This week’s profile features an interview with Ashley Creason, who spent most of her life in Wisconsin before heading to Western North Carolina in 2007 and is soon moving to Vancouver, Washington. I met Ashley in the spring of 2016 through the RESULTS network. We were both on these weekly group leader calls and all we knew about each other was our voices on these evening calls. She had become a group leader for Asheville and I wondered more about this voice on the line each week.
I did get to meet her that summer in Washington, D.C. and we connected when I made a random day trip to Asheville, NC over the weekend of July 4th. Her passion for serving her community, the outdoors, and learning shined and I was glad I’d sent that random text to see if she was around.
- Ashley, I learned so much from you that afternoon at a brewery by the river in Asheville. What did you think you wanted to be when you grew up and how has that evolved?
Oh boy… Or should I say Oh girl? Just caught myself. When I was really little I wanted to be a veterinarian, until I realized I could not stand to see pets hurting on a daily basis. Come middle school, my science and curiosity nature then turned my career desires towards being an investigator and working crime scenes. I love to solve things. I got my bachelor’s in Forensic Science and went on to Basic Law Enforcement Training, in order to be a police officer, as a step towards my goal of being a crime scene investigator. While going through the training and probation process, it slowly became clear that patrol was not my cup of tea. It is almost imperative for officer safety to assume the worst in people and always watch their backs. That is just not in my nature. I decided I wanted to help society from a more positive perspective. I had also been on several mission trips, working with children and community outreach, and realized I missed participating in such events where I was able to help others. I decided to enroll in graduate school to get my master’s in social work. I will graduate this May. Following my graduation, I plan to spend a month in Kenya working with a women’s empowerment group, as well as an organization that focuses on water sanitation tied in with health, education, and microfinancing.
- What do you do in your “day job” now and why have you chosen that?
My main day job is being a wife, a student, and working part time at the police department — the only thing I get paid for — although not as an officer. Part of being a student involves a 24 hour a week internship of our choice. I chose to work at an outdoor wilderness therapy program for adolescents. The group I work with is adolescent boys with substance use problems. I love that I get to be outside in nature while also helping teenagers learn more healthy coping skills.
- How happy have you been with your choices as you’ve followed those explorations?
I don’t think anyone can say that all choices they have ever made were “good” or turned out the way they planned. Learning to own my choices, accept, and be content with the outcomes is a personal ongoing process. We can learn from all of our choices, teach others what we learned, and make changes or stay the course accordingly. And sometimes choices we aren’t happy with in the moment, turn out to produce happiness down the road and in hindsight.
- What are your best sources for learning?
Conferences and presentations from other people in areas of interest are my favorite since it is more personal and I don’t have to read. I can watch and listen instead!
- You stay pretty busy. What do you devote your time to “outside of work?”
I love to cook and eat, craft (in all forms), do Crossfit, do Zumba, hike, travel, etc.
- How do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired by other women who are genuinely joyful and making a difference. The ones I find most inspiring are not women who act like their lives are perfect, but those who are vulnerable enough to admit their struggles and are still content while moving forward and serving others in some capacity.
- What causes and organizations are you most passionate about?
RESULTS — a nonprofit international policy organization using everyday people to influence Congress’ actions towards ending global poverty. It is the opportunity to make one change that would affect so many others in a positive way is inspiring.No Ordinary Women (NOW) — a nonprofit connecting women locally and globally and empowering them to find their unique purpose and value through leadership and spiritual courses. This is the organization I will be traveling to Kenya with in the summer to meet a partner organization which teaches women skills like paper jewelry making and sewing so that they can generate some income for their families. Research shows that in developing countries women are more likely to spend money on their children’s health and education than a man would.
- Who do you look up to?
I look up to several great women who live into my description of inspiration above. One is a friend who is a fellow social worker, as well. I have gone to her for both professional and personal advice. She recently started a blog to tackle personal hot topics within relationships, motherhood, eating disorders, and others all with an unapologetic spiritual perspective which I admire. We also share a first name 🙂 The other woman is one of the founders of NOW, which is awesome in and of itself, but she also doles out joy, laughter, encouragement, empathy, and grace to everyone, even to those who don’t share her passion and perspective.
- What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
Comparing myself to other women. Thinking I can never measure up or believing that I am more “arrived” than someone else. Comparison can make me feel too small or too big, both of which are not beneficial. We are all unique, all have our own journeys, and our levels of accomplishment are going to look different for each woman. They will take different amounts of time and will take different ups, downs, turns, and flips.
- Best and worst advice you’ve ever received?
Best: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.” Marianne Williamson
Worst: I believe I was mostly given good advice over the years. Nothing bad stands out to me right now, maybe because I didn’t listen to it. But “bad” advice can still be useful — it can teach us what not to do.
Learn more about how Ashley’s work will take her to Start with One in Kenya and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Thanks for reading Ashley’s story. Share in the comments how it impacted you or share it on social media. Check out next week’s weekly post on Women & the Way We Work. Missed the others? Take a look at my blog to read the others. Know someone you think should be featured? Can I help you or your organization with a storytelling project? Contact me and let’s chat.
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