Having more women on corporate boards can positively impact companies and organizations. Research shows that female board representation can transform the strategy involvement approaches of firms, leading to improved financial and social performance. Similarly, women play a critical role in entrepreneurship by creating environmental, societal and economic value around the globe. Although women face gender-specific challenges in this space, they also find distinct opportunities, as business and public policy leader Ashley Davis has personally experienced.
Since she was young, Davis has had a strong desire to become someone who manages groups of people to unlock unlimited possibilities. With a grandfather who established multiple companies, including several car dealerships, in the 1950s and a father who also owned several businesses, Davis has entrepreneurial spirit in her blood.
At the age of 40, Davis attended Georgetown University to study international business—a crucial step to making her dream of sitting on corporate boards a reality. She now serves as a valuable board director for companies, such as Turning Point Brands and O’Leary Ventures, and nonprofit organizations, such as Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Kennedy Center National Symphony Orchestra and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
With her management skills and ability to see the larger picture, in 2015, Davis co-founded West Front Strategies, a bipartisan consulting firm generating millions of dollars—a remarkable feat as she is one of the very few women who own a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. She acts as a lead partner of the firm, advocating for her Fortune 500 clients. Her political knowledge, which she gained from her prior experience working as a deputy director in management and administration and a special assistant to the Homeland Security director, has helped her cultivate the necessary skills to become a leader.
Davis has also ventured into sharing her vast knowledge and experiences across the sectors of politics, health care, education, international trade, business, arts and culture. She contributes insights to news networks, panels and podcasts and speaks at public events as a member of BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.
Across all her roles and activities, Davis’ vision is to uplift women in politics and business spaces. Recognizing the significance of mentorship and empowerment in seemingly impenetrable fields, she strives to bring together people from different walks of life, build a diverse environment where collaboration can thrive and create a safe space for women. Aside from leading and sharing her expertise at West Front Strategies, Davis has paved another path as co-president of Belizean Grove, an organization of influential women who share the mission of seeking solutions for persisting global issues.
In the entrepreneur’s experience, there are two sides to empowerment. On one hand, it is essential to set expectations that make women feel empowered to perform beyond their capabilities. On the other hand, empowerment can also manifest as the courage to seek help. Davis believes acknowledging when one needs help is not a weakness but an act of bravery and confidence.
In addition, Davis emphasizes that helping women climb to the top of the corporate ladder is only a means to an end. The ultimate goal is not only to better enable women to occupy leadership positions but also to champion inclusivity and equality in all companies and organizations. She recognizes this endeavor requires a top-down approach, and as a business owner and board director herself, she sees it as naturally her mission to make institutional changes from the inside out.
Davis’ inspiring journey from a little girl with a dream of reaching a managerial position to a founder and key member of various businesses and organizations serves as a testament to the potential of female leaders across different sectors. But in her eyes, the achievement that makes her most proud is being a mother to her son. “As a working mom, I believe I have what it takes to support various causes for women,” Davis says. “Essentially, I believe in uplifting women. And I want my son to be proud of me and my cause.”
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