What TEDx Perryville Correctional Means to Televerde

Earlier this year I wrote about how I’ve always been an avid TED Talk fan and how the idea of TEDxPerryvilleCorrectional came to life at the first TED Conference I attended, TEDWomen 2015.

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

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