Dearest Friends of Truth Be Told,
After a lot of introspection and truth-telling to myself, I have decided to bring to a close my time as Truth Be Told’s executive director. My last day in the office will be May 28. Truth Be Told has my undivided attention through this date in support of the staff and Board of Directors during this time of transition.
These past three and a half years as executive director have been an incredible experience — one that I could never have imagined for myself. My whole journey with Truth Be Told has been a series of other women seeing potential in me before I could see it. It started in 2009 when I met Truth Be Told graduate Rutanya Mitchner at a Seedling Foundation event, and she invited me to volunteer as a Respectful Witness at a Truth Be Told graduation at Lockhart women’s prison. It continued in 2010 with Truth Be Told co-founder Nathalie Sorrell inviting me to become a volunteer facilitator for the Talk to Me program at Lockhart, and then co-founder Carol Waid inviting me two years later to oversee programs at Lockhart so she and Nathalie could bring Talk to Me to the women on the Hilltop and Lane Murray units in Gatesville. It culminated in 2017 with former Board chair Donna Snyder inviting me to step into the role of executive director.
I feel endless gratitude for each of these women, because their invitations have enriched my life beyond measure. I truly can’t imagine my life without Truth Be Told’s nurturing and influence. With all that said, I want to explain how I arrived at this decision.
When I was plucked out of the facilitator pool and invited to serve as executive director, I had no real idea what the position would entail. I said yes because facilitating Truth Be Told’s Talk to Me program had evoked healing in me and changed my life. I understand firsthand the power of Truth Be Told’s programs and, even more so, I believe in the women who participate in them.
I set out to do two things as the executive director: (1) I wanted to position this long-standing nonprofit and the women in our programs as thought leaders in conversations about justice-involved women. (2) I wanted to take Truth Be Told out of what I called “starving artist mode” by growing its revenue and shifting from a volunteer-reliant model to a paid staff to support programs and operations.
Almost four years later, Truth Be Told has gained significant traction on both of these fronts. Our graduates have spoken at state and national conferences, served on community panels, and addressed university students. Their stories have been at the forefront of our fundraising campaigns and community events, and their voices have helped shape and pass legislation at the Texas Capitol.
On the financial front, Truth Be Told’s operating budget has almost tripled, holding steady at just more than a quarter million. Our community of sustaining monthly donors has expanded sevenfold. And our team of hired hands has grown from 1.5 staff members to 3 full-time salaried positions, 2 hourly positions and 2 paid graduate peer facilitators.
I feel a deep sense of happiness knowing these things occurred during my time as executive director. It took true teamwork to make the dream work. I am proud of myself for saying yes to the invitation in 2017 and laying the groundwork for things I wanted to see happen for this organization I love.
Also, I have come to understand that the executive role ultimately is not for me. In my heart of hearts, I am a writer, a creative freelancer. I am a facilitator who thrives when directly engaged in the healing work. I need to honor who I am, and Truth Be Told taught me how to do this.
So, here we are. It’s time to invite Truth Be Told’s next executive director to build upon what we’ve achieved together.
Change is hard. It’s an inevitable part of life. Yet, instead of worrying about all the “what if’s” that come with a transition, I am daring to imagine how great it will get. The Board of Directors is leading the executive search and will release the official job posting and details on how to apply soon.
I thank you for holding space for my truth-telling today. Truth Be Told has introduced me to so many amazing people these past 11 years. I look forward to our paths crossing in new ways as I begin a new chapter in my own life story. I might be letting go of a title, but Truth Be Told community is forever.
With a deep bow of gratitude.
Love you, Katie, and everything you’ve done for us. i hope that you’ll be able to find the fulfillment you’re seeking. i know i could never do what you’ve done. My strengths lie elsewhere, and i am happy to give back to my TBT community now that i am free. You have been an inspiration to me many times over. i will never forget one night when i came to sign in to class, one of the few nights i almost skipped because i was having a hard time at that time, and you saw me and you knew. You spent a few extra minutes making sure i was going to be okay. i journaled about it when i got back to my dorm because it was so unusual, not for TBT, but just in general, for someone in that circumstance to take time to notice something so subtle. It made a big impression. i know whatever you do next, you will be great at it, and i know that you’ll always have a home here with TBT and us graduates.
Krista, your words bring me to tears because you remind me so vividly of why I fell in love with Truth Be Told’s mission and was willing to do whatever it takes to support the cause. I may be letting go of a title, but the work — and the women I have met through the work — will remain in my heart forever. Thank you for sharing this memory with me. I had no idea. What a gift you are to TBT, to me, and to all your TBT sisters behind and beyond bars. Thanks for choosing to be part of this community. – Katie
We honor all of who you are, Katie, and look with you, to a glowing and exciting future for all. A world where women are not incarcerated to “heal”, but allowed to heal in another more forgiving environment that does not do further harm. YOU are a shining star Katie.
Caren, your vision of the world is one I can fully get behind. Thank you for all your generous support – with time and treasure – over the years. TBT is fortunate to have your heart. – Katie
Katie Ford, though we’ve never met, your story brings happy tears…for what has happened at TBT, for what will happen, and for you to return to “who” you are having learned more about that from TBT. Best wishes!
Leah, thank you for being a steadfast supporter of Truth Be Told all these years and for taking a moment to share how my story affects you. Your words fortify me.