The Safety Team consists of seven highly-skilled women who together have over 50 years of martial arts training, including extensive training at the Martial Way Self-Defense Center in Colchester and Milton, Vermont. Our team has been offering women’s self-defense workshops for over 10 years to groups of all sizes. As women, we clearly understand the realistic concerns other women have regarding personal safety.
While we teach both introductory and advanced women’s empowerment self-defense trainings, all classes include a focus on verbal, tactical, and physical techniques that are effective and easy to learn. As an added strength, team members are professional women who work in fields ranging from psychology, education, law enforcement, physical therapy and forensic toxicology, and, as such, we bring a wide range of relevant skills and expertise to our workshops.
We welcome inquiries, and would be happy to talk with you about our programs. Please contact us at Christine@TheSafetyTeam.org for more information.
Christine DiBlasio, Ph.D. (President) was inspired to study martial arts by her children, over 15 years ago. She currently holds the rank of 4th degree Black Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu. She continues to train on a regular basis and enjoys learning and being challenged through the martial arts. Christine is also a licensed psychologist and the director of an outpatient, private mental health practice, Stone House Associates. In this capacity, Christine has had the honor of working with many women who are survivors of violence and sexual assault. This in part has motivated her to offer these self-defense classes for women. Also, her experience as a woman and a mother of two daughters makes the mission of women’s safety, well-being and empowerment one that is close to her heart. She continues to update The Safety Team’s curriculum on a regular basis, and her self-defense approach blends both her background in martial arts and psychology to provide simple, yet effective, mental and physical self-defense strategies for women. Her sense of humor, professional approach, and her respect for the sensitive nature of this material help her connect with course participants. Christine welcomes questions or inquires and can be reached at Christine@TheSafetyTeam.org
Darcy Richardson-Miller, M.S. (Vice President) has been training in the martial arts for approximately 15 years and holds the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu, as well as a Black Belt in Arnis, the Filipino art of stick-fighting. As a forensic toxicologist (See Vermont Forensic Services), Darcy has extensive expertise regarding the legal issues of assault and self-defense, as well as the evidence needed to present in a court. As part of her career, Darcy evaluates assault cases and renders opinions on issues of impairment and toxicity. This knowledge enriches The Safety Team workshops by providing a realistic perspective on specific risks and subsequent avoidance strategies. Darcy’s toxicology experience directly relates to the use of alcohol and drugs in date rape situations. This is especially important as alcohol is the number one date rape drug used and is a common social issue with a variety of age groups. Too often women don’t realize how this impairment can reduce their ability to protect themselves and get out of potentially dangerous situations. Darcy believes it is crucial for young women to understand these risks. As a mother, Darcy is especially dedicated to ensuring that women and children have the right skills to protect themselves. Darcy can be reached at Darcy@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Nancy Keller, M.Ed., C.A.S. (Treasurer) has been a student of the martial arts since 2002 and a valued member of The Safety Team since 2004. She holds the rank of 3rd degree Black Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu, 2nd Degree Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and 3rd Degree Brown Belt in Bushintai-Do, a martial art created especially for practice in public schools. Nancy is also a national board certified science and mathematics educator with over 25 years of experience teaching both young adolescents and adults. Having integrated Bushintai-Do into her classroom, Nancy has witnessed first-hand the positive influence learning a martial art can have on the lives of students. While students learn and practice the physical skills of self-defense, they also make academic and social/emotional gains. Nancy is known as a warm, patient and encouraging instructor who combines her classroom expertise and martial arts training to help her students grow in self-confidence and independence. She can be reached via email at Nancy@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Karen Chevalier (Secretary) began her martial arts training many years ago after first participating as a student in The Safety Team’s Workshop and Boot Camp and she was inspired to learn more. Since that time, she has earned the rank of 2nd Black Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu, graduated with honors from the Police Academy, and serves as a police officer for a local police department. Karen plays a valuable role on The Safety Team, as she brings real-life experience about violence towards women from her work in law enforcement and is well-versed in the legal aspects of self-defense. She is also trained in the proper use of pepper spray, and frequently shares her knowledge about the use of such self-defense items during the workshops (as requested). In addition to being an endurance athlete, Karen is devoted to The Safety Team program and helps out as often