Krystal Escobedo Paz

Program Coordinator

Krystall is passionate about working towards our collective liberation in all facets of her life. Her combined personal and professional experiences have brought her to Truth Be Told. With personal experience navigating the criminal injustice system, she has helped others to navigate the world post-release and found her own healing and growth through artistic exploration and a tight-knit community.

Before joining the Truth Be Told team, Krystall worked as a Staff Paralegal at Legal Assistance of Western New York. Her five years there provided a solid foundation in working from a trauma-informed approach. Her most rewarding projects were correcting criminal history records and founding a robust and effective Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee with her colleagues.

From 2018 to 2020, she served as the volunteer director of a latine cultural organization, Cultura Ithaca, through which she organized a variety of cultural events including a six-week writing series for community members. She is also the co-founder of Bien Acompañada Press, a collaborative latine zine, which has published three issues. Several artists included in those issues have gone on to publish their own books of poetry or participate in artist residencies.

Ultimately, Krystall hopes to leave behind a holistic knowledge and practice of healing, tools for understanding our self and our interconnectedness, and plenty of joy, which is the best reprieve from the harshness of life. Krystall graduated from Ithaca College in 2014 with a B.A. in Sociology.

Heather Emerson

Interim Executive Director

In August of 2021, Heather stepped down from the board of Truth Be Told and into the Interim ED role while the hiring committee searches for the perfect replacement to Katie Ford after her 3.5 years at the helm.

Heather has spent the last 15 years rebuilding her life after being incarcerated for one year. Her promise upon release was to grow, be honest, and do good things. She graduated from University of Texas with dual degrees in Mathematics and Linguistics, and in 2020 with her Masters from Harvard University.

Heather is an entrepreneur at heart, co-founding a 5 million dollar Austin-based sustainable business called Prep To Your Door that prioritizes people and planet over profit. Her proudest accomplishment is being invited to the board of Truth Be Told in 2020, and named as Forbes Next 1000 for 2021. Heather was also a finalist for Austin Under 40 Awards in 2020 and 2021, and won the prestigious Austin Women’s Way Award for “Business to Watch.”


Emily Lederman

Program Director

Complementary paths in education and nonprofit leadership have led Emily Lederman to Truth Be Told. A strong believer in the transformative power of storytelling, Emily has taught literature and creative writing classes for adolescents, college students and adults impacted by the criminal justice system.

Prior to joining Truth Be Told, Emily managed community engagement at the nonprofit Grand St. Settlement in New York City, where she completed an American Council of Learned Societies Postdoctoral Public Fellowship. For the agency, she developed an advocacy strategic plan, focused on public housing, immigrant rights and youth leadership. As part of the plan's implementation, Emily led trauma-informed social justice trainings for staff and developed a teen advocacy program. She also built and sustained strategic relationships with public officials, community leaders, nonprofit partners and educational institutions.

While in New York, Emily also had the privilege of serving on a criminal justice reform campaign led by JustLeadershipUSA, an advocacy group that empowers individuals most affected by incarceration to drive policy change.

Emily earned her PhD in contemporary literature at The University of Texas (UT) at Austin in 2016. She has designed and taught college-level courses on social justice and the intersections of gendered and racial oppression. At UT, she facilitated a women’s leadership program in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. Emily also organized and led a weekly creative writing workshop at Travis County Correctional Complex. Prior to graduate school, she worked for the nonprofit Citizen Schools, developing curriculum and managing volunteers.

Emily’s knowledge of literature, gender studies and restorative justice inform her leadership and her commitment to social justice. She views her role at Truth Be Told as powerfully joining together her work in education and the nonprofit sector.

Hilda Rivas

Administrative Assistant

Hilda Rivas is a firm believer in the power of second chances. In 2011, she had the ultimate second chance when she applied and was accepted into Free Minds, a local project that makes higher education accessible to adults with low income. Her dream of continuing her education became a reality when she completed her bachelor’s degree in human services at St. Edwards’ University in 2014.

Previous to joining Truth Be Told, Hilda worked for nearly 10 years with Communities in Schools, beginning as a receptionist and then stepping into the role of wraparound case manager, where she provided direct services to families with complex needs. Her direct-service work with clients helped her realize that social work is her passion. Hilda loves helping women and children find their voices, and she prides herself on building spaces where her clients feel appreciated and empowered.

Hilda is pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Texas State University. She also has an internship at Ending Community Homelessness Coalition. She has nearly 20 years of nonprofit experience, having also worked as an administrative assistant for the American Heart Association and as a program specialist for Central East Austin Community Organization.

Hilary Russell


Hilary Russell has worked as a bookkeeper and staff accountant since 2010. In 2016, she went into business for herself and has since attracted a growing list of for-profit and nonprofit clients. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from St. Edward’s University. When not crunching numbers, Hilary enjoys yoga, painting, hiking, camping, travel and photography.