• + 312-761-3633
  • 15941 S Harlem Ave, Tinley Park, IL 60477

About us

Dr. Ameena Matthews, mother and wife, has dedicated her life and career as a Community Activist for peace building and social change. Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago raised by her single grandmother in one of the toughest neighborhoods, Dr. Matthews observed the dereliction caused by the violent epidemic inflicted on the community. From that early exposure she committed herself to ending the mindset that violence is a normal behavior in Chicago. In 2006, Ameena Matthews joined Cure Violence, formerly known as Ceasefire, an award winning scientific public health model that has been proven to reduce shootings and killings for the past eight years. Prior to her journey as a Violence Interrupter, Ameena has always promoted peace building through block and community center gatherings, and youth expression through the art of music, dance, and spoken word in the South-Shore and Englewood neighborhoods where she was raised. Additionally, she has help organized and called Pause for Peace summits to bring youth from the surrounding neighborhood together to bring forth resolution to conflict. Since 2006, Ameena has used her experience and knowledge in her neighborhood, to seek out and build relationships with troubled youths who are susceptible to the social norms of violence that still exist on the streets. As a highly specialized violence intervention expert, she has developed her own anti-violence organization Pause for Peace, which operates under the motto “Don’t Let 30 Seconds of Rage Change Your Life FOREVER”!!!!! She trains her resource specialist and program staff to seek out funding models and sources that will aid in the instruction of youth participants. Dr. Matthews’ goal is to help youth to understand that killing someone is not the social norm, through love, compassion, and forgiveness training. The organization places its focus also on social change and social service programs that work to address and end violence in the lives of impoverished and underprivileged youth in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. In 2009, Ameena became the subject of the International Emmy Award winning documentary ‘The Interrupters’ produced by Steve James and co-produced by Alex Kotlowitz and Zak Piper. It has been accepted at numerous film festivals and won awards, such as Sundance Film Festival at Park City Utah where Matthews had the honor of sharing the experience with her family. The documentary features her as a riveting Community Activist and Behavior Practitioner, while showing her loving and nurturing attributes. New York Times magazines awarded her with the top five performances in 2011 despite ‘The Interrupters’ being a documentary. That same year, she received the TedX Midwest Heroes Award presented by Illinois’ Governor Quinn and was honored as the 2011 Chicagoan of the Year. That summer she was presented with the 2011 Malcolm X & Betty Shabazz Humanitarian Award, as well as an innumerable amount of other awards and recognitions. Ameena has appeared on the local affiliates of every major television network, as well as CNN, BBC, Frontline, AlJazeera, The Huffington Post and HLN. She also has been interviewed by various National Public Radio personalities, covered in USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Chicago SunTimes, The Chicago Redeye, Jet Magazine, The New York Times, and featured in the 2013 Essence Magazine Chicago Hope Article. Dr. Ameena Matthews was a guest on The Colbert Report in 2012 and The Jeff Probst Show in 2013. On October 16, 2013 Dr. Matthews received the 2013 Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Medal (Freedom from Fear). Past recipients of this prestigious medal include Presidents Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton, Senator Ted Kennedy, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Studs Terkel, Tom Brokaw, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Elie Wiesel, as well as international honorees Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, Asma Jahangir, and Carlos Fuentes. Today, Dr. Matthews is still in the trenches of Chicago’s neighborhoods working to strengthen the community so that the youth have the capacity to exercise formal social control and respond in non-violent ways towards issues that affect them. With her faith and praise in Allah, Dr. Matthews’ goal is to continue to stay engaged with the community by establishing direct encounter techniques, such as, risk reduction and behavior modification, to temper violent behavior. She credits her supportive and loving family, as well as her early life experiences, for inspiring her desire to educate and affect behavior modification, not only in Chicago but nationally and internationally in education.