We’re welcoming home a familiar face, as former BrightHouse Strategy Director and Thinker Ashley Grice takes the role of our new CEO. Ashley makes her return to the family as the current President of the Emory Alumni Board and former Chief Client Officer, North America of iris Worldwide. As a Princeton University graduate and Emory University MPH and MBA, she brings a passion for education, leadership, and social impact to the BrightHouse team. Now let’s get to know a little more about her:
As a former BrightHouse Strategy Director and Thinker, do you have a favorite story from your time at pre-Ponce City Market BrightHouse?
“The BrightHouse space on Lowry Street was not an open office concept like it is here at Ponce. We did share offices, but were still sequestered from much of the team. Naturally, the kitchen became our gathering place, much like in a real home. We would stand around, eating and talking, and eventually becoming in someone’s way. So, we adopted the kitchen booth – a bright yellow one we nicknamed “the McDonald’s booth” – that became our proverbial water cooler. It was meant to hold four people, but we would sometime squeeze in up to nine, as it was open to anyone who wanted to contribute to the conversation. It was a unique meeting place that offered a lot of organic inspiration. We shared stories, laughs, ideas, and casual ideations in that booth, and I can remember sitting there like it was yesterday.”
Something I’m sure you’re familiar with, is one of our favorite sayings that, “the fruit is in the roots.” So, how have your roots shaped you?
“I’ve always been a learner, and I really enjoy school. I’ve been to grad school twice and plan to go back again at some point, much to the dismay of my husband. I believe I am this way because I had very supportive and open-minded parents, who taught me the importance of independence, education, and confidence. My career path has not been a traditional one, and I’ve found enjoyment and unique benefit in very different types of jobs – and have returned to work for a former employer more than once. I love being with people every day, having discussions, presenting, and learning together. I try to instill in my children the lessons my parents instilled in me, encouraging them to work hard but also ensure they find love and joy in what they do. I’ve been lucky to work at places where I’ve found both, which is why those experiences have felt like putting down my own roots and creating family – like the family I look forward to enjoying at BrightHouse.”
As President of the Emory Alumni Board and now BrightHouse CEO, what are some experiences you’ve had in leading social impact work in our local community?
“In regard to social impact, there is a lot of gravity and influence in the work BrightHouse does. And something I’m passionate about is staying engaged with our community. When I worked at BrightHouse in 2003, we engaged in pro-bono work with the Atlanta Police Foundation. At our presentation, I was lucky to be the presenter to then-Mayor Shirley Franklin and the Atlanta Chief of Police, and interface with the 20+ officers we interviewed as part of the process. Hearing them speak about the issues they faced in our community, and how BrightHouse was going to help solve them, grounded me in the importance of our work and how it can support someone’s calling. I’ve since taken the initiative to stay engaged in the community, graduating from Leadership Atlanta in 2015 and working as a board member of L.E.A.D – an organization that helps at-risk youth graduate high school by using baseball as an enabler – because I think it addresses a real need in our community in an impactful way. And now as President of the Emory Alumni board, I am using my year of leadership to support the new University president and ensure that Emory alumni engage with the Atlanta community in a way that is meaningful and measurable.”
What are some interesting things about you the world doesn’t know?
“Let’s see…I’ve had tea with the former King of Malaysia. I hold a swimming record, to this day, in my hometown. And my second chapter aspiration is to be a young adult fiction writer. Steven King’s book, On Writing, is something I read a lot for inspiration. I’m also big “re-reader,” so when I find a book that sticks with me, I tend to go back to it a lot—John Irving’s works especially. A few other favorites I tend to re-read are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter (which I’m now reading for the umpteenth time), anything by Donna Tartt, and A Prayer for Owen Meany, all great books that offer something new every time you pick them up. I have a few of my old favorites in my office so I can pick them up at any time and read a bit, or loan them out.”
Lastly, how do you want to change the world?
“Rejoining BrightHouse challenged me to call on my purpose, which I see as bringing together unique partnerships to create beautiful things. As part of the purpose process I was challenged to list my talents and strengths, which lie in the field of creative pattern recognition, spatial visualization, logic puzzles, and bringing people together diplomatically. What keeps me up at night is society’s divisiveness despite that, as human beings, we are all so much more alike than we are different. I hope to use my purpose to instill more partnerships – likely or unlikely – and to create and enable bearers of change through companies, leadership teams, or individuals that will improve how we treat one another.”