLINE in January, 2012 as a two-hour special.
Mr. Williams went on to become Deputy Director of Cure Violence (CeaseFire’s parent organization) overseeing their national and international work. He worked as the Community Outreach Director for Noah’s Arc Foundation helping NBA star Joakim Noah create art workshops, sports tournaments, and the renowned “Rock Your Drop” Campaign in Chicago, Baltimore, New York, and Memphis.
Internationally, Mr. Williams has adapted a violence prevention model to different environments. From shantytowns in Trinidad and Tobago, Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica to interventions for indigenous tribes in Halifax, Nova Scotia to counterextremist efforts in Nigeria, Africa.
Mr. Williams received the Hero Award from world famous psychologist Phillip Zimbardo, the United Nations Peace Award, and recognition from former Illinois governor Pat Quinn, the Mayor of Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University. He has appeared on Vice, People Magazine, the Guardian, and numerous other media outlets.
As a motivational speaker, presenter, and trainer, Mr. Williams is in high demand. His TED Talk received a standing ovation and has been viewed hundreds of times. He has been a keynote at the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations, the American Bar Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He also appeared at numerous colleges and universities including Notre Dame, Iowa, Loyola, University of Chicago and NEIU. He also gives motivational talks to high school students, juvenile detention centers, and nonprofit organizations on learning to live positively, finding hope in hopeless situations, and shifting mindset.
He is married and lives in a Chicago suburb with his wife Andrea, a nurse, and their four children.
Josh Gryniewicz is a storyteller first and foremost. As a creative, he has applied his craft to writing, spoken word, filmmaking, comic books, and other medium. His nonfiction has been published in PopMatters, the Guardian, Huffington Post, and Medium.
Outside of these pursuits, Josh has spent his career in nonprofit, initially as a crisis counselor and later in external relations. For over a decade, he has worked in public interest communication. He served as the communication director for Cure Violence, an internationally renowned violence prevention program featured in the award-winning film The Interrupters. Josh helmed the rebrand of Integrate Health, a global health initiative in West Africa, on two continents helping increase their budget by nearly $1 million and propelling the organization forward as a thought leader. Most recently, Josh led communication efforts for Data Across Sectors for Health (DASH), a Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on national multi-sector data sharing to address social determinants of health.
In 2018, he founded Odd Duck to combine his passions of storytelling and social change.