Alumni Interview with Gender Based Preventionist Tonjie Reese
Tonjie Reese is is an alumna of the MA in Education, Leadership and Change program and founder of the gender-based violence prevention nonprofit, eleven24. She is currently a program officer for Just Detention International and a consultant and trainer for eleven24. Recently, she has presented at several national conferences, including the National Sexual Assault Conference.
What is your educational and career background?
In 2011 I earned my Bachelors of Science in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Grand Valley State University and my Master of Arts in Education, Leadership, & Change from Antioch University Los Angeles. My career in gender-based violence prevention began in 2011 when I took on a role as a community educator for a local domestic and sexual violence organization. Since, I have held roles as a child advocate, program director, national community initiatives coordinator, and program development consultant. Currently, I serve as a program officer for Just Detention International, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence in correctional facilities, and a consultant/trainer through eleven24, a non-profit I founded in 2018.
What brought you to Antioch?
I was drawn to Antioch’s progressive education model and emphasis on being student-centered. Furthermore, I appreciated that Antioch had strong social justice values. It felt like a place where I could thrive and learn more about myself in order to make a greater impact in my field.
What was your experience at Antioch and how has it helped you with your career?
My time at Antioch was greater than I expected. During class discussions, I was able to apply my professional life with the readings and assignments. As a trainer and educator, the curriculum for the Education, Leadership, and Change program gave me an opportunity to strengthen my delivery skills and enhance my workshops. In class, I felt validated and challenged. The discussions with my classmates left me questioning and wondering, which in turn enriched my view on gender-based violence prevention and my capacity to apply research to my professional work.
Describe the work you are currently doing as a youth organizer, prevention educator, national speaker. Why is this work important to you personally and how is your approach different (reconceptualized)?
I was drawn to gender-based violence prevention as a sophomore in high school and again during my final year of undergrad during a Crimes Against Women class. Those experiences, my story, and the stories of my friends and family have kept me committed. In 2018 I founded eleven24 in order to build the capacity of caring adults–personal and professional, so that young people receive quality prevention education programming. I accomplish this by educating my peers on using media literacy and identity affirmation into their existing curriculums, creating resources, and connecting with young people and preventionists across the country. I’ve presented workshops at several conferences, including the National Sexual Assault Conference.