Cobe Williams, Community Outreach Director
Ricardo “Cobe” Williams works as a national trainer 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.
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 and personal journey 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. One film critic wrote that the work of Cobe and the others profiled in the film is “heroically life affirming.” Another termed it “inspiring.”
Cobe has made scores of public appearances to discuss the film with non-profit and public groups throughout the US and abroad. He has received the “Hero Award” from former Illinois governor Pat Quinn and was recognized by the Mayor of Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University for his work. He has spoken at various forums including at the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations, the American Bar Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as at numerous colleagues and universities including Notre Dame, Iowa, Loyola, University of Chicago and NEIU. Cobe has also spoken with high school students and residents at juvenile detention centers around the country, as he has a passion for mentoring urban youth.
Growing up in Englewood, a south side community in Chicago long-associated with poverty and street-violence, Cobe’s father was murdered when he was 11 years old. His loss had a profound impact on Cobe, who went on to emulate his father’s lifestyle. As a young man, Cobe was imprisoned three separate times for drug-related charges and attempted murder. During his final stay, he made a decision that he wanted and needed to be there for his own young son. In 2007, soon after his release, he was hired by CeaseFire Illinois as a violence interrupter. 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 surburb with his wife Andrea, a nurse, and their four children.