by Kelly Powell

When I met Sue Lambert, it was over a pixelated, late-night Google Hangout in an attempt to hear a few things about the Enneagram. I was referred to Sue by Susan Olesek, the founder of the Enneagram Prison Project, whom I initially reached out to for an interview. With her busy schedule, Susan was unavailable, but she was gracious enough to point me to Sue, who might have a few more moments to talk. And talk, we did. Although she was in California and I, in Ohio, we found time two nights in a row where she could tell her story and I could listen to it. Thus, a connection was formed. I learned so much about Sue’s difficult, but redeeming, past, and I wrote about it here.

After my story was turned in for class, I thought I would turn in, too. Little did I know, this was only the first part. The Enneagram is often referred to as a journey, and this was no exception. Shortly following my published piece, Sue responded to it an email that turned my heart into a puddle: “Wow, what talent you have.  You are going places girl! I am proud of myself after I read about me in your article. Thank you for helping me to see my own lights. Hugs.” And another email came a few weeks later — one titled “OHIO Here We Come!” Sue would be in Cincinnati the third weekend of July, and she wanted me to come join her.

I had the privilege of attending the International Enneagram Conference on Friday, July 20, where Sue was attending as an ambassador for the Enneagram Prison Project, the organization that turned her life around while incarcerated. Through a series of emails, inclement weather and long drives, I arrived at The Westin Cincinnati ready to learn. What was so telling about the session I attended was the knowledge I gained both during and after the presentation, “Both Sides of the Bars: Teaching the Enneagram to Correctional Staff and Detainees,” presented by Susan Olesek and Jean-Philippe Koopmansch, “the director of a French-speaking staff training center for the penitentiary admission in Belgium.”

When the session was almost at a close, participants were asked to reflect on what brought them to the IEA Conference. For me, it was a journalistic endeavor, and I happened to be in a group with Susanne Gawreluk, the EPP Minnesota Chapter Leader, whom I told all about my motivation. She already knew. She read my story prior to the conference! This was big. She connected with Sue personally and wanted us to meet immediately. When I approached Sue, I knew simultaneously the power journalism and this conference could have. She hugged me right away, and we talked about the progress in her life since speaking over a video call.

Sue has to attend one final sentencing for her crime — even though she has done her time in Santa Clara County Jail and will be the first EPP participant to break the cycle, teaching the Enneagram to incarcerated people herself. She told me she would using my article as proof of her transformation at that final sentencing. Thanks to the IEA Conference, I was able to receive this news in person. The journalistic pay might not be very much, but the emotional payoff is more than I could ever request.

This is a guest post by Kelly Powell who attended the IEA Global Conference in Cincinnati. These are her reflections. Thanks for sending them our way, Kelly! (For her original post, click here).