Getting America Back to Work
- By Thomas James Weaver
As much of the nation begins to carefully reopen from pandemic lockdowns, governors are among leaders developing strategies to help their states’ economies restart and rebound. Alumna Kate Ash ’10, an independent consultant working with the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, is helping shape that process with her experience and expertise, a good deal of it earned through her work helping Vermont recover from Tropical Storm Irene.
Ash supports the center’s future of work initiative and is interested in helping states develop cutting-edge solutions for getting people back to work and adapting to an increasingly automated economy. Among the greatest challenges, Ash notes, is making sure that leaders are receiving sufficient and accurate information in the midst of the difficult circumstances. “During disaster, managing information can easily spiral into a crisis of its own,” she says.
A native of Bristol, Vermont, Ash studied political science and French for her UVM bachelor’s degree, and served as vice president of the Student Government Association as well. She was later awarded the John L. Weinberg Fellowship to pursue a Master in Public Policy from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Ash’s professional experience includes work in public outreach, focused on economic development and healthy communities, as an advisor to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and the Senate Appropriations Committee. Her passion for philanthropy and entrepreneurship also drives Ash’s volunteer work as a University of Vermont Foundation Board Fellow, and as a founding board member of Uproot Homes, a national nonprofit dedicated to building home equity for America's servicemembers.
In the aftermath of the devastating tropical storm, Ash served as Deputy Irene Recovery Officer in Vermont, splitting time between the State Emergency Operations Center and traveling throughout the state to help local leaders access resources for recovery. Her work helped leverage public-private partnerships, enabling more than 60,000 Vermonters to rebuild their homes restoring state infrastructure. “During Irene, I witnessed firsthand that opportunity can emerge from disaster with the right leadership, a commitment to collaboration and an unrelenting focus on helping the most vulnerable,” Ash says. “These are Vermont values, and it has been incredibly rewarding to bring our small state’s approach to resiliency to the forefront of my work nationwide on Covid-19.”