Ethan Ashley, Urban League executive and education activist, announces candidacy for Orleans School Board
NEW ORLEANS –– Ethan Ashley, director of community engagement for the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, announced today his candidacy for Orleans Parish School Board District #2. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.
A resident of Gentilly, Ashley is committed to helping children in New Orleans succeed in life. He has served as a mentor to fatherless boys with Son of a Saint, as a school mentor with the Silverback Society and as the director of a literacy program at the Youth Study Center.
“My experiences mentoring and advocating for children have made it clear to me that a good education is truly a matter of life and death for many of our youth. We have a chance to level the playing field and prove that New Orleanians know that Black and Brown lives matter, by providing our children a quality education and real opportunities in life. We must give our young people the tools to re-write their story, and I have the vision, energy and commitment to work with the community to make this a reality.”
Having survived cancer as a child, Ashley is no stranger to adversity and hardship. Yet his story is one of rising above the odds and fuels his sense of urgency, passion and commitment to serve children and families.
Ashley’s mother and grandmother, who were both teachers, instilled in him a passion for learning, which led him to graduate high school at the age of 16. He then earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a law degree from Howard University at the age of 22. Using his determination and education, Ashley has dedicated his life to giving back to the community by advocating for, mentoring and supporting our most precious resource—our youth.
Prior to joining the Urban League, Ashley served under the senior attorney at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. He spearheaded an initiative to end life sentences for 15, 16 and 17-year-old children in the state of Louisiana, many of whom read on a 3rd grade level.
After successfully organizing hundreds of families and community leaders to secure a statewide policy change to end Juvenile Life Without Parole sentences, Ashley became determined to change the school-to- prison-pipeline by improving educational opportunities for black youth. He became director of an education non-profit where he organized parents, educators, community leaders and clergy to demand high quality educational options for Black youth who come from low-income and working class families.
In his current role as director of community engagement for the Urban League, Ashley leads the community and partnership-based work in education, criminal justice, economic development and workforce development. Ashley also directs the Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD) program, a community-based training fellowship that provides participants with the knowledge necessary to act in support of sustaining equitable, high-quality educational options and policies in K-12 education.
Ashley is also an active member of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), a program focused on reducing racial disparities and bias on the “front end” of the juvenile justice system, and helped spearhead a “Know Your Rights” program for youth. The program teaches youth about their rights to ensure respectful and safe interaction with police officers. Ashley has trained over 550 students in New Orleans as well as several attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.