Shawn Whitsell

Prison and Community Outreach, Strategy

Brief info

Shawn Whitsell is a volunteer teacher and facilitator with the School for Alternative Learning and Transformation at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville, TN. Shawn proudly serves on the Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board and is a member of the Criminal Justice Working Group of Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH). He is also a part of the Nashville New Leaders Council class of 2020. Shawn is widely known in his community as an activist, poet, filmmaker, theatre artist and founder of the Destiny Theatre Experience. He has written, produced and directed a number of theatrical works that address pertinent social issues, ranging from police brutality, mental health and domestic violence to homelessness, childhood trauma and mass incarceration. His one-man show "23/1," which tackles solitary confinement, was recently named Best Blend of Theater and Activism by the Nashville Scene. When he's not performing, Shawn visits high school and college English classes, teaching literacy through spoken word, as a representative of the nonprofit organization Southern Word, Inc. He also teaches drama for Nashville Children's Theatre and Tennessee Women's Theater Project.

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Fritzi Horstman

Founder and Executive Director


Fritzi Horstman is the Founder and Executive Director of Compassion Prison Project. She is a Grammy-award winning producer for her work on “The Defiant Ones”, has been a producer and post-producer on dozens of television projects and documentaries and has directed several films. She believes it is urgent to bring humanity and compassion to those living behind bars and these acts will help transform our society. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Vassar College.

Shawn Whitsell