Board and Staff:
President and Founder
Yehudit (Yudit) Zicklin-Sidikman Founder and President of ESD Global Inc. – a US non-profit organization, is a thought leader, speaker, and educator on Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD) with over 20 years of experience in the field. She is a fourth-degree black belt in Judo and holds an MBA with a background in psychology. Yudit is committed to making Empowerment Self-Defense training, a proven Violence Prevention Education program, accessible worldwide. She is also co-founder and CEO of El HaLev, an award-winning Israeli non-profit organization dedicated to providing Empowerment Self-Defense and martial arts training to thousands of women and girls, reaching over 80,000 people, and is the director of IMPACT Self-Defense in Israel.
A speaker on all that is Empowerment Self-Defense, Yehudit regularly presents at international conferences on the importance of bringing ESD to all women and girls, as well as men and boys. She has been featured at the Third European Conference on Domestic Violence in Norway, the Women Moving Millions Summit in the US, and the signing of the Every Woman Treaty in Israel.
Click here to watch Yudit’s talk at EVOSO LIVE.
Her awards include the Israeli Ministry of Social Equality’s award for prevention of violence against women, the Colleen Gragen Award of Inspiration by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation, Jerusalem Woman of the Year (WIZO) award, the Woman of Valour Award from the Ambassadors' Club of Israel and she was counted among Nashim Magazine’s top 50 women in Israel.
Yudit’s work to eradicate violence against women - one of the world’s largest health issues - revolves around Violence Prevention Education. Under her leadership, ESD Global and El Halev have trained thousands of people, including women, children, and other vulnerable populations in Empowerment Self-Defense, an evidence-based primary violence prevention system that teaches individuals how to interrupt violence by listening to their intuition, assessing their options, asserting boundaries, using de-escalation strategies, and providing tools for a range of mental, verbal and physical responses. ESD is the most well-researched and most effective violence prevention intervention that exists today.
Dr. Gal Harmat
Board Member, Secretary
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.
Lissette Fitzgerald, Sensei and Sifu, ASSERT Empowerment and Self Defense, Jeet Kune Do, Filipino Kali, Rapid Assault Tactics, Tae Kwon Do, and Rock Steady Boxing Against Parkinson's Certified Coach
Liz Sensei is a Yondan in Traditional Tae Kwon Do, Nidan in Aikido as well as a member of the Jeet Kune Do Athletics Association Instructor Team under Sifu Harinder Singh Sabharwal, PFS Edged Weapons Law Enforcement Instructor, and Apprentice Instructor under Sigung Paul Vunak. She is a Rock Steady Boxing Certified Coach.
She is co-creator, Chief Training Officer, and Chief Instructor of the ASSERT Empowerment and Self-Defense program, is working towards her CNVC Non-Violent Communications Certification, and has been studying Cat Sensei’s blend of martial arts for over twelve years. Liz is an award-winning marketing editor and writer.
Ellen Krause-Grosman is the Executive Director of ESD Global. Her background includes more than 20 years of consulting and management experience with the senior leadership teams of non-profit and for-profit organizations including in the areas of operations and finance. Ellen specializes in helping organizations develop new programs and realize their vision by aligning resources and focusing on key goals. Ellen studies martial arts and self-defense and has taught self-defense classes. She is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the College of The University of Chicago, the Bentley University Executive Women’s Leadership program and has studied non-profit management at the Tufts University UEP program and social entrepreneurship at Greyston Enterprises.
Beth Capotosto is the Program Manager for ESD Global and an ESD Global Instructor Training Alumni. She is a Shodan in the art of Shaolin Kempo Karate and is an enthusiastic martial arts instructor at her Dojo in Somerville, MA. As an educator she has taught for over 20 years and in 2011, decided to focus her teaching exclusively in the martial arts and Empowerment Self-Defense. When not at ESD Global, Beth works as an Empowerment Self-Defense Consultant in the Greater Boston area through her program Tenacity: Women’s Self-Defense.
In addition to receiving Empowerment Self-Defense training through ESD Global, she actively trains each year with the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) for Martial Arts and Empowerment Self-Defense certification. She holds memberships with both NWMAF and the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors (AWMAI).
Advisory Group Member
Arlene Limas has won every major Taekwondo competition in the world, including the World Championships and the Olympic Games. She is an inductee in numerous halls of fame and holds many other accolades.
As a coach, Arlene has been regarded as one of the top coaches in the United States and arguably, the world. Motivated by how sports have shaped her life and empowered her, she is committed to empowering others and is a fierce athletes rights advocate.
Arlene has been committed to giving athletes life-changing sporting opportunities that are safe, inclusive, and predator-free.
In addition, she has been and is committed to the Olympic movement. She serves as the current National Capital Area Olympic alumni president, and has served in a leadership capacity on the DC 2012 and Chicago 2016 Games Bid efforts.
Arlene is very excited about the opportunity to share and shape the curriculum of empowerment self-defense programs available to all elite athletes and prepare and empower them at the highest levels.
Advisory Group Member
Meg Stone is the Executive Director of IMPACT Boston, an abuse prevention and empowerment self-defense organization that is an affiliate of the disability service and advocacy organization Triangle. In addition to leading self-defense and abuse prevention programs for many communities, she serves as the Project Director of IMPACT:Ability, an abuse prevention program focused on people with disabilities. In this capacity she leads the organizational abuse prevention efforts in schools and disability service organizations.
