After being born to a single teen mother, Ashley Rhodes-Courter was placed in Florida's foster care system where she spent nearly a decade living in 14 different placements before being adopted from a children's home at the age of twelve. Many of her foster placements were incredibly abusive with more than 25% of caregivers were, or became convicted felons. Her adverse childhood experiences propelled her toward a career in social work and advocacy. Ashley went on to earn a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. By the age of 22, Ashley had become a New York Times Bestselling Author and has written three books: "Three Little Words," "Three More Words," and her debut picture book, "Sam Is My Sister." Her books are used in classrooms all over the county and in First Year Experience collegiate programs.
Aside from being an International child welfare advocate, Ashley believed it important to "practice what she preached." In 2013, Ashley created the Foundation for Sustainable Families as a way to bridge service gaps in her own community, and connect children and families to quality programs already in existence. Since its inception, The Foundation for Sustainable Families has served hundreds of families and professionals in the Tampa Bay Area by providing access to educational opportunities, targeted case management, mental health care, food, clothing, school supplies, and academic supports. Ashley knows first-hand the importance of having a strong community, family, or support system. By channelling her own trauma as a conduit for change, Ashley's work is helping to reverse the cycles of abuse, mental illness, neglect, poverty, and disfunction that are costly to society and family systems.
I am so grateful to be named a Loreal Paris Women of Worth Honoree. I hope my participation in this program inspires others to continue to serve their communities in meaningful ways, and shows survivors of adversity that they can achieve their dreams, despite obstacles they may have faced.