Ashley is the Director of Girl Engagement for GirlForward, which is a nonprofit dedicated to creating and enhancing opportunities for girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution, and who have resettled in the United States. Ashley is one of the best leaders I have known. She is a great listener, thoughtful, brave, and determined. Not only is she a leader herself, but she is committed to giving leadership opportunities to the girls she works with through GirlForward. Ashley consistently goes above and beyond - spending her weekends with girls doing community canvassing, bringing girls to speaking engagements, and thinking up new ways to show girls they have the potential to be leaders.
“Each story is unique and important.”
Ashley built GirlForward’s Mentoring Program from the ground up. Fresh out of graduate school with limited experience, Ashley joined GirlForward as the first additional hire. In her first year, she did thorough and rigorous research, experimented and got feedback from girls. She quickly changed the Mentoring Program from a loosely held idea into a structured, successful program with a 100% high school graduation rate and 90%+ mentee retention rate. With Ashley at the helm, nearly 90% of girls graduating from the Mentoring Program began going to college. Statistics aside, Ashley’s biggest impact has probably been in the relationships that have formed because of her leadership. Ashley has matched dozens of refugee girls with women mentors. These mentor-mentee relationships have been transformative - both for our girls and for the women who volunteer. Years after girls graduate, we still see that they have kept up their relationships with their mentors.
Ashley believes not only in the potential of each girl, but in each girl’s ability to determine her own future. She is not trying to “save” anyone or dictate their paths; she instead wants to provide each girl with the tools and support she needs to achieve her own goals.
An award of $50,000 would support GirlForward’s Mentoring Program, as this is the heart of Ashley’s work. The award would allow GirlForward to support approximately 120 girls in the Mentoring Program, and will also prepare the organization to launch in a third city.
Because Ashley was not the founder of GirlForward, she has received none of the recognition for GirlForward’s outstanding work. She has never asked for any thanks or acknowledgment. But without Ashley’s leadership, GirlForward simply would not exist the way it does today. Ashley is a great leader for many reasons, and her desire to see girls succeed without needing anything in return is one example of how she leads a rare life.