Nicole Hockley chose to transform unspeakable grief and anguish into action after her youngest son, Dylan, was murdered in his first-grade classroom during the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
As the co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, Nicole works every day to protect children from gun and school violence.
Sandy Hook Promise Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and empowering youth and adults to prevent violence in schools, homes, and communities. Under Nicole’s leadership, the research-driven Know The Signs violence prevention programs were created and are now available to schools at no cost. More than 18.5 million have participated in these life-saving programs in 23,000+ schools and youth organizations nationwide. As a result, countless acts of violence have been averted – including at least 15 planned school attacks – saving precious lives and helping youth get much-needed mental health support.
Nicole is a leading voice on school safety and gun violence prevention, rising above the political divide over gun control, focusing instead on helping young people get the help they need. She is a sought-after keynote speaker and commenter, sharing expertise on recognizing the warning signs of someone who may be in crisis or at risk of harming themselves or others, and how to safely intervene. She has presented several TEDx Talks, her opinion editorials have been published by Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, and InStyle, and her commentary has been featured in CNN, MSNBC, Newsy, ABC, CBS, and NBC news coverage, among countless other media outlets.
Mark Barden is co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund. Since the tragic murder of his son, Daniel, during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, Mark has dedicated himself to sparing other families the pain of losing children to gun violence.
Mark believes that thoughtful, sincere dialogue centered on protecting youth will lead us to shared common ground and nonpartisan solutions everyone can agree with. These include expanded background checks, secure storage of firearms, extreme risk protection laws, and other measures that are proven to prevent gun violence.
Under his leadership, the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund successfully advances a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal level to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. This includes writing and passing the Mental Health Parity Act under President Obama; the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act under President Trump; and Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act under President Biden. In the summer of 2022, the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund helped a deeply partisan Congress come together to pass the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” the first gun safety package in nearly 30 years, which included enhanced background checks for buyers under the age of 21, partially closing the dating loophole, funding to support states implementing extreme risk protection orders, and additional funding for mental health services and school safety. Each piece of legislation passed through Congress with bipartisan support helps ensure that cost is never a barrier to school violence prevention.