Born in Laguna Beach, California in 1960, Alison Armstrong has been designing and leading transformational programs for adults for almost 40 years. In 1995, after four years of studying men for her personal benefit, she created the Celebrating Men, Satisfying Women workshop to share her extraordinary findings with women across the nation. With her friend Joan McClain, a banking executive, she founded PAX Programs Incorporated with the mission of “altering society’s culture by transforming the way women relate to men.”
No stranger to revolutionary initiatives, in 1990 Alison founded the Orange County Summit for Children, a bold project described by the Presiding Judge of the Orange County Juvenile court as one which, “has forever altered the way children’s issues in Orange County are addressed.” (LA Times) For 2½ years, Alison provided the vision and inspiration in persuading representatives of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and philanthropic foundations to align and cooperate in serving the needs of Orange County children.
As chairperson of the Orange County Homeless Issues Task Force (OCHITF) from 1989 to 1991, Alison managed strategic planning and implementation of unique multi-agency projects. She chaired the Task Force Research Committee, creating an unprecedented alignment between Orange County demographers and University of Irvine sociologists to produce and publish a comprehensive study of homelessness in Orange County. During her chairmanship, the OCHITF was named by the Orange County Grand Jury as “the most effective organization addressing homelessness in Orange County.”
“Half the homeless in Orange County are children. And the root of homelessness for many adults lies in childhood – things that didn’t happen that should have, like learning to read; and things that shouldn’t have happened but did, like abuse. In 1994, my personal compulsion to understand men converged with my personal and professional commitment to children. I realized one of the best ways I can help children is by altering the way their parents relate to each other. By shifting those relationships from the adversarial context we inherited, to the partnerships that are now possible, parents can create home environments in which their children flourish.” Alison continued, “We receive wedding announcements and baby pictures with thank you notes saying ‘this wouldn’t have been possible without your work’, and I think they’re wonderful. But I am moved to tears when I hear about a family that was restored or a divorce that was prevented.”
“I’m asked that a lot,” Alison laughs. “Actually, I am a college drop-out with an obsession for understanding the way things work. My father is an engineer. I think I inherited his brain but I apply it to people and relationships.” Alison regrets her lack of education: “Sometimes I am painfully aware of my ignorance. I don’t understand poetry, I’ve never read the classics, and my geography is terrible.” But, she adds, “They don’t have degrees for what I want to know. You can get a degree in Women’s Studies from many universities but not one offers one in the study of men!” She notes, “Some of our biggest fans are psychotherapists, for themselves personally and for their patients. They also wish they could have studied in college what we offer.” Does Alison ever intend to pursue a degree? “I think about it. I would love to study biological anthropology. Meanwhile, I’ll cherish the honorary doctorate I received from ‘Prager University’ when I was on Dennis Prager’s show on KRLA in January 2004.”
Alison was married to Greg from 1993 until his passing in 2019. People often commented on their marriage, assuming they must be newlyweds. “Greg and I sometimes made people uncomfortable, although we didn’t mean to. I just had the worst crush on him.” And she adds with a smile, “Greg said he worshipped the water I walk on.”
Referred to as “my Renaissance man,” Greg was an important part of her research and support system, and was the central element of their family as “an amazing father.” Their 2 daughters and Alison’s son are living independent lives in Arizona and Texas.
Alison now lives in rural Western Colorado with her Border Collie, her “ponies” and a host of wild critters. She loves to ride, drive, hike and work with her tractor.