SuEllen Fried is a prison reform activist, speaker and author, who has spent more than three decades working to bring about healing and transformation in America’s prisons. The highly successful rehabilitation program developed by her organization, Reaching Out From Within, has been adopted by every prison in Kansas and three in North Carolina. Recidivism rates drop to 8 percent for inmates who attend 60 or more meetings with Reaching Out From Within.
Dubbed the “prison grandma” in a segment on Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, SuEllen is known for her soft-spoken but firm style and steadfast belief that anyone can transform their lives for good. She is rarely seen without her Power of Kindness button.
SuEllen has presented at TedX Topeka and was featured in a Steve Hartman segment on CBS Evening News. She has also spoken at numerous conferences about the need for criminal justice reform.
SuEllen has been honored with numerous awards for her social justice work, including being the 900th Daily Point of Light Award honoree. In 2015, she received distinction as a L'Oréal Paris Women of Worth honoree, using her award to fund a portrait photography exhibit called Faces of Change. The exhibit premiered at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and featured portraits of inmates in the Reaching Out From Within program, shot by photographer Nick Vedros. It was recognized by American Photo Magazine as one of the top 10 photo exhibits in the country.
Also known for her work in the anti-bullying arena, SuEllen has co-authored three books on bullying prevention. She organized the pilot chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America in 1976 and remains a life board member. As an anti-bullying advocate, she has appeared on Good Morning America, the Today Show, MSNBC, and in the A&E documentary “Bill Kuris Reports: Bullied to Death.”