Irene van der Zande

Kidpower’s Founder and Executive Director

Irene van der Zande empowers millions of people worldwide to take charge of their safety

Irene is the Founder and Executive Director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, the internationally-recognized global nonprofit leader in ‘People Safety’ education, providing effective and empowering solutions to bullying, abuse, sexual assault, and other harmful behavior through online and live workshops as well as through print publications and digital resources.

Since 1989, Irene has inspired an international movement of leaders, reaching millions of people of all ages, abilities, cultures, identities, and walks of life with the knowledge and skills they need to take charge of their safety.

As a result of Irene’s ongoing leadership and collaboration, Kidpower has earned an outstanding reputation for developing, organizing, and presenting high quality child protection, positive communication, advocacy, self-defense, and personal safety programs and curriculums both in-person and online. She is a proven expert at adapting Kidpower’s services and programs to meet the needs of those facing increased risk of violence and abuse because of disabilities, poverty, and prejudice.

As Kidpower’s expert lead author, Irene places time-tested life-saving skills and lessons directly into the hands of parents and professionals. Her work has gained world-wide acclaim from experts in education, law enforcement, and health for being upbeat, experiential, age-appropriate, emotionally safe, trauma-informed, and relevant in today’s often-challenging times. Kidpower lessons have been presented in over 20 languages, across six continents. Kidpower trainings attract participants from around the globe.


Irene is an inspiring, passionate, and entertaining speaker, trainer, and storyteller who is a master at preparing people to transform problems into successful practices; to take charge of their safety and well-being; and to develop joyful relationships that enrich their lives.


Irene’s Professional Accomplishments

  • Internationally-recognized social-emotional safety skills expert on designing and implementing in-person and online programs that protect kids, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, abuse, harassment, domestic and relationship violence, assault, and abduction.  These skills also prepare individuals to develop safe and strong relationships that reduce isolation and increase happiness – and to take charge of their emotional and physical well being. 
  • Leader of the development of the effective and empowering curriculum, services, instructor training programs, and organization of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International.
  • Instructor who has  taught thousands of people of all ages, abilities, cultures, identities , and beliefs both in-person and online.
  • Trainer of thousands of parents, educators, mental health professionals, health care providers, law enforcement experts, martial artists, community leaders, and social workers on how to use Kidpower’s “Turning Problems Into Practices” method in their professional activities, schools, families, and communities.
  • Consultant, trainer, and mentor for a wide range of nonprofits, businesses, and professionals in organizational development, leadership, personal safety, and conflict resolution.
  • Author of many books, articles, and educational resources on child development, parenting, personal safety, child protection, and self-defense.
  • A dynamic and inspiring speaker known for making presentations experiential as well as informative by incorporating demonstrations and practices of skills tailored for her audiences’ specific needs.

Photo of Irene teaching Kidpower in an elementary classroom

Photo of Irene teaching a child protection workshop for professionals

TV interview with Irene about Kidpower's Bullying Solutions

Irene’s Published Works

1984 – “How to Break through Bureaucracy,” in Grassroots Fundraising Journal, Vol. 3, No 6

1987 – 1,2,3…The Toddler Years, published by Toddler Center Press, 1987, used as an early childhood education textbook, sold over 40,000 copies. Foreword by Magda Gerber.

1987 – “Singing in the Rain,” in Her Wits About Her, published by Harper & Row

1991 – Parent/Toddler Groups: A Model for Early Intervention, published by the Early Childhood Center of Cedars-Sinai Hospital, used as a textbook for mental health and child education professionals

1992 – “Boys Will Be Boys,” in Sexual Harassment: Women Speak Out, published by The Crossway Press

2010 – “‘Beyond “Stranger Danger’- concrete skills for online and personal safety” as a chapter of Courageous Parents, Confident Kids: Letting Go So You Both Can Grow, published by Spark Press

2018 – Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels, co-written with Amy Tiemann, PhD., published by Spark Press.  #1 Bestselling book on Child Safety, Parenting, and Adult Leadership in the #MeToo Era.

1991- Present – Books, articles, newsletters, training manuals, and other educational materials as the primary author for Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International including,

Irene is currently working on a new book:

Face Bullying With Confidence: Creating Cultures of Respect and Safety for All Ages and Stages of Life