International Women's Day Forum with AT&T

I've always loved celebrating holidays that honor women, whether it is International Women's Day or International Day of The Girl, I'm here for all of it because I love the energy that unites us around the world to take action and proudly proclaim what we believe in. This year's International Women's Day was especially important to me because it reminded me of the video I created honoring my Nana last year for YouTube's #HerVoiceIsMyVoice IWD campaign. When I made it, my Nana was fine and in good health, then she suddenly passed away 42 days later. So the video and holiday hold a special place in my heart.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the U.S. Department of State recently hosted their 8th annual International Women’s Day Forum, Partner With Purpose: Business for Gender Equality. It was an honor to celebrate IWD by attending this event thanks to one of the awesome sponsors, AT&T. The sessions collectively focused on building a foundation and nourishing a culture shift that fosters a thriving legacy. Businesses provide legacies- whether it's a mom & pop's shop that's passed to the next generation, or a technology start-up that instills entrepreneurship skills in the employees, or a corporation that includes gender equality in their values and ensures the future leadership adheres.

This year's theme, #PressForProgress was interwoven throughout the forum, highlighting the importance of motivating friends, colleagues and communities to think, act, and be gender inclusive. This is especially integral in business because the balance of both men and women in leadership helps bring innovation and a different perspective to the decision making table.

Check out my Instagram highlight story titled, "#IWD2018" to see live footage from the event!

The forum reignited my passion for mentoring and entrepreneurship. I walked away feeling blessed to be a woman. Although it comes with its own set of challenges, I sat in a room full of women who continue to fight the good fight. Here are some ways you can make a difference.

1. Mentor- a common theme during the forum was the importance of representation in leadership and STEM. Seeing others succeed is helpful because it allows youth to realize it's possible for them to do the same. Would you like to mentor but don't know where to start? Check out these awesome organizations below that have volunteer and mentor opportunities!

2. Social Responsibility- the forum highlighted major companies including Intel Corporation, AT&T, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin that realize the importance of becoming involved in their community. You can become an asset to your company by encouraging them to use their influence to create women and girls empowerment initiatives their employees can participate in. Below are some examples of organizations that are social responsibility trailblazers.

AT&T Aspire- My love for AT&T started as a child because they were my telephone provider. I remember seeing their blue logo every month as I watched my Nana pay the bills. As an adult, I was elated to hear about their expansion as a leader not only technology, but within the community as well. It was an honor to work with them for their Inspired Mobility and 28 Days: Black History Month campaigns. Knowing their philanthropic spirit, I wasn't surprised when I learned about their partnerships with Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code.  AT&T Aspire focuses on creating connections that drive innovation in education. AT&T is dedicated to causes that matter. They even have a 10 year roadmap for their Connect to Good campaign showing how they will use the power of their network to build a better tomorrow.

 Intel® She Will ConnectIntel works to close gender gaps in technology and promotes gender equality by empowering girls and women. She Will Connect's innovative model includes teaching digital literacy skills, building infrastructure, supplying income generation opportunities, and cultivating a social network. Intel has a goal of reaching 5 million women in Africa by the end of 2020.

Microsoft DigiGirlz- Microsoft is another love of mine because I received a full scholarship from The Gates Millennium Scholars Program,  funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Most people think Bill Gates = Microsoft = Technology which results in them failing to realize that their mission is about more than technology, they impact the world through Microsoft Philanthropies.  DigiGirlz hosts events and camps for middle and high school girls to connect with employees, explore hands-on computer workshops, and learn about the endless possibilities of careers in technology. 

Lockheed Martin & Girls Inc.Lockheed Martin & Girls Inc. built a thriving partnership because they realized the importance of connecting employees with girls to help build their interest and confidence in pursuing STEM education and careers. Lockheed Martin has a diverse group of partners who are all united for the common mission of pioneering STEM education outreach initiatives for K-12 students. By serving as mentors and being present in classrooms, they hope to create pipelines for our next generation of technology leaders.

3. Stay Informed & Share the Knowledge- if you are reading this and thinking, "Obviously Ashley, this is a given- I share information all the time," then send this post to three people and share it on social media so I know it's real! If you're reading this and thinking, "Thanks Ashley for the reminder, I need to do better," then subscribe to at least two organizations below so you can stay updated on the impact they are having in the lives of women and girls globally.


