Ricardo “Cobe” Williams

Deputy Director of US Programs

Ricardo “Cobe” Williams works as Deputy Director for Cure Violence, selected as one of the top 10 NGOs by Global Journal in 2013. Cobe travels the globe and the US training violence interrupters in mediation and conflict resolution strategies for Cure Violence.

He provides training for 52 sites in 23 cities in the United States disproportionately impacted by violence, including Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. Cobe began his career with CeaseFire Illinois, the Cure Violence partner organization in Chicago as a violence interrupter in Englewood on Chicago’s south side. His work was chronicled in the 2011 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. The film was selected by New Yorker magazine, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly and the LA Times as one of the best films of 2011.

Internationally, Cobe has adapted the violence prevention model to different environments. He has provided training in shantytowns in Trinidad and Tobago, Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, among indigenous populations in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the first successful adaptation of the Cure Violence model in prison. In 2013, the Cookham Wood Youth Offender Institute in southeast England showed sharp decreases in violence, including 95% reduction in group attacks and more than a 50% reduction in all other types of violence directly attributable to the program. More recently, he provided training and adaptation of the model in Nigeria, Africa where extremism and religious conflict contribute to the violence.

For these efforts, Cobe received the “Hero Award” from world famous psychologist and renowned speaker Phillip Zimbardo and former Illinois governor Pat Quinn. He has also been recognized by the Mayor of Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University for his work. He has appeared on Vice and Crime Watch Daily.

He is in demand as a speaker, presenter and trainer nationally. He has appeared on the TEDX stage, spoken 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 regularly gives motivational talks to high school students, juvenile detention centers, and nonprofit organizations.

Cobe’s passion for helping and mentoring urban youth has enabled him to make a significant impact through CeaseFire Illinois and Cure Violence nationally and internationally. He is now one of three Cure Violence trainers who deploy globally to train new violence interrupters and outreach workers at Cure Violence partner program sites throughout the world.

He is married and lives in a Chicago suburb with his wife Andrea, a nurse, and their four children.