national Women's
Martial Arts Federation

Meet the NWMAF Board of Directors

Cathy Chapaty: Chair

(Serving 2018–2020)

Primary practice: Taekwondo
Home: Austin, Texas
Personal pronouns: she/her/hers

Cathy Chapaty is a fourth-degree Taekwondo black belt with more than 25 years of martial arts training. An NWMAF member since the mid-1990s, Cathy has been a trainer at two NWMAF Special Training camps; she was named NWMAF Member of the Year in 2011.

In 2006, Chapaty founded Tao of Texas Martial Arts Institute in Austin, Texas, where she specialized in teaching a character development-focused children’s program. She is currently on a teaching sabbatical.

She is the author of No Pouting in the Dojo: Life Lessons through Martial Arts, Sports Planet: Sports Played Around the World, and the forthcoming Searching for Grasshopper: A Martial Artist’s Quest for Peace. In 2012, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea honored Chapaty for her essay on the transformational power of Taekwondo. She has also had dozens of essays and articles published in newspapers, magazines, and newsletters on topics as integrity in sports, anger management, and mentorship through martial arts.

For general questions about the NWMAF, including policies, please send an email to
Karen Brown

Karen C. Brown: Treasurer

(Serving 2016–2019 and previously 1998–2001)

Primary practice: Ai Mute Shotokan
Home: Detroit, Michigan
Personal pronouns: she/her/hers

Karen C. Brown began her martial arts journey in 1979 when she enrolled in a six-week self-defense class taught by Master Jaye Spiro at Mejishi Martial Arts, and decided to stick around. She trained diligently in Ai Mute Shotokan until late 1987, followed by a seven-year hiatus to deal with personal business, and returned in 1994. In 2013, she earned her fourth-degree black belt in Ai Mute Shotokan, and has periodically studied Qi Gong, Yoga, and Modern Arnis. Karen especially enjoys teaching karate in Mejishi’s programs and leading self-defense workshops in the Detroit community.

In 2003, she was honored by the NWMAF with the Coleen Gragen Award of Inspiration.

Karen has served as the NWMAF’s Treasurer since summer 2016, a role she also held from 1998–2001. In 2013, she was a member of the Special Training-Self-Defense Instructor’s Conference host team.

Karen currently works full time as a Fund Development Officer for the City of Detroit, and also serves as an adjunct professor in the University of Detroit Mercy’s Masters of Community Economic Development Program. She’s the proud mom of two adult daughters and loves being a grandma!

For questions about payment, donations, and other financial issues, please send an email to

Katherine NicholsKatherine Nichols: Secretary

(Serving 2018–2020)

Primary Practice: Seido Karate
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Personal pronouns: she/her/hers

Katherine Nichols has been a member of the NWMAF since 1995 and has enjoyed Special Training many times, including the 2018 camp where she was a trainer for the first time.

Ms. Nichols joined the NWMAF board in August 2018. She has been practicing Seido Karate as a student of Sei Shihan Nancy Lanoue and Jun Shihan Sarah Ludden at Thousand Waves in Chicago since 1994, and is a fifth-degree black belt. Ms. Nichols is employed as a staff instructor at Thousand Waves, where she also coordinates its youth program and produces many communications materials.

Before joining the Thousand Waves staff in 2013, Ms. Nichols freelanced for more than 20 years as a graphic production artist. Her formal education is in the fine arts, and she holds a Masters of Fine Arts in painting from Northern Illinois University.

For questions about where to find NWMAF documents and processes, or to submit newsletter articles, please send an email to

Natalie DeMaioribus: Events Coordinator

(Serving 2018–2020)

Home: Madison, Wisconsin

For questions about Special Training and other national events, please send an email to

Erin EppersonErin Epperson: Development Coordinator

(Serving 2016–2019)

Primary Practice: Seido Karate/Empowerment Self-Defense
Home: Chicago, Illinois
Personal pronouns: they/them/theirs

Erin Epperson joined the NWMAF in 2014. They are currently a second-degree black belt in Seido karate. Erin taught kids’ karate for Thousand Waves 2014-2019, and as an NWMAF-certified Self-Defense Instructor, they have taught Empowerment Self-Defense both through Thousand Waves and independently since 2012.

