As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re excited to kick off our series highlighting inspiring women in leadership at Alexander Youth Network. We’re proud to have these trailblazing women as a part of our team and to celebrate their achievements during this important month.
Today, we’re proud to shine the spotlight on our President and Chief Operations Officer, Ashley Conrad, MSL. Ashley first joined Alexander in 2007 and has served in various roles before ultimately becoming President & COO. Ashley’s been a driving force behind Alexander’s success and her leadership and vision have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goals.
Below, we asked Ashley a few questions about her career journey and leadership style:
Q: When you began your career, did you ever imagine that you would have a leadership role in this profession or organization?
A: Absolutely not. My undergraduate degree was Therapeutic Recreation and I really wanted to have my own therapeutic horseback riding facility. As my career started to advance, I found that I enjoyed the children I was working with, but I also enjoyed problem solving and working with adults. I enjoyed being part of an individual’s growth whether it was with a child in treatment or an adult in the workplace. I liked roles where I could do both. They fueled me in different ways.
Q: Who inspired you to be a leader and why?
A: I would say my parents but specifically my dad. They both supported me in my career and didn’t believe in the stigma that I couldn’t do something just because I was a woman. Just the opposite, actually. My Dad was my “career coach” and the one I always reached out to as I moved forward in my career. He gave me the best advice and would shoot it straight with me, no matter what.
“My parents both supported me in my career and didn’t believe in the stigma that I couldn’t do something just because I was a woman.”
Q: During your career with Alexander, you have made the jump from a Day Treatment Program Manager, all the way to President and COO of the agency. What would you credit most for your long career and rise to leadership with Alexander?
A: I still joke to this day about a response I gave in my interview. I stated I didn’t like to be bored or stagnant; that I liked to grow and learn. I can say 100% that I have never been bored here. I put myself out there to take new opportunities to challenge myself but also to serve the agency and the mission. I love working alongside partners to help meet the needs of a community.
Q: As someone who must oversee so many functions of our programs and services, what skills/traits are important to make sure that the agency runs smoothly and efficiently?
A: Communication is number one. We have programs and services across the state and there is no way to oversee all of it without strong communication. That goes for my direct reports or anyone in the agency. You must make yourself available to the people working with you and with our families. Building a strong team is right up there as well because it takes a lot of people working together to be successful. I could not do this without that aspect.