We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Sharp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Honestly, I used to be afraid of everything, especially of failure. So I refused to take risks- I put myself out there some, but only in situations where I felt reasonably assured of my success. Then one day, I had an epiphany- my life was never going to change unless I changed first. I didn’t want to be the girl behind the curtain- I wanted the microphone. But that meant I had to take action, and it had to be bold action. I started applying for jobs, boards, and leadership groups that I wanted to align myself with. I got accepted into the Doctorate program of my dreams, landed my perfect job at Dwell with Dignity, took on leadership positions. Did I get rejected from things? Of course! But I also joined groups and got opportunities that I never would have imagined before. Risk taking is scary, sure- no one wants to be turned down. But you know what is even scarier? Waking up in twenty years and wishing you had done something differently while you could have.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My whole life has been nonprofit leadership. I was a very driven teenager- graduated from high school at 17, college at 20, and had my Master’s in Public Administration at 21, while working full time. I guess you can say I’m driven by the need to connect people to causes they care about most. I was only 28 when I became the Executive Director of Dwell with Dignity, and definitely felt a sense of imposter syndrome when I first came on board. Who was I to be leading this organization? Then I remembered I was here for a reason- I had the experience, the education, and the drive to push Dwell with Dignity forward, and the ability to surround myself with the best team on earth who would be alongside me every step. I’ve taken my nonprofit leadership expertise even further now- I teach Executive Leadership at the University of Houston, and I’ve recently started writing about leadership, especially for millennials and nonprofits, for Forbes. It is amazing to think that I get to talk and write about my passion all day, every day, and to help others discover their own voices and paths.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love Dallas- I think it is such an incredible city, with some of the best dining and shopping in the country! For me, any tour would have to start with coffee- La La Land Kind Cafe, The Market at Bonton Farms, and Union Coffee all serve up delicious drinks and snacks with the proceeds going back to benefit social good- win win! After we are caffeinated it’s shopping time- my favorite haunts include Lula B’s for one of a kind vintage finds, Favor the Kind for gifts, and Scout Design Studio for the coolest furniture and home decor. If we need a rest in between, we’ll head over to White Rock Lake for some fresh air, grab some croissants over at Boulangerie, or people watch over in the lobby at The Joule, where we can refuel with more coffee at Weekend Coffee. For dinner, it is either dumplings at Royal China, Lucia’s for Italian (if we can get a table), or Mi Cocina for queso and margs. To wind down the night, we will head over to The Texas Theater or Inwood Theater for a late night showing, or catch some live jazz at The Balconey Club.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Dwell with Dignity has been the driving force in my life! I’m inspired by every aspect of the organization, from the fearless clients we serve through transformational design to the thousands of volunteers who have adopted Dwell with Dignity and our mission as their own. I’m surrounded by an incredible team and board who have pushed this nonprofit to heights we never even fathomed- I’m thankful every day that I get to wake up and do this!