TEDxPerryville Correctional Experience: Brains, Beauty, Business, Beyond

TEDxPerryville Correctional Experience; Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business & Beyond

In the video below, Michelle Cirocco speaks with Troy Hayden of FOX10 News as she discusses TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional, how the idea was born, the work completed to bring it to life, and the impact this event brings to the community. Michelle also joined Kerry O’Shea Gorgone on the Marketing Smarts Podcast to discuss Televerde’s business model and the TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional event held inside the prison facility.

In April of 2018, many members of Televerde participated in building and delivering a one-of-a-kind TEDx experience built around the theme: Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business & Beyond. The goal of the event, much like the business of Televerde, challenged people to truly look behind the curtain, to set aside preconceived notions and stereotypes, and to see people, places and problems through a completely different lens.

As a purpose-driven company specializing in accelerating the sales pipeline and generating demand for companies around the world, Televerde provides education, job training and opportunity for women while they are incarcerated and after release.

We invite you to watch the talks these amazing women in orange gave during the TEDx conference. It is because of their courage and willingness to share their personal, moving, and inspiring journeys of transformation that TEDxPerryville Correctional will be remembered and celebrated for years to come.

TEDxPerryville Correctional Playlist

Prior to Dominique Goodmond’s incarceration people would label her as smart, talented and determined. Driven and ambitious, she moved to Arizona to obtain another degree that would enable her to accomplish her goal of becoming a professor at HBCU College. After an accident that derailed her path, she ended up incarcerated. Immediately, the labels others placed on her changed into liar, manipulator, and criminal. Dominique tried screaming to the world that she was so much more, but no one could see beyond her orange outfit. She understood why others felt this way, having carried with her the same preconceived notions when entering Perryville. Having gone through this experience she’s now enlightened with the education, talent and worth of the women within these walls.

Co-dependent from a young age, Erica Munoz stumbled into a life of abuse, promiscuity and hardship. She addressed the issue of sexual abuse and prostitution head on in a presentation. She spoke candidly about how a feeling of brokenness and survival led her down a dark path of selling her own body. A path that began at 7-years-old, when home molestation began. Her difficult and unimaginable journey is now one of redemption, resilience and inspiration. Seeking the love she never had from her parents, she yearned for a relationship to heal her broken past. A mother of three beautiful boys, she fought to succeed and keep her head above water in a world against her. Suffering through a lifetime of abuse-sexual, physical and emotional, Erica felt isolated from society, living a life she dreamed to escape. With no one willing to listen, to truly understand, she stayed. The abuse, a constant dark cloud, consumed her life until it became a storm that she could no longer run from. In the end she failed herself, her children and went down a dark path leading to her incarceration. Driven to leave Perryville as the best version of herself, she leaned on her faith and changed her life. The reason her continuous transformation is possible is because she was given the opportunity and the support needed (empathy, education and job training) to change. When this happens, people begin to really see their worth and place in the world. And with that realization comes healing and they can rebuild their lives.

Valerie Ochoa entered Perryville with no prior business acumen and zero experience in the sales and marketing industry. She never imagined the future ahead of her included being a successful sales leader from behind bars. It was at Televerde that she discovered her natural ability to sell.  Valerie describes the pros of utilizing a correctional workforce and the potential she recognized in herself because of this opportunity. “Not only do I believe in myself, but I know that anything is possible and there are no limits on what you can accomplish if you put your mind to it.” Televerde graduate Valerie Ochoa shares how she became a successful sales leader behind bars, while making an impact on client success… underscoring both ROI for clients, and ROP within Televerde’s second-chance business model. ROI is an important way to measure business success. So is ROP (Return on Purpose). When we invest in a disempowered community, there’s an additional return – purpose: people lifted up, lives transformed, and communities strengthened.Televerde graduate Valerie Ochoa shares how she became a successful sales leader behind bars, while making an impact on client success…underscoring both ROI for clients, and ROP within Televerde’s second-chance business model. Valerie Ochoa was interviewed by FOX10 about the living environment inside the walls of Perryville.

