Ethan Charles Ashley was born in Compton, California. After finding herself divorced and raising three boys, Lisa Jones, Ethan's mother, moved in with and leaned on her supportive and loving parents, Ola Bell Jones (July 22, 1945) and Rev. Elbert Jones (January 11, 1942). Ola Bell was born in Louisiana; and, her husband, Elbert, was born and raised in Oklahoma. Both migrated to California in the 1950s. Ola Bell was an educator and retired in 2010 after 20 years of service in the classroom. Rev. Jones retired as the Maintenance Superintendent of a senior citizen living community, after 24 years of service. He continues to pastor in Compton, California at Christ The Living Word Baptist Church. Ethan’s mother, Lisa, was also an educator serving as a Head Start instructor, elementary school teacher and site supervisor.
During his early years of life, Ethan fought and won a battle with cancer, Neuroblastoma. The surgery took place at Long Beach Memorial Hospital in California and lasted for hours, as the cancer was wrapped around his upper spine/backbone. The surgery was successful; however, after the surgery, during the many years he was monitored, Ethan almost died twice, due to fevers and infections. Nevertheless, Ethan survived and went on to have a thriving public school education career. Being born into a family of educators, Ethan learned early in his life that education is a powerful tool that can be used to break generational poverty and gain self-efficacy.
Armed with this knowledge, Ethan fully emerged himself into his education career and worked hard to graduate high school at the age of 16. Afterwards, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree by the age of 22. Ethan serves as the youngest elected official in New Orleans and serves as an elected Orleans Parish School Board member for District 2. Ethan also serves as the Co-Founder and Partner of School Board Partners as well as the National State and Local Advocacy Director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Essentially, Ethan helps coordinate engagement with state and local governments on civil rights issues throughout the United States and works to support elected school board members around the country to improve the lives of students and families.
During his studies at Howard and after the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ethan helped plan service trips for Howard students each year since 2006 to the city of New Orleans. To continue his efforts of rebuilding New Orleans, Ethan, immediately after graduating from law school, moved to New Orleans to work as a program director and lobbyist at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, where he was tasked with running their project to end juvenile life sentences in the state of Louisiana. In this position, Ethan worked in a legal, organizational, and policy-based capacity. He ultimately helped to organize and pass legislation to end juvenile life sentences for non-homicide offenses.
Ethan's passion to change the infamous school-to-prison-pipeline is what motivated his career change into the field of education. For almost two years, Ethan worked as the New Orleans Director for the Black Alliance for Educational Options, where he was tasked with organizing, fundraising, and developing programs focused on increasing high quality educational options for black youth who come from low income and working class families. Ethan helped to coordinate one of the largest student and parent rallies at the state capitol. In September of 2014, Ethan Ashley joined the Urban League of Louisiana as the Director of Community Engagement. As Director of Community Engagement, Ethan led the community, policy, advocacy and partnership-based work in education, housing, health, economic and workforce development, environment, criminal justice, and civic engagement. During his tenure, Ethan was able to testify for and help pass criminal justice reform legislation at the state legislature, including the Raise the Age legislation. Ethan also created and led an educational leadership community program for leaders of color called Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD). To date more than 150 current and aspiring educational leaders have matriculated through this program and have applied what they’ve learned through ULEAD to create positive outcomes for youth. For example, in New Orleans, great charter schools need great boards to help public charter schools build strong and strategic teams that can ensure school quality. There are now several ULEADers who proudly serve on charter school boards in New Orleans. Ethan also had the opportunity to lead a juvenile alternative to detention program called Community Coaching, Know Your Rights Program, where he received a national award recognizing his work to train over 1,500 youth about their legal rights, and various civil engagement activities, including the High School Civic Engagement Challenge.
Ethan has worked on the Hill for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, at the Urban League of Louisiana, and for the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Ethan serves as the Program Chair of the NORD Commission and board member for Bard Early College New Orleans, a rigorous, credit-bearing, tuition-free college course of student in the liberal arts and sciences available to junior and senior level students. Ethan is also a board member of the Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council, the National Juvenile Justice Network and the New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute. Ethan proudly serves on the advisory council to Emerge Louisiana, an organization dedicated to training women to run for elected office and as a board member of a Political Action Committee, IDEA, focused on supporting progressive young candidates for office.
Ethan serves as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Chairman and has done so for the last 3 years, during which the organization has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support victims and treatment facilities. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., where he has inspired colleagues to support youth through scholarships and mentoring. Ethan funds and runs his own scholarship program for college bound pubic school students living in District 2.
Ethan created and still maintains a Black Male Leadership program called the New Orleans Black Male Achievement Network (NOBMAN). Ethan was the director of a voluntary literacy program for almost 5 years at the Youth Jail in New Orleans. Ethan is the proud co-owner of JE Howard Ventures, an investment company that specializes in community development. Ethan is the owner of EthanCharlesDesigns, a company that addresses social issues through fashion, philanthropy and content.
Above all, Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and is a strong advocate for education, equity, people development, youth justice, economic justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.