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IMPACT is the original and longest-running self-defense program in SoCal using a padded instructor.

Meet The Team

IMPACT Personal Safety is a group of women and men working together to end the cycle of violence.  We use a team of instructors in every class; a Lead Instructor (usually female) and a Padded Instructor (PI) who acts as a coach and a mock aggressor.


Lisa Gaeta

CEO and Founder of IMPACT Personal Safety, Southern California


Jennifer Bunting

Lead Instructor, Senior Instructor, Instructor Trainer


Don Hart

Padded Instructor, Senior Instructor, Instructor Trainer


Tom Rose

Executive Director of IMPACT Personal Safety, SoCal and IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado


Nicole Snell

Lead Instructor, Board Member and CEO of Girls Fight Back


Ben Cook

Padded Instructor, Senior Instructor, Instructor Trainer and Board Member


Michael Peñafiel

Padded Instructor, Senior Instructor, Instructor Trainer


Dani Joy

Lead Instructor, Instructor Trainer and Social Media Manager


Johnny Albano

 Senior Instructor, Instructor Trainer, Rhino Armor engineer/builder for IMPACT instructors


Matt Harris

Padded Instructor


Daniela Lizano

Lead Instructor, Visual Designer

Herstory and evolution

In 1984, the seeds for Impact Personal Safety were planted when our founder, Lisa Gaeta, took her first “Model Mugging” class. Once she fought off the mugger for the first time, she knew her life was changed forever. She trained to become an instructor and soon after began to develop the verbal skills curriculum, which is now so prevalent in most IMPACT training around the globe. Because of this work, in conjunction with the writings of Gavin De Becker in his groundbreaking book, The Gift of Fear, our ‘verbals’ have become our defining feature and what many grads report as the most valuable thing they take from class.

IMPACT initially developed its training for adult women, seeking to combat the frightening statistic that one in three women will be the victim of sexual assault during her lifetime. But at least half of the women who took our class had already survived some type of assault. So we developed workshops for teen girls. When we again encountered a much-too-high incidence of assault in that age group, we developed a kids program for boys and girls ages 6-12.

Students had endless “what if…?” questions—"What if I can’t see?" "What if he has a gun?" "What if I’m in a bed?" "What if my kids are with me?"—which resulted in experimentation and the addition of more classes to our rosters, such as the Advanced Course, Partners, Weapons Defense, and Multiple Assailants. But, we didn’t stop there…

In 2010, we became a 501(c)3 non-profit to provide our life-saving training to at-risk youth and financially disadvantaged women who cannot afford regular classes. We work with the LA Downtown Women’s Shelter regularly and, in 2013, added scholarship slots to all of our regular Basics courses when funding is available.

meet the team

Do you want to be an IMPACT Instructor?

It takes someone special to be an IMPACT instructor, yet our instructors are ordinary everyday people. Teachers, executives, salespeople, scientists, and artists – all our instructors felt the need to give back.

All instructors work for us whenever they can and would like to. Most classes are on weekends, so for most of our staff, teaching for IMPACT is meaningful part-time work. 


One thing that makes IMPACT unique is “the suit.” Perhaps you’ve seen them on TV or at a local event.

Our padded instructors wear specially designed protective armor so that our students can strike full force and find out what it takes to confront a larger person or to deliver a knockout blow to an aggressor. They are protected from head to toe, providing students with the unique opportunity to fight back using all of their strength and without hesitation.

Padded Instructor

Do you want to be a Padded Instructor?

The job of a PI is gratifying and challenging. They wear specially tailored protective gear that keeps them safe while simulating realistic assaults in which students practice simple, effective defensive techniques using full-force strikes. They also get to use their acting and improv skills during the verbal scenarios where we train students to use realistic language to practice talking their way out of a situation.


IMPACT Personal Safety Global is working to end the cycle of violence throughout the world.

We do this by training instructors to empower people to take control of their lives through verbal and physical skills. The fundamental truth is that your life is worth fighting for.

What's next?

Contact us
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