Incarcerated since the age of 22, Christy S. did not let that deter her from being the best mother she could be, from the inside out. Missing some of life’s most important moments were never easy. Instead of letting her situation envelop her, she decided she would stay strong for her children by living a productive life behind bars. This included getting her G.E.D., working a steady job for more than 10 years to be able to financially support her three children and being a mentor for women struggling with a similar predicament.

Yasiman Esmaeili shares how she unknowingly created her own misery and depression for years. Once incarcerated, she invested the time to figure out why she acted and thought the way she did. As it turns out, spending time in prison has been pivotal to her personal growth and self-discovery. It is in prison that she’s learned the power that her thoughts carry. It is in prison that she’s changed her old ways of thinking.

Sheena Knox gives up a glimpse inside the country’s forgotten communities. Her powerful storytelling gives us insight into her misfortunes but leaves us with seeds of hope and a call to action for our inner cities. Sheena is not merely interested or concerned with community building; this is her passion. She calls this her life’s purpose and she will continue to be the fierce advocate for community building.

More TedX Perryville Articles

When Women Lead: A Panel Discussion Inside Perryville Prison

Originally published May 3, 2019 by Kellie Walenciak

Our company will host its first ever women’s leadership panel discussion to address the variety of challenges that women often face in the workplace. The event, When Women Lead: Transforming the Workplace Through Strength & Compassion, will be held on Thursday, May 16, 9 a.m. at the Perryville Correctional Facility in Goodyear, Arizona.

For those of you unfamiliar with what Televerde does, we help global B2B organizations generate demand and accelerate sales through a combination of strategic data solutions, marketing technology and highly skilled sales professionals. Now let’s talk for a moment about our highly skilled sales professionals.

Since our inception in 1994, we’ve been providing education and career opportunities for incarcerated women both while in prison and after release. We operate nine call centers, four of which are staffed entirely by female inmates at the Department of Corrections at Perryville and one that’s staffed by female inmates at the Department of Correction at Rockville (Indiana). Today, 70% of our 600+ global workforce is incarcerated.

For this reason, a Women’s Leadership Panel inside the walls of Perryville prison just makes sense.

The idea came about as a way to connect our ladies on the inside to strong, compassionate female leaders in tech. Building professional networks is so important and there are many powerful lessons to be learned when we listen to the journeys of others. All of us have had missteps, setbacks and obstacles. But with courage, a willingness to learn, and resilience, we overcome them and end up being better for each experience.

During the two-hour event, panelists will answer questions about their careers, overcoming obstacles, what led them to their current positions, greatest lessons learned, and how to lead in male-dominated fields. They’ll address the changing roles of women in the workplace and each will leave behind one piece of practical advice that will help and inspire our ladies as they continue building their professional brands.

We’ve asked 60 Televerde-Perryville women to join us for the live event and will share photos, live tweets and video highlights across our Televerde social media channels. This will be the first of many events we’ll host in the future to enable business leaders to experience the talent and potential that exist behind prison walls.

What TEDx Perryville Correctional Means to Televerde

Originally published July 27, 2018

In April of this year, the team delivered a one-of-a-kind TEDx experience built around the theme: Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business and Beyond.

The theme, much like the business of Televerde, challenged people to truly look behind the curtain, set aside preconceived notions and stereotypes and see people, places and problems through a completely different lens.

As a purpose-driven company, Televerde provides jobs, training and education for women while they are incarcerated, as well as opportunities to build a meaningful and rewarding career after their release. The evolution of the Televerde business model to what it is today, a B2B demand gen and sales solutions company employing over 650 people around the world, was the brainchild of CEO, Jim Hooker.

From the very beginning Jim saw the potential of the women in the correctional facilities and knew that through immersive sales training similar to what he’d experienced at his early days at IBM, the women could develop exceptional sales skills. Skills that could provide great value to customers, as well as enable them to become successful salespeople and business professionals after their release.