Now Tell Me What's On Your Mind: What are you going to do to #PressforProgress and advance girls and women's empowerment?


Discount For You to See me Speak at Blogalicious!

Discount For You to See me Speak at Blogalicious!

My success and impact reached greater heights when I stopped allowing the comparison devil to make my thoughts his. The old me spent countless hours obsessing over the blessings being received by others instead of focusing on my own unique journey. We are all familiar with the cliché saying, "Compare yourself only to who you were yesterday." 

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Let's Get Uncomfortable: Mental Health Makeover Event

Let's Get Uncomfortable: Mental Health Makeover Event

When you visualize your goals, it makes them easier to obtain. A year ago when I launched my movement, #BlackMHM Black Mental Health Makeover, I envisioned eventually moving the dialogue from online to in person. Blog posts and YouTube videos were a great way to get people talking, but I wanted to connect in person. I thrive on human interaction. Now here I type, almost a year later- I am 31 days away from the mental health event I envisioned. Let me tell you, it feels good as hell!

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5 Quotes for Growth from #NABJNAHJ16 Convention #InspiredMobility

When I'm confused and can't see what is next on my path, I always ask God to send me clarity and confirmation. It can be as simple as seeing an inspirational quote on Instagram that speaks to my situation or finding $40 on a busy NYC street (yes, this has really happened to me). Regardless of the form in which God decides to send His message, I always listen and express my gratitude for the plan He has for my life. A couple of months ago, I was discouraged about the future of Don't Die Afraid but after becoming an ambassador for AT&T's #InspiredMobility I realized the importance of my message. My message truly is a catalyst for change and I need to own it!

"My message truly is a catalyst for change and I need to own it! #DontDieAfraid"

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During the NABJ & NAHJ Convention (#NABJNAHJ16) God sent me clarity and confirmation through the workshops, especially during the #InspiredMobility chat with Alfred Edmond Jr. and Rev. Run. Every time I interacted with someone, it felt like God was speaking right through them. It was actually pretty bizarre how accurate the messaging and timing was. Below are 5 quotes that spoke to my soul during #NABJNAHJ16 that can be helpful if you are experiencing a stage of uncertainty or growth.

1. "When you are copying someone else you are giving God the wrong answer- he asked you a different question! Be authentic." -Rev. Run

Moment of Clarity: Frequently we get caught up in looking at the blessings others are receiving, so we want to do exactly what they are doing in order to gain success. Then we have the nerve to get frustrated when we don't see results. We fail to realize that each of us are walking on tailor-made path. We would see success if we listen to the plans God has for us instead of trying to covet the blessings of those around us.

I constantly struggle with this so hearing this word from Rev. Run snapped me into grind mode. I have to keep working hard for what God has in store for me.

2. "Don't ask God for it if you don't think he's going to give you the answer." -Rev. Run

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"Don't ask God for it if you don't think he's going to give you the answer @RevRunWisdom"

Moment of Confirmation: Asking God to show up in your life but not trusting that He will show out, is a slap in His face. Commit to do your best work, write down your intentions of what you want God to do in your life, and then leave the rest to Him.

I've been dealing with some turmoil the past month and I went to the Lord in tears, and He asked me, "Do you not believe that I am, who I say I am?" So I had to bounce back to reality and respond, "Lord, You are who You say You are." That sentence brought a sense of calmness over me because I had no choice but to trust Him.

Clearly, Rev. Run was dropping gems, click to read more of his inspirational quotes.

3. "AT&T found 8-in-10 (80%) people say mobile technology facilitates inspiration." -AT&T #InspiredMobility Report

Moment of Confirmation: If you use your social media platform to inspire others- KEEP INSPIRING! Even if you don't feel like you get enough likes, comments, followers, retweets, or shares, know that you are still contributing to the positive power of technology. It's astonishing that AT&T's report discovered 80% of people are receiving inspiration from their mobile devices! Technology and social media are often classified as making us more dependent, weakening our interpersonal skills, and creating jealousy because it only reveals highlight reels; but this study reveals that there is inspirational content that is helping readers.

