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Ricky  Kidd

Ricky Kidd

I Am Resilience Founder, Inspirational Leader, Author & Advocate


You would probably be incredibly angry after spending nearly a quarter of a century in prison before being exonerated for a crime you didn’t commit. But not Ricky Kidd. Instead, Ricky focused on the positive—no matter how unfairly he was treated. Ricky’s sole post-exoneration focus is to educate and inspire millions of people about resilience in the face of their challenges. Read More >

Ricky now shares his story as a speaker, author and playwright. He has become a symbol of hope—proving that it is possible to find redemption and rebuild one’s life after enduring profound injustice. Today, he is the Founder of I Am Resilience and is currently writing his memoir, In the Face of Injustice, and a children’s book, Storytime.

Ricky has also advocated for the wrongfully convicted nationwide and has even trained prosecutors to avoid wrongful convictions as a criminal justice consultant. His release marked a monumental victory and catalyzed broader discussions on the flaws within the criminal justice system.

Ricky serves as the Philanthropy and Outreach Manager at Missouri Innocence Project and was elected to serve as a member of the Innocence Network Executive Board and the Kansas City DA Community Advisory Board. His unwavering resilience and commitment to justice have earned him numerous accolades and recognition. He has been featured in various media outlets, including documentaries, podcasts and television shows—raising awareness about the urgency of reforming the justice system.

“I was forced to become the light, illuminating everything in sight,” Ricky writes in his book of spoken words. ”I was forced to become the oxygen if ever I was to breathe again.” Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Exonerated but not supported, the wrongfully convicted struggle to heal their wounds

Wrongful Convictions | Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Wrongfully Convicted & Imprisoned for 23 Years | Steve Wilkos

Proving Innocence | The Midwest Innocence Project

After 23 Years Wrongly Imprisoned, Ricky Kidd is Free – and Using His Voice | PBS NewsHour

Vivid Expressions: A Journey Inside the Mind of the Innocent

Speech Topics

Resilience Ready

In a world where everyone finds increased difficulty and challenges daily, it’s no surprise to hear the word “Resilience.” But here’s the thing: Do you really know what resilience is? Do you naturally know how to activate your own, when needed the most? In this powerful presentation of “Resilience Ready,” Ricky walks you through the intimate details of his 23-year wrongful conviction, and how he discovered the five keys to activating his resilience, while also helping you understand how to activate your own. You’ll learn how to be prepared for the storm that will inevitably come your way and always be Resilience Ready.

The Power of One: Leading With Courage & Passion

Can just one person help transform a life or even the world? For Ricky Kidd, the answer is a definite yes—if you learn to be a courageous leader. So, what exactly is a courageous leader? Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn describes it as “an individual who's capable of making themselves better and stronger when the stakes are high and circumstances turn against that person.” And there is no one who fits this description better than Ricky. He spent 23 years wrongfully incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit. For those two decades plus, he never gave up proving his innocence. In the thousands of letters Ricky wrote seeking help, he kept reminding himself that he only needed one person to respond. One person to change his life. Fighting against his wrongful conviction, Ricky lost 11 times before winning his last appeal. His odds of winning were said to be only a one percent chance. Today, he is free and spends his time as a COPD (Cost of Prosecutor’s Decision) trainer, playwright, thought leader and national speaker —fighting to be the voice of those who are voiceless. In this powerful and highly motivational talk, Ricky shares his story, the importance of turning anger into passion, why cultivating relationships with key stakeholders is critical to great leadership and how ordinary actions influence extraordinary change. Ricky's presentation encourages audiences to remember the power of one—even if it is them becoming “the one” themselves.

