Curtis Sliwa

Curtis Sliwa’s core ideas resonate well beyond the streets safeguarded by The Guardian Angels. With a unique combination of conviction and charisma, he often speaks before corporate teams, media professionals, senior executives, non-profit associations and educators. Drawing upon community activism as a backdrop, Sliwa draws direct comparisons. The challenge is this: “You have to get involved in the process. Don’t sit on the sidelines.” Sliwa has been privileged to speak for a variety of esteemed organizations including The Children’s Miracle Network, the YMCA, the Boy Scouts of America, Rotary International, the Young President’s Organization, News America Marketing, the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Willow Creek Association, Bob Proctor’s Life Success Consultants and The Salvation Army. His work has been recognized by Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Bush; applauded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; and commended by business, entertainment, and civic leaders worldwide.


Empowerment: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
Curtis speaks out on “empowering the powerless”, engaging individuals in helping themselves rather than looking for relief or protection from government or other resources. He talks about the lifelong benefits of empowerment and self-help to the individual, citing examples from his own personal experience growing up and as founder of The Guardian Angels.

Leadership: One Individual CAN Make a Difference.

Curtis encourages individuals of all walks of life to take on leadership roles and build effective teams. Instead of waiting for others to step up to the plate, we need to assume an active role, and recognize that one man/woman CAN make a difference. He describes what it takes to be a leader, drawing from his personal experience founding and leading The Guardian Angels for the past 28 years. Curtis is adept at customizing this presentation to resonate with groups represented by all ages and walks of life, in corporate, education, or community organizational settings.

Violence Prevention: Anti-Bullying, Anti-Gangs and Internet Safety
Curtis calls upon schools, church groups, parent and community organizations to take on the problem of violence in their worlds by becoming actively engaged in violence prevention efforts. He raises awareness about the safety threats posed by bullying, gangs and Internet predators and criminals, and outlines measures to safeguard children and families against them.


Full Biography

Curtis Sliwa is a pioneer who forged his grassroots activism into a global vocation. Curtis’ driving force was motivated by his unadulterated intention to better his community. Although offered a partial scholarship to study political science at Brown University, Curtis would find himself expelled from the prestigious Brooklyn Prep School during his senior year for student activism. In lieu of a brick and mortar education, Curtis enrolled in the reality of Fordham Road…a crime ridden section of the Bronx.

As night manager of the local McDonald’s, Curtis instituted a community clean-up program supported and blessed by the company. Local volunteers dubbed the “Rock Brigade,” painted over graffiti, cleaned up vacant lots, boarded up vacant buildings and planted trees and gardens in the Fordham neighborhood.

In the late 70s, determined to take back the community, Curtis expanded his neighborhood program to patrol the Number 4 Train, one of the worst subway lines in New York City, then known as the “Mugger’s Express.”

Curtis recruited a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic team of volunteers known as the “Magnificent Thirteen.” These volunteers rode the subway between the toughest stops and used the legal concept of citizen’s arrest to detain gang members and criminals for police. Initially they encountered resistance and skepticism from both transit and local police, however doubt was replaced with trust, as volunteers became role models.

This non-prejudicial approach was indicative of Curtis’ multi-tiered and tactical plan to alter the infrastructure of the community. He was determined to unearth the uncut neighborhood gems, and teach them to polish and shape themselves through developing self-respect and respect for others. Curtis armed these forerunners of The Guardian Angels with nothing more than common sense, self-control and martial arts training. He inspired communities to take responsibility, which resulted in the formation of what we now call Neighborhood Watch Groups.

As the original thirteen grew to be hundreds, a more organized structure was needed, resulting in the birth of The Guardian Angels in February, 1979. The Guardian Angels has grown to 60 chapters throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Brazil and Japan.

The red beret, first worn to symbolize courage, has become a worldwide icon for safety education. Curtis is recognized as one of the most effective and respected grass roots leaders and activists of the past quarter century.

Curtis continues to implement and enhance programs of personal, neighborhood, cyberspace and educational safety. While the street patrol component continues to thrive, his ultimate objective is to provide viable solutions to educational and classroom safety challenges. With Curtis at the helm, The Guardian Angels has evolved into a renowned organization focused on their groundbreaking work in developing curriculums to address the critical issues that threaten safe and effective education.