After almost 25 years. Jim’s vision is a reality. The TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional team wanted to share his idea of “thinking outside the box” to remove the stigma and enable a better life by providing jobs to convicted felons.

It was a privilege to see Jim deliver this talk in person. Jim’s talk embodies not only TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional, but the Televerde spirit.

Jim Hooker, who served as Televerde President and CEO from 1995 to 2018, knew that while we all may be created equal, we’re not born equal. We’re automatically categorized by society based on our background and/or circumstances. For many, these categories last a lifetime and are near impossible to change. This is even more true for those being released from prison in the United States. Regardless of their crime, their intellect, or their spirit, they are categorized into a single checkbox: a criminal. These individuals are withheld from working in favorable jobs or moving into thriving communities. For many, this categorization lasts a lifetime and is near impossible to change.

As Jim said, “I believe we can all rethink how we look at those incarcerated. Discarding people for the rest of their lives, based on a decision they made on the worst day of their life, is such a waste of human potential.” It is my hope that you will consider this an “idea worth spreading” and will share it with your friends and family and will of course “think outside the box” next time.

This talk was given at a TEDx event, TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional, using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community in 2018.

Behind the Curtain: Why I wanted to bring TEDx to Perryville

Originally published April 2, 2018 by Michelle Cirocco

I’ve always been an avid TED Talk fan and attended my first TED Conference, TEDWomen, in 2015. There, I fortuitously met a woman who had been brought on board to support TEDx in correctional facilities. This is what sparked the idea of TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional.

The women of the all-female Perryville Prison Complex holds a special place in my heart and I knew immediately that I wanted to bring TEDx to Perryville. I know first-hand the motivation the women of Perryville have and knew this would be an amazing experience in which to have them participate. TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional quickly became my passion project.

Televerde, along with our clients, know the potential that exists within Perryville, as do a handful of other local-Arizona companies including Hickman’s Family Farms and Papa John’s. These companies are providing incarcerated women with marketable skills that they can use upon release. They’re helping them to find career opportunities, not just jobs, when they leave Perryville, and in turn are helping the State of Arizona with its move to reduce recidivism rates.

Knowing that we’ve all experienced some sort of prejudice in our lives, we’ve built the theme of TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional to look behind the curtain and see the good that comes from someone’s journey of transformation – Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business and Beyond. At the event, we’ll address topics surrounding societal issues, education and family and show the transformation and incredible journeys that are taking place before our eyes.

For the past several months, I’ve gladly spent my ALL of my free time working on TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional. Like I said, this is my passion project, and it’s also one I share with others including an amazing team of ladies at Perryville, other members of our Televerde team, the greater Arizona business community and the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Together, with the support of Warden Currier and her team, we’ve been working to create not just a stellar event, but a thoughtful and transformative one. My hope is that attendees walk away with a new understanding of what it means to change; that the preconceived notions and, yes, prejudices they had when they walked into the Perryville Complex are challenged and (hopefully) changed.

TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional 2018 Speakers & Performer Joey Cook

American Idol finalist, Joey Cook, will perform specially selected songs throughout the event. Speakers for the event will address ideas relating to the theme, “Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business and Beyond.” Confirmed speakers include:

“We are so proud of the speaker line-up we’re pulling together. Each of our speakers have their own big idea to share that supports our theme of looking behind the curtain to see the good that comes from someone’s journey of transformation,” said TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional Conference Co-Organizer Michelle Cirocco.

TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional is only the third TEDx event to be held in a female prison and the first to be held in an Arizona prison. The theme, “Behind the Curtain: Brains, Beauty, Business and Beyond” has been carefully crafted by a joint group of business leaders from the greater Phoenix-area and female inmates representing the Perryville prison complex, part of the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).

