Arlene Limas: Igniting Change and Empowering People and Organizations for A Safer Living

Chief Executive Officer at PAVE Prevention Proactive Anti Violence Education and Consulting

Things are not the way they used to be say few decades ago. This is not just in broader terms of living standards, social conditions, etc, but also on microlevels. Just like good things have taken a new form, so have the not-so-good things. Violence, for instance, today, is not just about blood and gory. It is also the fear one feels when walking down a dim-lit alley or that second thought one has while uploading a seemingly harmless and funny image of oneself over the internet.

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Violence and abuse have surely changed their forms. This means the way to fight them also needs to be changed. Today, it is not just about looking up to authorities to create a safe society, but about empowering individuals to recognize the kind of violence they are being subjected to and protect themselves from it.

Having found herself very early on witnessing inappropriate behavior, power dynamics, treatment, and abuse, Arlene, a lifelong martial artist, athlete, and coach, has always advocated for safer spaces where athletes and people, in general, could thrive and succeed. Being a doer all her life, Arlene joined PAVE, a global organization whose purpose is to ignite change on the corporate and institutional level by providing access, process, and culture change. Arlene has spent her career advocating for athlete safety on and off the field of play. This commitment to safety advocacy ties in well to her new role as the CEO of PAVE Prevention, where she will continue to fulfill her lifelong commitment to personal safety for individuals worldwide.

Transition from a Player to a Guide

Arlene made history as the first American and the first woman to win a Gold Medal in Tae Kwon Do at the 24th Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, on September 17, 1988. She opened her school, Power Kix Martial Arts, in Stafford in May of 1993, paving the way for other women. Her current 12,500 sq ft facility has been going strong for 30 years.

Arlene Limas

As the CEO of PAVE Prevention, Arlene advocates for personal safety and empowers corporations. She aims to link high-level programming with corporations and organizations, tackling counterproductive work behaviors that can cause low productivity, tardiness, absenteeism, and high turnover. She strongly believes that her years as an athlete and coach have shaped and contributed to her current role. Looking at the company’s planning and goals much like a periodization plan she would set for herself or her team works for them. Also, grasping that it’s about the big goals, not the small wins or losses. “As far as tangible ideas and products, I am so very proud of our proprietary assessment tools and incredible training modules,” she says.

Arlene leverages her expertise, abilities, and achievements to improve the lives of many others as an instructor and entrepreneur. As the CEO of the startup, Arlene’s communication style lands between Intuitive and Personal styles. She loves to collaborate, include, and empower her team. “I feel we are better when we all are contributing,” she asserts.

Creating Safe Workspaces to Boost Productivity and Creativity

PAVE Prevention, a social enterprise aims to change the culture of violence in workplaces by teaching human safety skills. By enabling the individual, focusing on human development, and building fairer and violence-free workspaces, they believe everyone can stop the chain reaction of workplace violence and make safer communities.

Founded in 2021 in the United States of America, its mission is to offer training and consulting services to individuals and organizations – and the communities they serve – on how to prevent, respond, and heal from violent incidents. The founders have long understood that when individuals have the skills and knowledge to establish healthy boundaries, communicate confidently, and handle conflict, companies and communities gain financially and culturally. PAVE’s evidence-based, trauma-informed programming equips employees and members with the skills for better performance, stronger engagement, and healthier work culture.

PAVE Prevention’s objective is to spark change, safety, and leadership among organizations, individuals, and businesses. This is not about the differences. It’s about knowing that you can reach your full potential and succeed feeling safe and secure and because our shared goal is to build better and stronger human relations.

Working on a Deeper Level

Arlene explains that PAVE goes about providing solutions differently. They are trauma-informed, holistic, and deeply based on scenario learning. They aim to train for acknowledgment and awareness of what is happening to us as an individual as we enter into situations. Why is this situation escalating? Is this situation safe just because we know each other?

“I think having panic alarms at desks and on doors are great, better lighting in a parking lot, super, cameras to monitor a building a necessity, but until we empower each individual with a set of, what we call Human Safety Skills we fall short of our safety goals as a society. Learning to set a boundary, using our voice, and understanding the strength of being a good bystander or upstander. Understanding your own trauma, activators, and what an adrenalized response looks and feels like changes everything. It is similar to when an athlete can work through crippling pre-event anxiety. Everything just becomes clearer; you are faster and stronger,” she explains.

PAVE is also using technology to assist with their work. The power of assessments, data collection, and reporting platform have been a game changer for them. It shapes everything, curriculum, trainer approach, and validity of the work. They are also embarking on a partnership with an AI company, Scirevance, that will allow them to stay up-to-date and research at incredible speeds.

The leadership team at PAVE believes that creating diverse and inclusive spaces where people can be their authentic selves is imperative for success. PAVE aims to enable people to perform at their best, while fostering safer practices in their workplaces and communities. Diversity of people, ideas, and experiences enriches organizations. Being inclusive with different thoughts and backgrounds means

more than just expressing or sharing the experiences, but also feeling appreciated for doing so. So, the organization has been created as a multi-generational, multi-cultural, gender-inclusive workspace and they are fortunate to have trainers across the world to serve the communities that they live in.

Dealing with Challenges

When asked about her biggest challenge yet, Arlene says that most athletes and leaders, in general, welcome challenges. She thinks as an athlete, a coach and now leadership with PAVE, just getting folks to acknowledge that we must do better around creating safer spaces is a challenge. It is about changing people’s mindset.

“Everyone acknowledges that violence is happening in private but somehow sees a public discussion as a liability. Safety is a second-tier need just after basic life needs of water, food, and shelter. So, to your question… I am still attacking this challenge and learning every day,” she answers.

She also offers a simple tip that would help people, in their daily lives, to understand their situations and take a step for themselves. She says, “I would offer this tip… ask yourself, what do I want out of this interaction? Where do I want it to go, how will I respond? In a sense, have a game plan. Also, take more time to breathe and ground!”

New Year, New Goals

Arlene and her team are excited for 2024. They have made inroads in municipal sectors that are dealing with violence on a daily basis and are still serving their communities every day. Changing and impacting that culture will be incredibly rewarding. It will also allow them to share that data to encourage more meaningful work for PAVE. “It is my hope that someday in the near future having a good PAVE Score means something, it means that is a great place to work,” concludes Arlene.

“Better alone than in bad company! Integrity is everything!”

Quote: “I believe I have been empowering people through Martial Arts, Exercise, and Sport and now through Consulting and Training in the Workplace.”

Rapid Fires:

1. How would you sum up your 2023: Planting seeds!

2. A Contemporary Leader You Admire: Wow, I have many. I find myself going back to Anita Hill often!

3. A Book/Audiobook you are currently Reading/Listening: The Bonobo Sisterhood

4. Your biggest role model: My parents.

5. Success to you is: creating safe spaces where all individuals can be their authentic selves and contribute to the greater good. Whatever that may be for them.

6. Advise for the Young Entrepreneurs: Find your WHY and chase it! Build it! Also, surround yourself with a great team!