This report confirmed that I have to keep building my Resilient Family and the Don't Die Afraid empire because people need a haven they can depend on that inspires them to realize their circumstances don't hinder their future.

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4. "It could have been me." -Jarrett Hill

Moment of Clarity: In the midst of our trials, we frequently forget about the sunshine we’ve experienced because all we can see in front of us is stormy clouds. Jarrett Hill received the spotlight for revealing that Melania Trump stole a whole paragraph from First Lady Michelle Obama's 2008 speech. Before the accolades, Jarrett was dealing with unemployment and the uncertainty of knowing the trajectory of his future. When seeing the struggles of others around him, Jarrett reminded himself, "It could have been me."

That one simple realization helped him see his blessings in spite of the hard times. Currently, I'm a full time content creator, not by choice- but instead by necessity, as I look for a job. I'm in the same position Jarrett was months ago. Do I feel discouraged every once in a while? Yeah, but testimonies like his help me remain resilient.

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5. "20% of health is in the doctors office, 80% is everywhere else. A culture of health is more than your interactions in the health care system. #CloseHealthGaps" -Dr. Dwayne Proctor

Moment of Confirmation:We get caught up in the misconception that health is something static, solely existing in our doctor's hands. When the truth is: racism, residential segregation, education policy,income distribution, urban planning, and tons of other social determinants have the greatest impact on our health. This is why it is imperative to advocate for quality in all these aspects of our lives.

I expected #NABJNAHJ16 to provide knowledge only about journalism and new media. When I saw the abundance of sessions on health, I was ecstatic and reassured I will soon find a way to combine my Broadcast Journalism B.A. and my Master of Public Health.

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I'm grateful for this opportunity and the relationships I formed with the other AT&T influencers *pictured above* who poured into my life. This experience at #NABJNAHJ16 with AT&T's Inspired Mobility refueled me to continue to do do what I love, by inspiring my Resilient Family.

Now Tell Me What's On Your Mind: How do you use technology to find inspiration? You can join in the conversation by sharing an inspirational thought, photo, meme or video and using the hashtag #InspiredMobility.

Disclosure: Thank you to AT&T for sponsoring this post. You my Resilient Family know that all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that value my unique voice!

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Owning My Identity As an Inspirational Blogger with #InspiredMobility

Sometimes when we can't find space for our unique talents, we feel pressured to place ourselves into boxes that don't represent who we truly are. When participating in blogging surveys, I always felt uncomfortable because I didn't fit into the pre-defined blogger categories of "Beauty, Entertainment, Fashion, Lifestyle, Travel, Food, Technology, or DIY." I was forced to place a check next to "Other," without any opportunity to write that I am an inspirational blogger.

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This feeling of not belonging wasn't exclusive to only surveys, it was also present during meet-ups and conferences when the breakout sessions for blog niches never included inspiration. The few times I was brave enough to share my niche, people would say, “What is an inspirational blogger? So what do you even write about?” Instead of utilizing it as a moment for expanding the knowledge of others, I began questioning the need for my voice in the blogging arena. I simply didn't think there was a community for people like myself.

When these small voices of self-doubt arise, I remind myself of my mission, "Empower individuals to realize their circumstances don't hinder their future. They are just stepping stones to success to show them how resilient they truly are."

"When your mission is clear, nothing can stand in your way- not even self-doubt. #DontDieAfraid"

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During AT&T's #InspiredMobility Session at Blogging While Brown in Washington D.C. July 15-17, I finally found others who wanted to uplift and inspire people daily. L. Michelle Smith, Director, Public Relations, U.S. Diversity, Citizenship & Sustainability and Jason Caston, Faith & Mobility Expert led the group in a discussion about how people are using mobile technology to connect with their faith or inspiration.

AT&T's Inspired Mobility initiative realizes, "Inspiration is no longer just analog. People are picking up their mobile devices to connect with it, and it has never been more popular. Inspired Mobility is another way to see how people make our products and services a part of their lives so that everything works better."

