This year Ashley Blake, former Avalon staff, joins Avalon’s Board of Trustees. In this post she shares what she loves about our agency and what led her to volunteer with Avalon.
Tell us about yourself – where do you live?
Although I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, I am now a resident of Washington, DC – and loving it!
What are your hobbies? Fun facts about you?
About three years ago, I took up spinning. It’s both my meditation and tough-love therapy. I also love to read, and am a big fan of the arts. You can often find me at author’s talks and art shows!
Where do you work?
I work for Enterprise Community Partners, a national non-profit focused on making home and community places of pride, power and belonging. We do this through an end-to-end platform that prioritizes affordable housing finance, development, policy and programming.
How did you first get involved with Avalon?
I’ve had the pleasure of being connected to the Avalon community since 2007. I initially joined the organization as a social work intern at Carrot Way, working through my undergraduate studies at Eastern Michigan University. Eight years later, after leading resident services and community building work at an affordable housing organization in the Pacific Northwest, and receiving my master’s degree in Social Policy and Practice at University of Pennsylvania, I returned to Avalon. I was Avalon’s Community Building and Engagement Lead from 2015-2018.
What led you to join the board at Avalon?
Avalon’s mission and commitment to community underscores my deep belief that housing is a human right. In an increasingly inequitable world, the work of this organization is more critical than ever to ensure our friends, family and neighbors have a safe and dignified place to call home, and compassionate community supports. As a native Ann Arborite with deep roots in this city, it’s especially important to me that everyone here have an opportunity to thrive.
What are you most excited about and looking forward to as a new board member?
I’m most excited to be reconnected to the incredible staff and residents. We have so many wonderful individuals in our Avalon ecosystem, and I’m looking forward to supporting these folks in all their efforts. I’m also keen to better understand and discuss the ways in which Avalon can build on their role in the policy and advocacy space. I want to ensure supportive and affordable housing remains a top priority for our city and state.