Center for American Progress

Community Violence Intervention: Denise Villamil and Southern California Crossroads

Community Violence Intervention: Denise Villamil and Southern California Crossroads

Denise Villamil, executive director of Southern California Crossroads, discusses how her own lived experience in a community with fewer opportunities has informed her holistic approach to community violence intervention.

Part of a Series
It’s much more than statistics or numbers, it is people who are proud of their community. Denise Villamil

Denise Villamil is the executive director of Southern California Crossroads, an organization that focuses on providing safety and healing to individuals who have been affected by gun violence in their communities. Along with Denise, program staff at Crossroads are viewed as credible messengers because they often have grown up in the same communities they now serve and pull from their own lived experiences to connect with individuals who are experiencing violence-related trauma.

Many community violence intervention programs such as Crossroads find their strength in having personal connections to the places and people affected most by gun violence. In this video, Denise shares how her own lived experience has informed her work and discusses why credible messengers are uniquely positioned to provide lifesaving interventions and mentorship.

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Nick Wilson

Senior Director, Gun Violence Prevention

Chandler Hall

Senior Policy Analyst


Matthew Gossage

Events Video Producer

Hai-Lam Phan

Senior Director, Creative

Madalyn Reagan

Video Intern

Toni Pandolfo

Video Producer, Production

Ala Al Sadi

Former Video Producer


Gun Violence Prevention

Our goal is to reduce gun violence by enacting strong gun laws, increasing investment in local solutions, and growing the movement dedicated to this mission.

Explore The Series

Photo shows a young man lighting a candle in the late evening

In America, gunshots rattle communities every 11 minutes. Amid this cycle of tragedy, community violence intervention (CVI) programs are addressing the root causes of violence to end cycles before they can start.

Through collaboration with residents and government officials, CVI programs curb the spread of gun violence by meeting community members where they are and responding to their individual needs. In violence-affected neighborhoods, residents are grappling with trauma and long-standing hardships that fuel the rise in shootings. But CVI programs channel resources back into the community, improving access to needed resources such as education, employment, housing, and health care.

In a nation haunted by the daily occurrence of gun violence, CVI programs provide a path forward—toward healing, unity, and a safer future for everyone.

This series highlights resources on CVI programs and stories from the voices of change on the front lines of America’s gun violence epidemic. These narratives are a reminder of the challenges and successes that outline the effort to save more lives.


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