Charity Lee is the daughter of a murdered father, daughter of an acquitted mother, mother of a murdered daughter, and mother of a murderer…
In 1980, her father was murdered in the family home. Her mother was subsequently charged with, tried for, and acquitted of, murder-for-hire in his death.
During her youth and young adulthood, she coped with mental health and addiction issues, experienced the birth of two children, Paris and Ella, and led a predominately successful life.
In 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 of her son, was investigated by the Feds because of physical and sexual abuse of the children in their care.
The Texas Legislature was forced to implement reforms in order to avoid indictment.
Convinced her son was ill and needed treatment, and believing he deserved to be treated with unconditional love and forgiveness, rather than sexually and physically abused by Texas authorities, Charity began to work tirelessly as an advocate on issues related to juvenile justice reform.
Over time she expanded her focus to advocate on behalf of adult prisoners, those on Death Rows 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 only those who suffer the effects of violence.
In spite of living in a world turned inside out and upside down by the loss of both her children, Charity found her calling, which led to the creation of The ELLA Foundation.
ELLA is grounded on the belief that we can support and empower people affected by violence to become effective advocates for good in their own lives; advocates for change in their communities with ELLA: Empathy, Love, Lessons, and Action.
Charity has traveled the US, Canada, and Africa to share her story and example of unconditional love for all, be they criminal or victim, with thousands.
She 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 a prolific public speaker and speaks on a wide range of topics: motherhood, the death penalty, mass incarceration, forgiveness, unconditional love, empathy, empathy training for correctional officers, resiliency, victimization, family trauma, childhood trauma, mental health and faith, addiction and recovery, trauma recovery, and nonprofit management.
Charity is the subject of the award-winning documentary The Family I Had, which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Fest, and has been distributed worldwide and viewed by millions. She is the author of her upcoming memoir, How Now, Butterfly?, that tells the tale of Hell and back.