as she can. She can be reached at Karen@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Hillary Boucher holds the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu and a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, testing her skills in competition regularly. Due to her successful competition record, Hillary holds numerous medals won in the Vermont Open Grappling Championship. Hillary is a forensic chemist with the Vermont State Forensic Laboratory, focusing on Serology and DNA. She brings valuable and relevant insight into The Safety Team’s self-defense workshops based on her experience and expertise in this field. Her caseload entails evidence that is collected from environments and situations where criminal activities and/or physical altercations may have occurred, including sexual assaults. Due to this, she has a keen understanding of the environment, situations, and evidentiary procedures that occur in situations where criminal activity and self-defense merge. Hillary entered into the study of the martial arts on the suggestion of a close friend, and quickly fell in love with training. She was honored when Christine asked her to assist in offering women’s empowerment self-defense classes as she really enjoys being able to reach women and help them build confidence and skills to avoid dangerous situations. She can be reached at Hillary@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Christina Allard, PT began her martial arts training when her daughter was in middle school, so that they could share a positive and empowering activity together. She has continued to train regularly and currently holds the rank of 3rd Degree Brown Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu. As a licensed Physical Therapist, Christina brings expertise about motor planning, physical training and its connection to mental and emotional well-being to the Safety Team workshops. Her work with children in school systems has given her first hand experience in witnessing how practicing coordinated movements can increase an individual’s sense of confidence and competence; this in turn reinforces her desire to give people who are feeling vulnerable the tools to protect themselves. She can be reached at Tina@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Eileen Mann (Board Member) began training in martial arts with her children at Martial Way Self-Defense Center, where she earned a 1st Degree Brown Belt in Kempo-JuJitsu. For 25 years, Eileen worked as a sales representative with GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company. Her responsibilities included presenting scientific research to physicians and pharmacists, training new sales associates, and serving on many boards responsible for advising upper level management. Eileen is currently a customer service manager for a small local business, and has volunteered in the community for many school activities and for several years with the American Lung Association. As a member of The Safety Team, Eileen brings her years of marketing and community outreach expertise to help make a difference in the lives of women. She can be reached at Eileen@TheSafetyTeam.org
Naima Dennis was first introduced to martial arts around 2002. She holds a blue belt in Kempo and is currently training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Naima is the Sr. Asst. Registrar for Technology at The University of Vermont. She provides hardware and software technical support for the Office of the Registrar and supervises the technology team which consists of the Room Scheduling Analyst, Portal Developer, and The Office of Transfer Affairs. Naima is currently studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer. She is extremely interested in helping people, women specifically, create healthy lifestyles and reach their fitness goals. Naima wants to make fitness accessible and non-intimidating. She believes that exercise is one the foundations of a healthy mind and body. She can be reached at Naima@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Peg Rieley begin her martial arts journey in the early 1990’s. As a former college athlete, she was looking for a physically and mentally challenging outlet and martial arts was a natural fit. She holds a purple belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate and has also trained in Taekwondo. Peg was introduced to the Safety Team when she and her eldest daughter participated in a workshop. The program’s mission and curriculum struck a chord, promoting many of the tenets that Peg holds dear; strength, community, safety and well-being, women’s empowerment, positive change. Peg and her husband own and operate a commercial and residential real estate development business. She can be reached at Peg@TheSafetyTeam.org.
Genevieve Henry took our Level 1, 2 & 3 workshops five years ago with her 14-year-old daughter. Wanting more, they both joined the team dojo to further their martial arts training. Her daughter became a regular volunteer and when she left for college, Genevieve took over her role as a volunteer and is now a 2nd-degree brown belt in Kempo. She lives in Burlington but is originally from Quebec. She is a French teacher, massage therapist, a regular volunteer at The Family Room, and the co-owner of Birth Journeys, a childbirth education company whose goal is to support and empower families through pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period. She is also one of the founders and instructors for the UVM Volunteer Doula Program. Through her work, Genevieve wishes to empower women and promote equality. She has three grown kids, a middle schooler and two rescue dogs.