Charity Lee is the Founder and Executive Director of The ELLA Foundation, a 501(c)3 based in Savannah, GA whose mission is to prevent violence and to advocate for human rights through education, criminal justice reform, and victim advocacy.
Charity is the daughter of a murdered father, daughter of an acquitted mother, mother of a murdered daughter, and mother of a murderer.
Her father was murdered, execution style, in the family home in 1981. Her mother was subsequently charged with, tried for, and acquitted of, murder-for-hire in his death. Charity was six years old.
During her youth and young adulthood, she struggled with mental health and addiction issues, experienced the birth of two children, Paris and Ella Lee, and led a predominately successful life.
On February 4, 2007, Charity's 13-year old son, Paris, murdered his 4-year old sister, Ella.
One month after Ella’s murder, the Texas Youth Commission, the juvenile agency that would soon have permanent custody and care of Charity's son, was put under Federal Indictment for the physical and sexual abuse of the children in their care.
Convinced her son was ill and needed treatment, and believing he deserved to be treated with unconditional love and forgiveness, rather than raped and beaten at the hands of Texas authorities, Charity began to work tirelessly as an advocate, first on issues related to juvenile justice reform, which over time expanded to advocating on behalf of adult prisoners, those on Death Row across America, murder victim family members, and victims of family violence.
While to many these populations may appear to have conflicting needs, Charity has learned from her years as a woman defined by violence that once violence has occurred there are no longer “sides”.
There are just those who suffer because violence has finally found them.
In spite of living in a world turned inside out and upside down by the loss of both her children, Charity found her calling, and that led to the creation of The ELLA Foundation.
ELLA is grounded on the belief that we can empower people affected by violence to become effective advocates for good in their own lives and advocates for change in their communities with ELLA: Empathy, Love, Lessons, and Action.
Charity has traveled the US, Canada, and Africa and shared her story and example of unconditional love for all, no matter what they’ve done or had done to them, with thousands.
She speaks in prisons, makes visits to TX Death Row, has been arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court protesting the death penalty, advocates for and supports families of murder victims and families of those who have committed murder, and volunteered hundreds of hours as a Certified Crisis Interventionist with the San Antonio Police Department.
Charity is now in the process of moving The ELLA Foundation from Texas to Savannah, GA, in addition to preparing her memoir on the loss of her children for publication.
Charity is a certified Crisis Interventionist with over 2000 hours volunteer experience, a certified Anger Management Specialist, a certified Theft Addiction Specialist, a certified Seeking Safety facilitator, and has developed numerous evidence-based programs for those affected by violence.
She is also a prolific public speaker and has spoken on topics as far ranging as motherhood, the death penalty, mass incarceration, forgiveness, empathy, and empathy training for correctional officers.
Charity is also the subject of the documentary The Family I Had which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Fest on opening night.
She is available for speaking engagements, panel discussions, class facilitation, keynote address, and is open to ideas and suggestions for more opportunities to spread ELLA's message of Empathy, Love, Lessons, and Action for those affected by violence.
ELLA continues to do what ELLA does best: assist as many people affected by violence and the criminal justice system as possible to find their way, find their voice, find their power, and use that power for good in response to the pain and outrage left behind in the wake of violence.
Please sign up for email updates and contact Charity at firstname.lastname@example.org to book an engagement.