ESD College Level Certification Committee

The ESD College Curriculum Committee is dedicated to researching and developing a university accredited program in ESD. College students will have the opportunity to receive empowerment self defense (ESD) instructor certification upon completion of the curriculum and passing of the ESD instructor assessment. 

For more information

Stephanie Cyr, J.D.


Stephanie Cyr is the Program Manager responsible for the team developing a University Accredited Minor Degree in ESD. Currently, she is a lecturer at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and she has been teaching martial arts and empowerment self defense since 1990. She is a member of the SFSU Sexual Violence Prevention Committee and an instructor at the Mashouf Wellness Center on campus. She also serves as a consultant to the San Francisco Unified School District and has written self defense curriculum for the K-12 physical education department. Stephanie is the founder of Edge Self Defense and the author of The Weekly Edge and Moves of the Day. She has been featured at WorldWideWomen’s Girls Festival SF 2019 and runs private workshops for individuals and organizations in the Bay Area including Downtown Streets Team, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness. Stephanie serves on the Tamalpais Union High School District Wellness Board and is a member of the Joyful Heart Foundation SF Committee.


Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Science and a Juris Doctor with Honor. She is a 5th Dan in Taekwondo with AAU, Kukkiwon, Chang Moo Kwan and S.Henry Cho certification. She was a state and national champion as well as a coach and instructor. She holds rank in Krav Maga, Brazilian Jujitsu, and Zen Budokai Jiujitsu and continues to work on her boxing skills. She is currently completing her certification in trauma-informed yoga instruction.

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Dr. Gal Harmat, Ph.D.

Dr. Gal Harmat holds a PhD in Gender Analysis of Peace Education and Dialogue encounters from Nitra University (Slovakia) and a M.A. in Gender and Peacebuilding from the UN-Mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. She was a resident professor at the Gender and Peace Building Programme, and the head of the Dept. of Peace and Conflict Studies at UPEACE. Dr. Harmat is senior gender adviser to peace mediation processes and human rights organizations. She was a lecturer at the conflict transformation, peace education and gender and Co-Director of the Social Justice and Peace Education Teachers Training Program, Kibbutzim Teachers College in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is teaching in the World Peace Academy (University of Basel), UN University for Peace, and the Arts and Social Change College in Israel.

As a Gender and Peace Education Specialist, she has extensive experience in training, conflict analysis, dialogue facilitation, capacity building, peace education, research, gender empowerment and gender mainstreaming since 1998 in various countries in Eastern Europe, Africa, and West and South East Asia. Her consultancies include intergovernmental organizations (e.g. OSCE, UN Women, UNDP, Swiss Peace and the Council of Europe), and various international and regional NGOs (e.g. Non Violent Peace Force, Friends of the Earth Middle East; Peres Centre for Peace).

In the last few years she researches emancipating educational practices and facilitating experiential learning ‘sexual harassment prevention’ and diversity workshops for organizations and companies.

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Jocelyn Hollander, Ph.D.

Jocelyn Hollander is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oregon. She has spent the last 20 years studying empowerment self-defense training. Her research, published in journals including Violence Against Women, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Gender & Society, and Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, demonstrates the effectiveness of ESD for preventing violence against women, describes the far-reaching effects of ESD training in students’ lives, and argues for the importance of self-defense training for violence prevention. She co-organized ESD Global’s 2019 Empowerment Self-Defense Research Summit.


She has been an ESD instructor since the late 1980s, when she began teaching with the Women Defending Ourselves collective at Stanford University. She currently teaches ESD at the University of Oregon, where she co-developed the university’s ESD program and has served on the university’s Committee on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence. She holds a BA in Linguistics from Stanford University and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

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Darlene DeFour, Ph.D.

A native of Harlem, Darlene DeFour graduated from Fisk University and received her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Hunter College of the City University of New York, where her academic research has focused on the exploration of the various ways that violence in the form of racism, sexism, as well as physical violence, impact health and everyday life experiences. In addition to her work as a Social/Community psychologist, Darlene has been training in the martial arts for 39 years and was inducted into the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors Hall of Fame in 2012. She received the NWMAF award of excellence in 2016. She is a 9th degree Black Belt in San Yama Bushi Ryu Ju-jutsu, the first woman in the system to hold this rank and the Shihan title. She also holds a 6th degree black belt in Kushinda Ryu Shotokan karate.


Darlene was a founding co-chair (with Lauren Wheeler) of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation Anti-Racism Council in 2008. In 2016 she received NWMAF’s Award of Excellence. At SDIC starting in 2010 she introduced a course on Applied Microaggressions Defense to the martial arts and self-defense instructors communities, designed to address the subtle forms of racism that often permeate classroom settings. This class as well as the classes that she has given over the last decade were designed to highlight the need for anti-oppression training as a core competency for all self-defense teachers and other professionals committed to social justice.

