Alisa Del Tufo

Ashoka Fellow
North Bennington, Vermont, United States
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when Alisa Del Tufo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Family violence was once considered a private family matter, and then in the 1970s became the business of the criminal justice and social welfare system. Alisa envisioned a better solution: Build the capacity of individuals and communities to see and address the root causes of family violence. Convinced that these problems can best be mitigated and eliminated where they arise—in the belief systems and cultural context of the families. Alisa enables communities to prevent domestic violence and preserve child welfare, with minimal reliance on or intrusion by social welfare and criminal justice institutions.

Although domestic violence (DV) services had been around for a long time, Alisa realized that few were taking into account the cultural context in which family violence occurs, and fewer were working on violence prevention. For Alisa, that context is crucial. She believes that everyone can be engaged in offering safety and support to adults and children in violent family situations and, even more importantly, can learn to recognize troubled families and help them solve their problems without resorting to violence. Alisa established CONNECT to end family and gender violence by transforming the beliefs that fuel abusive behavior, and to empower those closest to the problem, including men and boys, to come together to find solutions. Through transformative education, Alisa has pioneered programs that help batterers, victims, children, community members, service providers, clergy, and social workers, examine and change the assumptions that perpetuate family violence. In this model, social welfare and criminal justice organizations support, rather than co-opt, the power of people to take charge of their problems.

After proving these concepts in communities throughout New York City, Alisa is turning her attention to helping communities across the U.S. adapt this comprehensive “health model” to promote the safety and well-being of children and families. Working at the intersection of DV and child welfare, Alisa brings these artificially but historically separate systems together to work for the benefit of the families they serve. She also focuses on the problems that fuel much of this country’s family violence: Poverty and racism.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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