Erin is co-owner and co-leader of Culture of Safety, LLC, a small woman and queer-owned business dedicating to creating cultures of safety through empowerment self-defense, assertivness, and mindfulness trainings for kids and adults throughout Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Erin is the primary kids and teens instructor for Culture of Safety, which they co-run with their partner Amy Jones, LSW. Outside of Culture of Safety, Erin volunteers with the Adapted Seido Karate program (A.S.K.), which serves youth with disabilities, and is pursuing opportunities to volunteer with Apna Ghar, a local domestic violence shelter and organization that specializes in supporting immigrant and refugee survivors.

Erin earned their PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations in 2017 with a focus on Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Erin practices and teaches Samatha meditation, a practice that has roots in Indian and Thai Buddhism. They teach a weekly Samatha class as part of the Samatha Trust on the North Side of Chicago, and use meditation techniques to help self-defense students enhance their emotional regulation skills.

Do you have an idea for raising money for the scholarship, archives, or general operating funds? Have questions about merchandise availability and suggestions for new merchandise? Please send to

Carmel Drewes: Membership Coordinator

(Serving 2016–2019)

Primary practice: Seido Karate/Empowerment Self-Defense
Home: Stoughton, Massachusetts
Personal pronouns: she/her/hers

Carmel Drewes has been an NWMAF member since 2001, when she attended her first Special Training. She has a second-degree black belt in Seido karate (2016) and a black belt in Kyokushin karate (2004). Carmel trained at Sun Dragon Martial Arts & Self Defense NFP in Austin, Texas—first with Sensei Suzanne Pinette, then with Sensei Joy Williamson. In 2016 she moved to Massachusetts, where she now runs a small Seido karate program and teaches Empowerment Self Defense.

Carmel is a clinical social worker, specializing in trauma healing work with immigrant and LGBTQ* communities, and is an ESOL (English as a second language) teacher.

For questions about your membership, regional activities, and opportunities to serve on committees, send an email to

Darla BolonDarla Bolon:  Self-Defense Coordinator

(Serving 2018–2020)

Primary practice: Empowerment Self-Defense
Home: Columbus, Ohio
Personal pronouns: she/her/hers

Darla Bolon has been an NWMAF member since the mid-1980s. Darla began studying martial arts and self-defense in 1982. She holds a black belt in Taekwondo. After 15 years training in Taekwondo and Aikido, Darla chose to focus primarily on developing skills in Empowerment Self-Defense (ESD).

As an NWMAF-certified self-defense instructor, Darla has been a co-coordinator of the NWMAF’s Self-Defense Instructor’s Conference. She helped lead the model course for the conference in 2009, and today is one of several reviewers of applications for NWMAF self-defense instructor certification.

Darla teaches a 14-week Self-Defense for Women class as an adjunct professor at Ohio State University, and also teaches self-defense and personal safety classes all over Ohio for caseworkers and other employees of child welfare agencies.

Darla is a clinical social worker, helping trauma survivors, people experiencing anxiety and depression, and those impacted by other life stresses. She has found that there are many points of intersection and harmony between social work and ESD.

For questions about your self-defense training and certification, and opportunities to serve on committees, please send an email to

Healing Arts Coordinator

The Healing Arts Coordinator shall represent the interests of NWMAF members who practice solely or primarily healing arts.

Youth Coordinator

The Youth Coordinator shall represent the interests of NWMAF members under the age of 25, and will work closely with the Membership, Events, and Development Coordinators to ensure that youth members have an active voice and presence throughout the NWMAF. Candidates for this position must be between the ages of 18 and 25 at the beginning of their prospective term.

Leaders of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) are everyday martial artists and self-defense and healing arts practitioners, just like the majority of the organization’s members. Get to know them, and consider becoming a leader yourself. As a member-driven organization, we need you. Your leadership and voice are important!

Serving on the NWMAF Board of Directors is a rewarding and fulfilling job. 

  • Meet and collaborate with your  peers.
  • Gain organizational skills at the national and even international level.
  • Learn to think and plan nationally and globally.
  • Provide a service not found anywhere else in the world.

For complete job descriptions, view the NWMAF Bylaws.

To apply for any board position, send an email to

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The National Women's Martial Arts Federation is a non-profit organization.
Mail: NWMAF, 9450 SW Gemini DR, Beaverton, OR 97008-7105
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