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Carrie Slack, MSW, LCSW

Carrie Slack began in the Rape Crisis Movement as a volunteer then worked for 10 years as an educator and advocate with her local Rape Crisis Team. She has been teaching her community about child abuse and violence prevention since 1987 and Empowerment Self Defense since 1998.


Carrie Slack trained to teach self-defense in 1998 with Peace Over Violence. She is an Empowerment Self Defense Instructor certified by the National Women's Martial Arts Federation.


Ms. Slack developed self-defense courses for two colleges. In addition to teaching self-defense to college students, she has taught self-defense to seniors in community workshops and adolescent girls.


Ms. Slack earned a master’s degree in social work as well as her license in clinical social work. She worked for years as a clinician providing treatment for people who’ve committed sex offenses.


Carrie Slack is currently on the Social Work Faculty at Humboldt State University.

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Beth Bowman, MEd, LPC

Beth Bowman was introduced to karate and Taekwondo in 1990 and began teaching in 1995. She received her black belt in 1997, her second degree in 2007 and third degree in 2016. She has instructed hundreds of children and adults in all aspects of self- defense, i.e., blocks, kicks, punches, grabs, chokes, escapes, grappling, joint locks, katas, break falls, competitive sparring and demonstrations from 1995 to the present. She teaches Self Defense and karate voluntarily at local gyms, mentoring and community agencies. She has presented at the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation on the use of martial arts as a healing medium from traumatic events (2019) and will present again in July of 2020 on Teaching Beginning Sparring with a Trauma Informed Care Mindset. In January of 2020 she presented at the Creating Change Conference in Dallas, TX for the National LGBTQ Task Force on Self Defense for Safety and Healing. The Creating Change Conference, run by the National LGBTQ Task Force, is the foremost political, leadership, and skills-building conference for the LGBTQ social justice movement.

Beth is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (and Supervisor) and has worked in the mental health field since 1989 in the capacity of a therapist, trainer in crisis de-escalation for law enforcement and regional director of a crisis program in middle Georgia. Beth is currently in private practice (Bowman Healing Arts, LLC), working with those affected by PTSD, abuse, domestic violence, anxiety disorders, intellectual disabilities and LGBTQ individuals who have experienced trauma. Her passion has always been combining her love of martial arts with mental health and healing and sharing it with others. She provides individual and group workshops on empowerment self-defense and works in partnership with community medical and law enforcement agencies.


Michelle Johnson Blimes

Michelle Johnson Blimes is an Empowerment Self Defense instructor based in Hawaii. She is also a university instructor, teaching courses in gender and peacebuilding, intercultural communication, and student development. She acts as an adviser for Affirmation Hawaii Chapter, an off-campus LGBTQ support group. Michelle is passionate about women’s issues, fighting discrimination in all forms, and victim advocacy. She holds a master’s degree in communication and conflict resolution and a certificate in intercultural peacebuilding. Michelle completed the ESD Global level 1 instructor training in 2019.


Kim Rivers

Kim began her study of Self Defense in 1996, while a student at Berkshire Community College. She began her training in both T'ai chi and Aikido in 1997. She was invited by her instructor to assist teaching self defense workshops and courses in 2000 while continuing her martial arts studies. Kim became the lead instructor for the Self Defense course at Berkshire Community College in 2006, where she still currently teaches.. She was awarded her Senior Instructor certification from Berkshire Hills Aikido in 2010 and currently holds the rank of 5th degree black belt. She continues her training in martial arts with emphasis in Aikido and T'ai chi. Kim participated in ESD Global's Level 1 training 2018 in Huguenot, NY. Was certified as a self defense instructor by NWMAF and recently attended ESD Global's Master Instructor training and Violence Prevention Education Conference in Jerusalem Israel in 2020. In addition, Kim is a 3rd level Reiki master


Jay (Janet) O'Shea

Author, scholar, and martial artist Jay (Janet) O'Shea's research and teaching focuses on the politics of everyday life as experienced through dance, martial arts, and protest. She is a practitioner of Filipino martial arts, jeet kune do, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, and empowerment self-defense. She is the author of Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training (2019, Oxford University Press) and At Home in the World: Bharata Natyam on the Global Stage (2007, Wesleyan University Press), and the co-editor of the Routledge Dance Studies Reader, 2nd edition. She is currently writing a book on risk, vulnerability, and activism entitled Bodies on the Line: Physicality, Sentiment, and Social Justice. She is Professor in the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Giovanna Follo, Ph.D.

Giovanna Follo is an Associate Professor at Wright State University - Lake Campus. As a Sociology generalist, her research has focused on current issues within society such as living the sandwich generation, higher education labor strike, and student retention. Most passionately, Dr. Follo has conducted research with girls and women in martial arts and self-defense. Dr. Follo has earned her 3rd Degree Black Belt in Karate. In addition to traditional martial arts practice, she has studied and gained instructor certification in Commando Krav Maga as a Level 8 instructor, one of only three women in the world to attain this ranking. Dr. Follo is an Elite instructor in Smartsafe, a women's specific program, and Super Kid certified instructor (child-specific training).