Remembering Ellen Pence

January 30, 2012

On January 6, 2012, the domestic violence field lost one of its tireless pioneers and we lost one of our dearest friends – Dr. Ellen Pence. Ellen worked for more than 30 years to end violence in the lives of women and children. As co-founder of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, MN, she introduced a model of inter-agency collaboration that has been adopted in 50 states and more than 17 countries. Her work as director of Praxis International, Inc., a non-profit research and training organization with offices in Duluth and St. Paul, MN, ushered in innovative tools that meshed academic research with community advocacy, such as the Safety and Accountability Audit, the Blueprint for Safety, and other models for intervention and practice improvement. Through her work, Ellen helped administrators and practitioners re-evaluate their conceptual and organizational practices with an eye toward closing the gap between what people need and what institutions are structured to provide. She was a true leader in the emerging field of institutional ethnography, and a social activist with a compelling message of hope and institutional accountability.

Ellen inspired social workers, domestic violence advocates, and court professionals as our keynote speaker for our second national summit on the intersection of domestic violence and child maltreatment in 2009 (From Inspiration to Innovation: Leadership, Partnership and Change), and she served as faculty and as an advisor to NCJFCJ’s projects for many years. We are forever grateful for her existence on this Earth.

Honorable Dale R. Koch, Senior Judge and former President of the NCJFCJ said, “Ellen always reminded us of the impact of our decisions on the people appearing in front of us. In doing so, she tried to make us conscious of looking at all of our processes and decisions through the eyes of the people impacted by the ‘system’ rather than just through the eyes of the ‘system.’ That has made many of us much better judges. We are among a very privileged group for having had the opportunity to work with her directly and I am going to miss her a great deal.”

To read more about Ellen’s amazing life and legacy, please visit the following websites:

Battered Women’s Justice Project

Praxis, International

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