Our Founders


Our organization is inspired by the vision of two extraordinary leaders: Connie Rice, a legendary civil rights lawyer, and Susan Lee, a transformational, nonprofit leader.

Connie Rice

Connie dared to believe that change was possible for Los Angeles Police Department. After decades of suing the agency for civil rights abuses, she began to realize a new approach was needed. Connie founded the Urban Peace Institute and began an unorthodox strategy. Instead of initiating lawsuits, she began to partner with department leaders to uncover abuses and recommend solutions. Connie then co-authored a revolutionary report, A Call to Action, which effectively changed the way Los Angeles deals with gangs and violence.  She and Chief Charlie Beck were the visionaries behind the creation of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), a relationship-based policing program focused on transforming community-police relations in LA’s most violent areas.

Susan Lee

Inspired by the goal of creating safe and healthy communities for all, Susan led the Urban Peace Institute for over a decade. She crafted the organization’s signature approach to promoting safety, our Comprehensive Violence Reduction Strategy, and expanded the Urban Peace Institute’s work across the country to help communities break the devastating cycle of gang violence. Susan was the co-author of the Call to Action report and the architect of the Community Safety Partnership program that has helped transform how LAPD polices in gang hot zones.  Susan also established our first research and advocacy efforts to promote smart justice solutions to reform Los Angeles’ probation and juvenile justice systems.


Together, our founders became an unstoppable force to promote safety and health in underserved communities. As a result of Susan and Connie’s leadership, the Urban Peace Institute is now an independent organization with national impact. Our founders continue to lead violence reduction initiatives across the country. Connie serves as an Urban Peace Institute Board Member, and Susan continues to act as an advisor while serving as a Senior Director for Chicago CRED.