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 eleven years through volunteer work and direct client services. She is currently the director of programming at Advocates for Family Peace (AFFP), a private, non-profit organization located in rural northern Minnesota. AFFP’s mission is to support individuals to live violence-free lives, educate the community about domestic violence, work for social change through policy and practice, and promotes respect and acceptance. Laura co-facilitates groups for men who batter, women who use violence, advocates for victims of domestic violence, and oversees all agency programming.   She has trained nationally for Praxis International, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Supervised Visitation Network on issues related to domestic violence, children, and supervised visitation.  Along with the Turning Points curriculum she is  also the co-author of a curriculum and DVD for working with men who batter as fathers entitled, “Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter”.

Melissa Scaia is the executive director of Advocates for Family Peace (AFFP), a six-program agency that provides services to families experiencing domestic violence and child abuse in Itasca County, Minnesota.  She started in the battered women’s movement as the youth advocate focusing on individual and community advocacy related to teen dating violence.  As the executive director of AFFP she provides leadership to the organization, co-facilitates a group with men who batter, and co-facilitates a group with women who have used violence.  She provides training and technical assistance as a consultant for Praxis International and serves as a faculty member for the Family Violence Department for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.  She has also conducted training for the Battered Women’s Justice Project, Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Program, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.  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 services for battered women.  She has contributed to numerous publications related to supervised visitation and domestic violence.  She recently co-wrote a curriculum and DVD for working with men who batter as fathers entitled, “Addressing Fatherhood with Men Who Batter”. She has also participated in 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, and batterers intervention programs.

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