A native of Santa Monica,
Ashley is a passionate social justice advocate with experience in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
Ashley served as a Case Manager for at-risk, transition age youth throughout Los Angeles County at LA Conservation Corps where she managed a 60 person YouthBuild program as an MSW Case Manager. After graduate school she worked with adults in the GAIN program at LA County DPSS through a contract with JVS SoCal. She also did qualitative research in Santa Monica and Venice in 2011 on homelessness focusing on LGBTQ youth and how this population uses social media and cell phones to stay in touch. She continued this research throughout graduate school. Her experience included research with St. Joseph Center as well as fundraising for Venice Community Housing from 2011-2014 and participating in homeless counts in Santa Monica and Venice.
Ashley also has over a decade of experience in non-profit programming, fundraising and event planning.
Born at St. John’s in Santa Monica she attended Crossroads School for K-12 where she learned to give back to the local community. While she attended Crossroads, she became a longtime volunteer for Headstart and an advocate for public education. Ashley believes that preschool through college should be a right and not a privilege.
She then attended Santa Monica College and graduated from Occidental College with a Bachelors in Sociology. While born in Santa Monica she is also a fourth generation Jewish Angeleno (Wilshire Boulevard Temple), committed to advocating for children, seniors, and families in terms of education, health, homelessness, housing, and beyond.
Since 2014, Ashley serves as a board member of United in Harmony. Ashley has been a long-time, dedicated volunteer for Camp Harmony, which provides summer camp and activities throughout the year for homeless and low-income children, ages 7-11. Prior to joining the board, Ashley helped to organize and facilitate United in Harmony's Leadership program serving 100s of children and positively impacting the lives of Los Angeles area teenagers learning vital skills for the future.
Ashley's volunteer experiences sparked her academic interests that led her to pursue her B.A. in Sociology from Occidental College with a particular interest in learning about disenfranchised populations.
She is proud to have attended Santa Monica College for two semesters before transferring to Occidental College in 2008.
She went on to earn her Master of Social Work at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing, Planning, and Administration as well as a Master of Public Administration at the Sol Price School of Public Policy with a focus on Nonprofit Management at the University of Southern California.
While at USC she travelled to Sao Paolo Brazil with the Price School to do presentations to the state government on social service delivery models for public housing. An economist for the World Bank led this program along with USC’s Brazil staff and local government interns.
In 2018 she joined Swing the Seven as an outreach team member. She also worked as a paid canvasser in Orange County for the midterm election where she developed strategy that would propel her to decide now is the time to run for office. She participated in Leadership Los Angeles in 2015-16 with the intent of running for office someday in her hometown, Santa Monica. Ashley is a nonprofit consultant on several boards and committees including the Anti Defamation League, United in Harmony, National Council of Jewish Women, and Planned Parenthood Action League in Santa Monica. She also works as an Event Manager for Hold the Date Events. Ashley is excited about the prospect of serving Santa Monica as your next City Council member.
I am running because I want to serve the Santa Monica community and help others succeed. My motto is whatever it takes!
Article on Homelessness in L.A. County:
“How can we work together to solve the homeless crisis?”
Ashley Powell, MSW, MPA
September 9th, 2018 (adapted from my 2014 essay titled “Collaborative Governance Needed to Help the Homeless.”)
Homelessness is a complex but solvable problem. How does collaborative governance provide an approach to help the homeless in Los Angeles county? What are specific examples of these types of organizations that intersect to problem solve? Intersectoral leadership being one of my favorite classes at USC Sol Price School of Public Policy inspired this essay.
“We are nothing without each other.”
Collaborative governance is community problem solving. Helping the homeless requires intersectoral leadership of the public, private, and non-profit sectors. For example, some non-profits operate food banks. Religious institutions have food programs and various groups work together with a combination of non-profit and public funds to help the homeless along with corporate sponsors. Change requires group process or team work. Since a complex but solvable problem like homelessness requires change, praxis-oriented action is also relevant here. Governance of the social design framework is helpful to addressing the need to provide homeless people with vital resources. Problem solving is important to change homelessness in Los Angeles County where public, private, and non-profit sectors intersect for the greater good.
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LARFB), founded in 1973, is a non-profit organization that distributes food to many charitable organizations in L.A. County helping 300,000 people on a monthly basis. According to LARFB, one in seven people in Los Angeles County experiences food insecurity. Their mission: “to mobilize resources to fight hunger in our community.” Every $1 donated provides enough food for 4 meals to feed hungry children, seniors and families. (https://www.lafoodbank.org/learn/who-we-help/)
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is partnered with a non-profit called Feeding America. The food bank operates by collecting food sources and funds from consumers, distributors, government food and funds, growers, manufacturers, retail, and private donations. All of these items are collected and sorted at the food bank and then distributed to food pantries, shelters, school programs, senior centers, and soup kitchens. This serves as an example of how a food bank operates through collaborative governance to supply to those in need.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) conducts the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count every two years that corresponds with the organization’s mission, which is “to support, create and sustain solutions to homelessness in the City and County of Los Angeles by providing leadership, advocacy, planning and management of program funding.” LAHSA is an independent agency that operates using funds from the County and the City of Los Angeles as well as federal and state funds. LAHSA in turn provides technical assistance to over 100 non-profit partner agencies that operate within the City and County of L.A.
LAHSA’s homeless count cannot operate without intersectoral leadership and volunteers. LAHSA’s non-profit partners mobilize groups of volunteers throughout L.A. County to conduct a count of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. This homeless count represents the largest in the nation. Data from the homeless count helps to address the complexities of homelessness and how to best invest public resources to fund homeless services to help prevent and eradicate homelessness. I was a volunteer for several homeless count sin Venice through LAHSA’s partnership with Venice Community Housing (VCH). LAHSA provides data from the 2018 homeless count that there were 52,765 homeless people in L.A. County on any given night. 13, 369 sheltered and 39,396 unsheltered.
Homelessness is a complex problem, which makes it difficult to eradicate. While collaborative governance is working to end homelessness, many homeless people have trouble seeking the services available to leave poverty behind. Mental health is a key component and several other barriers are relevant to housing and employment. When I talk to homeless people in Santa Monica and downtown LA I hear that a shortage of showers, storage, job coaching, and housing are contributing factors.
As an MSW student at USC in 2011-2012 I participated in a program through Public Counsel that trains and sends volunteers to the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS). I was able to get unique insight into some of the homeless people that frequent the facility. A few people that I talked to were using DPSS as a place to hang out and did not understand how to navigate the system. As a new MSW student I interviewed a variety of homeless people from different backgrounds In Venice. While I spoke to one woman who was actively seeking a job and benefits immensely through collaborative governance, I also spoke with homeless teenagers who told me they enjoy living at the beach but wish they had access to better shower facilities. Public administrators should continue to help the homeless through a collaborative approach. The key to helping the homeless is to provide resources to identify the services and organizations available to them through collaborative governance.
Greater Los Angeles homeless count. Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. https://www.lahsa.org/documents?id=2000-2018-greater-los-angeles-homeless-count-data-summary-total-point-in-time-homeless-population-by-geographic-areas
Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. https://www.lafoodbank.org/learn/who-we-help/