Meg served as a member of the Massachusetts State Sexual Violence Prevention Team, and the chair of the Team’s Developmental Disabilities subcommittee. She has presented about abuse prevention in disability communities and self-defense training at local and national conferences including the National Sexual Assault Conference, the National Adult Protective Services Association Conference, the Massachusetts Citizens for Children Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Summit, and the International Conference of the Trauma Center.
Meg’s writing on issues of sexual violence and self-defense have been published in the Washington Post, STIR Journal, The Establishment, Role Reboot, Ms., Cognoscenti, and several Boston-area regional newspapers.
Advisory Group Member
Julie Harmon PhD is Executive Director of IMPACT Safety, a Columbus based personal safety and violence prevention organization with affiliates across the United States as well as Canada, London, and Israel. For the past 30 years she has been involved in many aspects of anti-violence programming; from organizational and agency safety policy development to the development of skill based personal safety curriculum and programming implementation.
Julie has an extensive background in psychology, chemical dependency, counseling and training. She has spent more than 30 years addressing the complexity of issues related to personal violence and personal safety. She co-owned a martial arts school for women and children for 11 years, consulted with the National Institute of Corrections, and worked in the public and private mental health system,prior to IMPACT.
She excels in adapting and developing curriculum designed to meet the interpersonal needs of a wide range of groups - from children to adults - to those with special behavioral and cognitive needs to those recovering from trauma. She has overseen the growth of the organization from its inception in 1993.
She is Treasurer of IMPACT International, a network of IMPACT chapters across the world. She has trained staff and communities in various approaches to addressing interpersonal safety; both emotional, physical, organizational and systemic, across the United States, in Mexico and Israel.
Advisory Group Member
Lisa Gaeta was raised in Southern California and attended college at California Lutheran University, graduating with a BA in Communications and Political Science, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. After graduating, she took a position at Cal Lutheran teaching Public Speaking and served as Faculty Advisor for the University radio station, KCRL.
Half-way through her master’s program in 1984, Lisa took her first IMPACT class. From her first heel-palm, she knew she was hooked and her career plans changed drastically! She and her partner at the time, Al Potash, started what is now IMPACT Personal Safety, SoCal in 1985. Lisa, along with the various teams she has worked with over the decades, has made considerable changes and developments to the original program. Most notably, changes and additions to the verbal strategies that are taught in most IMPACT programs. She continues to encourage course development and improvement from her staff.
Lisa has been a driving force in keeping IMPACT alive in Southern California and all over the United States. She has trained hundreds of instructors around the world to teach IMPACT and has taught thousands of women, children, and men how to live their lives more safely…and, well, she taught them to kick ass, too!
Lisa currently serves as CEO of IMPACT Personal Safety, SoCal. She also continues to train new instructors and teach classes. During the school year, she teaches daily at various high schools around the Los Angeles area.
Ellen Snortland’s work has been featured on NPR and Dateline NBC. Her TEDxPasadena talk encapsulates decades of her self-defense advocacy. A long time women’s rights advocate, she has had a column in the Pasadena Weekly for decades. Her acclaimed one woman show, “Now That She’s Gone” is a memoir about growing up Norwegian American in Colorado and South Dakota staged at the Edinburgh and New York Fringe festivals. Snortland has attended United Nations world conferences and annual UN meetings as an NGO delegate, self-defense advocate and UN Press Corps credentialed journalist. “Beauty Bites Beast”, a full length documentary feature based on her self-defense advocacy has screened all over the world including New York, Islamabad and Jerusalem.
Advisory Group Member
Advisory Group Member
Wendi Dragonfire (9th dan, Shuri Ryu karate; 2nd-degree black belt, Modern Arnis) is an internationally recognized teacher, trainer, consultant and writer on martial arts, self-defense, empowerment, and women’s and LGBTQ issues. She also practices Healing Touch, a form of energy-based therapy.
In 1984, Dragonfire was invited by Kenau (an organization funded by the Health and Sports Ministry to teach women to teach self-defense) along with three other Dutch organizations to move to the Netherlands to provide information and training that was otherwise not available in Europe. Since then, Dragonfire has been providing training throughout Western Europe and is often asked to provide teacher training.
Dragonfire currently teaches karate and self-defense seminars and has been a senior advisor to El HaLev in Israel since its inception. A founder of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF), her passion for teaching and excellence touch not only other martial artists but everyone, including people with disabilities who want to live more empowered, safer lives.
In addition, she teaches Prevention and Safety for Healthcare Professionals and Intercultural, Social, Physical and Mental Empowerment.
Sheila Watson holds a 3rd dan black belt in Ch’ang-Hon Taekwon-Do. She trains and teaches at Sandalwood Martial Arts in Victoria, BC Canada and is head of their Community Self-Defense program. Ms. Watson works primarily in the local high schools, teaching students a variety of physical, verbal and emotional defense strategies.
Advisory Group Member
Advisory Group Member
Antonella Spatola is a certified Kung Fu instructor at her school Intuitive Wing Chun Kung Fu. Ms. Spatola has B.A. in psychology, is a professional mediator in conflict resolution, cofounder of Modern Wisdom, a training organization providing insights into how you think, feel and behave based on your neuropsychology.
She has her Level 1 accreditation in Empowerment Self Defence and trains women and girls with a holistic approach in a safe environment. Her instruction provides tools and practice for the students to protect themselves emotionally, verbally and physically, should the need arise.
Recently back from New York and London to develop her skills in ESD, Antonella is dedicated and passionate about unifying the principles of martial arts, ESD, positive psychology, neuro programming, and meditation. Antonella also coaches and mentors through transformative and profiling techniques to give empowering insights so clients step up and make inspiring changes in their lives.