About Us


Ellen Pence has been working in the battered women’s movement since its inception in the mid 1970′s. In these three decades she has helped start the internationally known Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project. She was a co-author of the first curriculum for men who batter and for battered women; Creating a Process for Change and In our Best Interests.  As such she was one of the creators of the Power and Control wheel and the accompanying definition of battering as, a patterned use of coercion control and intimidation leading to the domination of the batterer over his victim. She has written curricula and policy for police officers responding to domestic violence calls; investigators preparing cases for charging, prosecutors, probation officers and judges. She has designed programs for visitation centers, Marine Corps bases, Child protection agencies and advocacy programs all focused on matching what institutions who intervene in families where violence is occurring do to what is actually going on for women and children in those families.

Laura Connelly  has worked to end domestic violence for the past fifteen years through volunteer work, direct client services, and systems-level advocacy. She provides consulting services and expertise to organizations based around the United States that are working on initiatives related to domestic violence. She has co-authored two nationally used curricula and regularly consults on design and implementation of group work with men and women who use violence in their intimate partner relationships. Laura holds a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota. She was named a 2015 Bush Fellow and used the two-year fellowship to expand her leadership skills, network, and knowledge – all with the goal of helping to advance the status of women at the local, regional, and national levels. 

 Melissa Scaia is the Director of International Training for Global Rights for Women (GRW).  In her position at GRW she brings a wealth of experience as the former executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), also known as “the Duluth Model.”  Prior to working in Duluth she was the executive director of Advocates for Family Peace (AFFP) for 17 years, a local domestic violence advocacy program. She has also lead and organized two Coordinated Community Responses (CCR) to address domestic violence in Minnesota, as well as co-facilitating groups for men who batter and women who use violence.  She is also a consulting trainer for a number of national training organizations on domestic violence and child abuse, including Battered Women’s Justice Project and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As a qualified expert in the state of Minnesota she testifies as an expert witness on domestic violence in criminal court cases.  She wrote her master’s thesis on the effects of domestic violence on children and wrote her doctoral dissertation proposal to address supervised visitation, children and domestic violence. She has contributed to numerous publications related to supervised visitation, children, and domestic violence. She has been selected for numerous roundtable advisory discussion groups for the Office on Violence Against Women through the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence related to: differentiating types of domestic violence, custody, working with domestic violence offenders, and batterers intervention programs.  Most recently she was named to a National Consulting Group on Batterers Intervention Programs and as a National Advisory Committee Member for Law & Order: SVU actress Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation for survivor based healing.  In addition, she participated at two United Nations Expert Meetings related to domestic violence in Kazakhstan and Spain.

Ellen Pence 

April 15, 1948 – January 6, 2012

It is with heavy hearts that we write about the passing of our dear friend and colleague Ellen Pence. We find it impossible to articulate the impact she had on our lives and the work that we do. There is not one piece of our work that has not in some way been shaped by her and her vision. The world is a better, safer place because she was in it, and we are stronger people because we were given the beautiful gift of working with her on a variety of projects. Her guidance, intellect, and drive made anything seem possible. We will miss her and will forever live with the void of not having her here to challenge us, teach us, and make us laugh.    Laura & Melissa