Nathalie Sorrell, co-founder of Truth Be Told, is a “show and tell” woman, commissioned minister to women and a passionate personal and spiritual growth advocate. In February 2000, a GEO Lockhart Prison warden’s desire to have female inmates tell their stories to juveniles on probation, in combination with Nathalie’s background in Toastmasters and experience in creating, leading and speaking at women’s retreats, resulted in the development of the first Talk to Me Speaking class. Her husband of 40 years, Jim Walsh, became the first supporter of TBT, and has continued to support TBT as donor and Nathalie as chief listener and advisor. Nathalie has a daughter, Sarah Orman, whose family lives in Austin, and a son, Devin Walsh, whose family lives in Asheville, NC.
From 2000-2010, Nathalie shifted her focus as a commissioned minister and retreat leader of church ladies like herself to creating healing and truth telling programs for women in prison. She exercised her “take charge” qualities, as the visionary leader of TBT when TBT became a non-profit in 2003; the Behind Bars coordinator (liaison with prison officials, calendar keeper, driver of carpool, emcee for orientations and graduation programs) until 2010 at Lockhart prison. Meanwhile, as a natural networker, she invited everyone who seemed interested to come participate at Lockhart. With Carol Waid, a writing buddy who shared her respect for 12-step spirituality, the program increased from one class to 3 Talk to Me Classes, Exploring Creativity Workshops, and the God in Human Form program. In Fall of 2010, Carol and Nathalie took the TTM Speaking and Circle classes to TDCJ’s Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, where they still facilitate those classes and train other new facilitators. Nathalie remains committed to Truth be Told as a volunteer, though her active participation in the organization has limits now that she’s an active grandmother and spending time with her mother with Alzheimer’s. She’s also active in her radical little church, Journey Imperfect Faith Community and practicing her own 12-step spirituality in all aspects of this beautiful, full life.
Carol Waid, co-founder is currently serving as Truth Be Told’s Behind and Beyond Bars Program Director. Though never incarcerated, Carol believes that she had been serving a life sentence imprisoned by chaos and reactivity to daily survival until she found a way to freedom through 12-step programs. Nathalie’s invitation sounded in her ears like a call to service, which 12-step programs strongly suggest. Her tentative yes led her to come share her story with the women of Lockhart prison in spring of 2000. Carol’s life had many elements of the lives of women behind bars. This shy, curious woman, mother of two adult children, gifted writer and seeker who was looking for meaningful work to be involved in, had no idea that meeting women in prison would be the threshold that she needed to step over. She has become a woman with purpose, passion, and healing gifts, who is willing and able to give back what has been given to her.
She exercised her introvert’s love by being in the background, doing many tasks that keep everything functional while she assisted Nathalie in her Talk to Me class. Carol did not foresee that her “behind the scenes” duties, as well as her hands on involvement inside the classroom, would lead her to stepping out of her comfort zone and into her very own classrooms. Carol became the first facilitator for Talk to Me Circle, in the fall of 2002. Then, a new programs Warden invited Carol to create a class for women who have been given a release date, and who often experience the self-defeating phenomenon of “short timing.” That class became the Let’s Get Real: Short Timing Class, which helps women not sabotage themselves before they even get out of prison, teaches community support for each other, and prepares them emotionally for re-entry.
Carol is passionate about the Behind Bars Programs and she feels blessed by the interaction with the women she meets each semester at the GEO Lockhart Unit and the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville, TX. She is also very passionate about our Beyond Bars Programs and the continued community support that Truth Be Told is seeking to grow. Carol’s passion reflects on her face when she shares stories about the women that call TBT to talk about their first hours and days of living in the “free world.” It also shows her concern when she hears from these women how the pink cloud has lifted and the “free world” feels daunting, lonely, and dark. Carol finds comfort in the community that TBT brings to all the facilitators, as well as our community Behind & Beyond Bars.
Suzanne Armistead, our 3rd cofounder, a dance artist and life coach, was invited to lead an Exploring Creativity session in late 2001. In that experience, she also felt drawn to this creative experiential community, and joined the team. Suzanne encouraged Carol to create a Talk to Me Circle class for shyer women who love to write, and supported her for a semester. Then Suzanne developed Talk To Me – Movement, the third in the Talk To Me series. At a warden’s request, Suzanne also created Show Me Spirit! a movement and creativity class that reached out to inmates who couldn’t enroll in the Talk To Me program. The last big thing Suzanne did to move Truth be Told forward was introducing us to the CPA who helped us fill out our papers to become a non-profit in November of 2003. Due to personal reasons, Suzanne left the prison work in 2004, but her legacy lives on in the Talk to Me Movement Classes, Exploring Creativity workshops, and in Nathalie and Carol’s hearts and bodies – which Suzanne always paid attention and responded to. Now Carol and Nathalie are both very aware of the hugely significant part women’s bodies play in storing trauma (like most of the women with PTSD in the prison) and in releasing past pain through movement as well as truth telling and writing. Now all facilitators and class members learn to MOVE forward physically as well as emotionally, intellectually and spiritually through pain and joy, as Suzanne always has done!