DEI: The Commonality in Our Differences

At a quick glance, we readily see our differences: White or Black, young or old, dreadlocks or blonde hair, Hispanic or gay. But upon closer observation, we will (most often) have more in common than we think. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) isn't just about showing us how to accept one another or be fair or inclusive. Authentic DEI shows us how we are already alike in more ways than meets the eye. When we realize our commonalities, it helps us set aside our differences—which fosters a mindset and environment that treats others equally and fairly. Ricky Kidd’s account of being wrongfully convicted by an all-white cast but led to freedom by a diverse group displays a powerful lesson.  When we see each other as equals, we will rise to our best selves, accomplish more and achieve equitable outcomes. Ricky helps the audience challenge their perspectives while also moving towards more fair and broader perspectives. Read More >

He also offers solutions on how we can come together and covers: Read Less ^

  • What makes us bias
  • How to counter bias
  • Are you a bias victim?
  • Why diversity matter
  • The better outcome of inclusion

The Miracle of Reconciliation & Forgiveness

It’s hard to imagine a heinous action taken against you, and then finding it within yourself to forgive the person who harmed you. Yet Ricky Kidd has done just that. In this incredibly inspiring talk, Ricky tells the story of being wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit and how he was able to reconcile and forgive the prosecutor who fought against his deserved freedom. Learn how Ricky was able to forgive, become friends and work with the prosecutor to combat other wrongful convictions. Ricky will show you why forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting; and how forgiveness can only happen when lessons are learned. For anyone who has been harmed or wronged, this talk will motivate you to move forward, heal and live the life you deserve.

Standing in Your Greatness

The idea that greatness is first recognized by the world or told by someone other than the person is a fallacy. It wasn’t that way for Michael Jordan, when we saw him score 65 points in one single game or help lead the Chicago Bulls to six championships in his career. The same holds true for the Williams sisters, who slayed on the tennis court year after year. Or for Kansas City Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who dominates in football. Before we ever caught a glimpse of any of these individuals, they had all decided to stand in their greatness. To recognize it first, before anyone else did, to own it as their possession before the media helped share their gifts with the rest of the world. In this motivational talk, Ricky Kidd shares his personal story about standing in his greatness, which ultimately led him to become a national speaker, trainer, playwright and thought leader—all while allowing his audiences to connect with their own stories of greatness. He drives home the point that “potential” must be realized first by themselves before ever being recognized by the world.

Leaders Who Lead Versus Leaders Who Follow

Leadership expert John C. Maxwell once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” And no more does that hold true than for Ricky Kidd. Wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit, Kidd’s fate was in the hands of leaders of all kinds—including himself. Bad leadership caused his wrongful conviction, brilliant leadership ushered him back to freedom and his own strong and determined leadership has brought him center stage as a speaker, author and playwright. In this inspiring keynote, Ricky shares his story of overcoming adversity, not defining himself by his past and how great leadership motivates and inspires others to do more than they ever thought possible. Read More >

You will learn:

  • The type of leadership we often see versus the type we need to be
  • Why quality leadership is critically important—particularly for African Americans and minorities in today’s time. 
  • How to practice anti-racism leadership in the world around us
  • Why activating genuine and deep leadership makes a meaningful difference

Ricky motivates leaders and everyday people to consider the importance of quality leadership and how you can inspire others to be their best—allowing everyone to win. Read Less ^

The Origin of Innocence

According to a report by The Sentencing Project, Black Americans are imprisoned at a rate that is roughly five times the rate of White Americans. Latinx individuals are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 1.3 times the incarceration rate of Whites. And in another report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Indigenous people made up 2.1% of all federally incarcerated people in 2019, larger than their share of the total U.S. population, which was less than 1%. For Ricky Kidd, who was wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years for a crime he didn’t commit, these stats prove that although slavery ended more than 150 years ago, it’s still going strong—just in the forms of prison and laws and policies that favor non-people of color. In this talk, Ricky takes his audience back in time, tracing the journey from the so-called abolishment of slavery to the new slavery, where people of color were routinely accused of a crime with zero opportunity for such a charge to ever be contested fairly, to the civil rights movement and today’s work by diligent lawyers, non-profit organizations and others who are raising claims of innocence for those otherwise believed guilty. Raised claims, raised eyebrows and now Ricky’s lecture offers further insight into just how far back innocent men and women were convicted and the public policies that worked against them.