TEDWomen 2015: Inspiring Talks that Ignite Change

Originally published July 1, 2015

“Sometimes in life you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to have the combination of moments and interactions come together to reframe your view of the world and ultimately your platform of action in an amazing and powerful way.” -Michelle Cirocco

At Televerde, we provide a lot of services, from B2B demand generation to marketing automation consulting, data quality and more. But our business isn’t just about marketing and sales solutions—we strive to make the world a better place and inspire positive change in people’s lives. Our VP of Client Success, Michelle Cirocco, recently had the opportunity to attend the TEDWomen 2015 Conference in Monterey, California and left inspired with an even greater passion and commitment for her work at Televerde.

TED is a conference centered on sharing knowledge and igniting change around the world, and TEDWomen showcases the women and men who are a part of this story and are forging our future in business and society. With so many insights, ideas and inspirational stories from TEDWomen 2015 that can be applied to all aspects of life, below are some of Michelle’s favorite highlights from the powerful talks at the conference.

1. Margaret Heffernan: “Companies don’t have ideas, only people do…”

Forget about “superchickens” and focus more on social cohesion! Margaret Heffernan challenges the way we think about work and leadership and what drives high-achieving teams. She presented studies that showed more productive groups did not have higher IQs or a star leader, but rather had a high degree of social sensitivity, were not dominated by a single voice, and had MORE women. Ideas flow more freely when a culture of helpfulness exists. As Heffernan says, “Companies don’t have ideas, only people do. And what motivates people are the bonds of loyalty and trust they develop around each other.”

2.     Aspen Baker: “Empathy is created when we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes…”

Aspen Baker spoke of the importance of listening and storytelling, and her ideas can be applied to any area of one’s life. Asking open-ended questions, being a good listener, using reflective language, and sharing stories are key to having meaningful conversations. “Empathy is created when we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes. It doesn’t mean we have to end up in the same place,” Baker says.

3.     Linda Cliatt-Wayman: “If you’re going to lead, lead.”


As a school principal at a low income, low-performing school in North Philadelphia, Linda Cliatt-Wayman has learned a lot about leadership and success with three principles that were paramount in her journey. First, “if you’re going to lead, lead,” meaning you have to take responsibility and personally ensure what needs to be done is being done. Second, “So what? Now what?” Although the school she led had a host of problems, they weren’t going to be solved by making excuses—she had to take action to fix them. Her third slogan was, “If nobody told you they loved you today, you remember I do, and I always will.” She shows her deep compassion for her students and her unwavering belief in their potential. That is what really makes her a powerful leader.

4.     Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin: “Women’s friendships are like a renewable source of power.” 

From 9 to 5 to their new show Grace and Frankie, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s friendship has spanned several decades. Fonda and Tomlin took the TED stage to discuss the importance of female friendships and the strength women gain from them. Women typically have close relationships with each other, which allows them to have full disclosure and vulnerability. These relationships are “like a renewable source of power,” according to Fonda, and may even be the reason women live longer than men.

5.     Jimmy Carter: “The best thing that we can do today is for women in powerful nationswho have influence and freedom of speech to take the responsibility to be more forceful and demanding.”

Former president Jimmy Carter spoke about the hardships women around the globe face. “The number one abuse of human rights on earth is the mistreatment of women and girls,” says Carter (source: TEDBlog). In the United States, we are seeing an epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, sexual slavery, and excessive imprisonment. Carter said what needs to be done is we need to speak up. Women in powerful nations who have the opportunity to influence others and freedom of speech need to take responsibility to be more forceful and demanding.

At Televerde, we want to do more. Our underlying business model provides second chances to individuals who are disenfranchised within their communities. We provide on-going training, education and gainful employment within our contact centers. This supports their ability to pursue and develop meaningful careers and successful community re-entry. After attending TEDWomen and learning that 7.3 out of 1,000 people in the U.S. are currently incarcerated, we realize we could be helping not only women in Arizona, but men and women around the world.

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