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I was thrilled to be introduced to Inspired Mobility because I enjoy using my mobile platform to share positive vibes with my Resilient Family and also receive inspiration from others. Thanks to AT&T, I will be attending my first National Association of Black Journalist (NABJ) & National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Convention, (#NABJNAHJ16) from August 3-7.

On August 5, I will get the chance to meet Rev. Run after his exclusive chat with Alfred Edmond Jr. about how he uses his "Words of Wisdom" to reach millions daily. I'll share live updates from the conference on social media with the hashtags #NABJNAHJ16 and #InspiredMobility.

Stay connected on social media so you don't miss a minute of the excitement! Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Now Tell Me What's On Your Mind: How do you use technology to find inspiration? You can join in the conversation by sharing an inspirational thought, photo, meme or video and using the hashtag #InspiredMobility

Disclosure: Thank you AT&T for sponsoring this post. You my Resilient Family know that all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the companies that value my unique voice!

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#BlackMHM: Inspiration from #HillDay15

Happy 1 Month Anniversary #BlackMHM ! I love celebrations, so of course I'm going to honor the one month creation of my Black Mental Health Makeover social media campaign.

Every other week on Don't Die Afraid, will be dedicated to a topic around mental health.

Did you think I was joking when I said #BlackMHM is going viral? I hope you didn't, because I was serious.

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The first couple of posts/videos will give you a foundation about why mental health is important to me. My passion for mental health has always existed but #HillDay15 reignited my fire. I am pursuing my Masters in Public Health, which is a degree that allows me to work in a plethora of career fields. After attending #HillDay15, hosted by The National Council for Behavioral Health I became seriously interested in careers around mental health. The event was dynamic, I learned about policy, various organizations in the field, took a blurry selfie with Dr. Oz, shared my experiences on camera for a PSA, and met some amazing people.

The room was full of professionals who dedicate their lives to advocacy, providing service, and breaking the stigma. Then there was me- I found out about the event through Twitter and didn't have class that day so I signed up to attend. Before arriving, I didn't know what to expect. I thought it was open to the public but once I was there, I felt a little under-qualified.  That feeling quickly dissolved after hearing how impressed people were after I told them that I attended out of pure passion for behavioral health. Although we all care about the topic, they were attending based on this opportunity being "a part of their job", whereas I attended because it was "a part of my heart".

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After an assessment of the room, I no longer felt out-of-place. I belonged there. Others like myself belonged there too those who are not in the field but have a genuine passion, millennials, and black people. This realization gave birth to #BlackMHM, Black Mental Health Makeover.

Through the social media campaign, over 20 people have posted photos about mental health and started the conversation on their social media with friends. I have been able to reach those individuals who should have been in the room with me for #HillDay15. It is eye-opening and refreshing because I never imagined to receive all this support. A lot of the people who joined the campaign, don't frequently discuss mental health on their outlets so I had no clue that they were interested. Seeing my idea become a catalyst for in-depth conversations about these issues warms my heart. I HOPE to host an event in July 2016 for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, *fingers double crossed, speaks it into existence*.

Thank you to The National Council for Behavioral Health and all of the partners (DBSA, The Jed Foundation, Mental Health America, NAMI, and Sunovion) for adding fuel to my fire for mental health and to everyone who has joined my movement. It's not too late to participate; all you have to do is post a black and white photo on social media with a caption about mental health to spark a conversation with your followers. Then include the #BlackMHM and tag me @DontDieAfraid.

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You do not have to be black to support my movement. It is titled, "Black Mental Health Makeover" because that is the community I identify with, so I know the deeply rooted issues we have with mental health stigma. My amazing Italian high school friend, Amanda participated to show her support and her caption spoke about why she feels mental health stigma should be broken.

Now Tell Me What’s On Your Mind: Have you ever initially felt out-of-place at an event but in the end, you realized it was exactly where you needed to be? Comment below to let me know; I would love to hear what you have to say.

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The Power of a Passport Can Change Your Life

The Power of a Passport Can Change Your Life

Many children don't understand the #powerofthepassport . The Passport Party Project allows underrepresented girls ages 11-16 to debunk that myth. I was once that girl who didn't think she could experience the wonders of the world. On the 4th birthday of my passport, I share with you the beginning of my global awareness through travel. A passport can truly change your life.

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