About Our Chief Joy Strategist
Events, design and just the sweet essence of bringing loved ones together has always been a staple in my family and I would even say innate. My granny had an eye for design and crafting, whose gift transferred to my late auntie, Gloria. And her love of hosting transferred to my mother. My grandmother on my dad's side was a florist and could whip together some of the most beautiful arrangements. She too had a gift of hospitality and service that I very much admired and emulated. My Nana, my stepfather's mom, was the logistics and convener--she was the person always in charge of the family reunion, class reunion and family gatherings. You'll see that the wedding packages are named after these matriarchs.
Naturally, I was the one even as far back as high school, coordinating events or assisting production for our dance team. By college, the love of event management grew and I was "that friend" who'd plan my friend's birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers and you name it! Eccentric themes, with the goal of making sure everyone gets "all the feels" gives me so much joy! Especially, taking someone's vision and bringing it to life.
After graduating college, I got the awesome chance to intern with a family friend and mentor, Joye Speight of Virtue Event Planning. It was there I really gained the technical tools needed for organization, design and vendor negotiation. Thereafter, event planning continued to be a hobby and I would assist my friends to create special and memorable moments in time! It wasn't until I was nudged by my family and friends to really turn my hobby into a microenterprise.
Strategic Planner and Consultant
These set of skills are what my other part of my brain gets energy from and what my heart has come to enjoy through my professional experience in strategic planning and non-profit management. I've helped several organizations establish their mission, vision and values; offer personal and group facilitation for staff and board members in developing a strategic plan or simply motivating everyone around mission! Much of my career has been in marketing and fundraising for non-profits and equipping non-profits with the necessary tools for collective impact and transformation. Most recently, in one of my most loved roles yet, I worked for our local Community Foundation, where I engaged donors in their philanthropy; connected donors, partners, and other key stakeholders in the work of three strategic endowments that served women and children; commissioned public works of art; and lastly, engaged young professionals in philanthropic leadership. In addition to, I helped conduct grantmaking programs for the aforementioned, this is where I was able to expend my love for non-profits by assisting officers on how to write, strategize and implement grant dollars in a way that would be sustainable and attract funders.
As mentioned before, it's a joy to take someone's big picture and create the stepping stones, ladders, and movement to get them achieving their goal. I've helped individuals to simply launch out in the deep and start their own business or non-profit or simply help them explore their passions. With the right plan (that is always improving) coupled with some enCOURAGEment can take you far!
For the boring stuff... I earned a Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University School of Law, a Master’s in Strategic Public Relations and Affairs from George Washington University and a B.A. in Communication Studies, minors in Political Science and African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I've worked with various non-profit and business organizations in the areas of public relations, recruitment, fundraising, volunteer, management, marketing, and business development. I have a great passion for people, forging relationships and using these networks as great leverage for impacting my local community in the area of advocacy. Speaking of advocacy, I hope to expand my development arm into estate planning, will and trust law and also be an advocate for the most vulnerable.
Talking in Third Person
A life quote that Ashlee lives by and gives great definition to her life’s meaning, mission, and purpose is from a Christian missionary and martyr Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” She's so grateful for her best friend, for gifting her the Christina's Joy logo as a way to invest in her and to encourage her! (Thank you for always going beyond. I love you. Operation pay these student loans off and be generous is on! lol!),
A reoccurring lesson or resolve in my life that helps me cope through the dark moments, especially when they come out of nowhere, is being generous with my life. I realized that dwelling in unhappy places is not only unproductive but focuses energy inward. Recasting that energy outward is always fulfilling. I also noticed that God literally has not left me. He has always been there to lift me out of the haze and with his deep grace, always giving me something to aspire to; giving me eyes to see the positive in negative situations; the insight to see the beauty and good in even the most ugliest of people; the ability to smile when others thought I should be discouraged or angry. When others tried to crush me God made sure that I still had my joy, my sanity, but most of all my dignity in tact. The Lord is faithful and for that I must rejoice in His goodness. I have to choose joy. It's intentional. Sometimes it's a task. It means denying the elements and resting on the truth of the Gospel. I choose joy because this world wants us to choose contrary...the doom, the negativity, the hopelessness and the lies of the enemy. This business' purpose is just a few things that give me joy!
BUT MOST OF ALL WE SPREAD JOY! And we want to spread joy to you in this way!