Overview and purpose

SPIDER, LLC was established in 2012 by Dr. Michael Cohen and James Widmar to fill a gap. They realized that most non-military staff (i.e. NGO, researchers, journalists, consultants) had little or no training to protect themselves in risky environments.

At the same time, they saw that existing training fell into 1 of 2 types — ineffective PowerPoint seminars, or inappropriate contexts.

To address these shortfalls, SPIDER was created by uniting seasoned NGO professionals with former members of U.S. Military Special Forces units.

As an International Development professional working in conflict and fragile regions for almost 20 years, they realized that he counted on luck more than anything else to keep safe.

“I didn’t want to wait for my luck too run out. I didn’t want to watch others’ luck run out.”


SPIDER’s management team includes:


Dr. Michael A. CohenDr. Michael A. Cohen, Executive Director, is originally from New York City. He received his PhD in developmental biology from Columbia University and has been working in International Development for almost 20 years. During this time he's worked in over 35 countries as an M&E and research expert.
James WidmarJames Widmar, Director of Training, has been training people from all walks of life to defend themselves from threats for over 20 years. Military, police, SWAT and development professionals working in conflict and "difficult" areas. James breaks down what you "need to know" to give people the skills to survive.