Home Town: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Creative Writing, Grand Valley State University
Specific Field Interests: International Development, Sustainable Development, Livelihoods, Disaster Relief
Placement: Lok Kala Sagar Sansthan in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan
Area of Focus: Arts & Culture, Education
Fellowship Project: Assist in documenting ICH Legacy elements of history, songs, instruments, admired individuals and historic figures and epic myths from the Jaisalmer Merasi people’s own perspective.
Highlights: Ashley Benedict was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Creative Writing from Grand Valley State University. As an undergraduate, she acted as an ambassador for the Center for Women and Gender Equity; worked as a peer educator to provide on-campus presentations for sexual assault prevention; and led student volunteer trips to nonprofits throughout the U.S. Upon graduation, Ashley joined AmeriCorps NCCC as a Team Leader and cultivated skills working in a variety of fields, including disaster recovery, veteran support, community outreach, and addressing food insecurity. In recognition of her efforts, she received the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award as well as Team Builder of the Year Award. She then moved on to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Iowa Disaster Human Resource Council in Des Moines, Iowa, where she built up the organization's capacity by conducting qualitative and quantitative data collection projects to inform and create a revitalized organizational strategic plan. Her most recent position included working as Logistics Coordinator for an international disaster relief organization, All Hands and Hearts, in response to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, the North Complex Fire in Northern California, and flash flooding in Kentucky. Ashley acted as a liaison between All Hands and Hearts and community members; acquired and assessed homeowner cases; and managed quality data input, collection, and auditing for each program. Her experience has helped her strengthen skills in communication, facilitation, data collection and analysis, and community engagement. With a background in psychology, she finds that it has helped inform her work by providing more understanding and compassion when working with communities who have undergone emotional duress. Her continued passion for service work and community immersion is what motivated her to become an American Indian Fellow.