Issue 10 2023

28 | Acquisition International, Issue 10 2023 Life After Hate Life After Hate is a leader in the violence intervention community and the first non-profit in the US dedicated to helping individuals disengage from violent far-right hate groups and hateful online spaces. We find out more as following it being recognised as Extremism Intervention NPO of the Year 2023. Contact: Patrick Riccards Company: Life After Hate Web Address: Aug23402 Life After Hate is committed to combating violent far-right extremism to establish a safer, more resilient nation and world. Since its founding in 2011, Life After Hate has expanded its services to include family members of individuals who are involved with the violent far right or are disengaging. CEO and Executive Director, Patrick Riccards believes that the only way to send violent extremism into retreat is to help individuals identify what they need to leave hate and violence behind. More directly, the organisation needs to reduce the magnitude of violent extremism and make it more difficult for new members to be recruited. Life After Hate currently stands as the United States’ leader in such intervention work. To accomplish its mission, Life After Hate offers a portfolio of resources, including its direct services programme, ExitUSA™, and a range of complementary education and community engagement initiatives designed to amplify the work and findings of the programme. ExitUSA™ is an intervention programme addressing violent far-right extremism (VRFE) for individuals who are already radicalised by providing disengagement services and support for women, men, and families. The programme provides case management, life skills training, and peer mentoring services to individuals who are or have been involved in VFRE. It also provides case management, skills training, and a bi-weekly psychoeducational support group for families or friends with loved ones involved in the violent far-right. “Our work with clients is labour intensive and many of our clients are high need, meaning they may require years of services,” Patrick explains. “We work diligently to ensure our staff and external partners have the training they require to handle the intricacies of the population we serve. Ongoing outreach and education is provided to mental health practitioners and social service providers who work with the specific needs of our clients in the state where they reside.” Life After Hate is built on five core values, these being: compassion, empathy, integrity, redemption, and accountability, and under the steadfast leadership of Patrick, the organisation has embraced a culture of standards, ethics, and results. Patrick believes that the most important thing he can do as CEO is to do everything possible to support his team. “There are few jobs as challenging as working with violent extremists to help them completely turn their lives around,” he elaborates. “Our staff face significant mental health challenges and physical threats as part of this work. My job is to have their backs at every step of the way. That means getting them the professional development they need, improving their salary and benefits so it reflects the complexity of their work, and listening to and appreciating what they are going through.” Life After Hate is constantly looking to innovate and grow its work. This year, it will be launching a new service effort specifically for military veterans, a growing source of violent extremists in recent years, and will therefore be working with them in respectful ways to avoid those paths and remember their service to the nation. The organisation will also be launching several new public education efforts, targeting families and loved ones and current extremists. With each of these new ideas, it was essential to ensure that Life After Hate’s staff were involved in the development from the start. “We are a small staff that can often feel overworked,” Patrick tells us. “I want every member of the team to feel invested in our work and in our new initiatives. I need their buy in. So we are constantly collaborating as a full team, making sure every new initiative closely aligns with our mission.” Teamwork is of the utmost importance when it comes to the work that Life After Hate does, and Patrick strives to make sure that every single member of his team is playing at their very best, that they have the right resources to do the job and to do the job well. Recently, for its dedication and commitment, Life After Hate gained notable recognition in the AI Global Excellence Awards and was named Extremism Intervention NPO of the Year 2023. Looking ahead, Patrick and Life After Hate will be taking the lessons learned from the work in the law enforcement vertical to design and deploy similar education and engagement efforts focused on members of the military, those preparing for mental health careers, and even for family of those currently engaged in the violent far-right. The organisation will also be launching several new public engagement campaigns this year to help loved ones better engage with the extremists in their lives, and is committed to helping law enforcement to better understand how to engage with violent extremists to reduce acts or domestic terrorism. “We are very excited by the future,” Patrick finalises. “Meanwhile, my job is to make sure we, as a nation, know there is a real problem when it comes to violent extremism, but that there are solutions out there to address the growing problem, and that Life After Hate is one of the leading solutions available.”