He who opens a school door, closes a prison.
— Victor Hugo


Ethan Ashley was born and raised in Compton, California. At the age of 16, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, a law magnet high school in Los Angeles, California.  After high school, he continued his education at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Juris Doctorate by the age of 22. While in D.C., Ethan worked for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

During his studies at Howard and after the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Ethan dedicated over a week’s worth of service each year since 2006 to the city of New Orleans. To continue his efforts of rebuilding New Orleans, Ethan, immediately after graduation from law school, moved to New Orleans to work as a first-year staff attorney and project director 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.

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.  In September of 2014, Ethan Ashley joined the Urban League of Greater New Orleans as the Director of Community Engagement. As Director of Community Engagement, Ethan led the community and partnership based work in education, criminal justice, and civic engagement. Ethan created and led an educational leadership community program called Urban Leaders for Equity and Diversity (ULEAD), a juvenile alternative to detention program called Community Coaching, and various civil engagement activities including the High School Civic Engagement Challenge. Currently, Ethan is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Louisiana Children’s Research Center for Development and Learning, where he leads the community, organizing and partnership based work as well as the policy initiatives statewide and nationally.

With regard to service, Ethan has raised thousands of dollars for and as a board member of Youth Run NOLA, a local non-profit organization focused on empowering underserved youth through running. Ethan has served as immediate past community service chair for the Louis A. Martinent Legal Society, a voluntary bar association whose mission is to balance justice and effect change. Ethan was also the previous director of a voluntary literacy program at the Youth Study Center in New Orleans. He is a proud member and mentor for the Son of a Saint, a non-profit focused on enhancing the lives of fatherless young males. Ethan is an advisory 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.

Ethan has conducted 4 graduation ceremonies, including most recently Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School, and 3 college declaration ceremonies. He has presented at numerous conferences, including the National Charter School Conference, Teacher for America Leaders of Color Conference, PIE Conference, and the Black Alliance for Educational Options Conference. He has also conducted “Know Your Rights” trainings to over 1,000 youth in New Orleans.

Ethan is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Ethan is a 2014 fellow of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Network. During his fellowship, he created and still maintains a Black Male Leadership program called the New Orleans Black Male Achievement Network (NOBMAN).  Ethan is the proud co-owner of JE Howard Ventures, an investment company that specializes in community development. Above all, Ethan is a member of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church and is a strong advocate for youth justice, civil rights, and servant leadership.



Howard University

Bachelor of Science, Political Science 

(Completed four-year degree in three years Magna Cum Laude)



Howard University School of Law

Juris Doctor



  • Leadership Management and Development 
  • Strategic Planning and Logistical Coordination 
  • Program and Fund Development 
  • Organizing and Community and Partnership Engagement 
  • Public Motivational Speaking and Guest Lectures 


Organization and Charity Affliation 

  • Democratic National Party            

  • Louisiana Democratic Party 

  • Louisiana New Leaders Council 

  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. New Orleans Alumni Chapter 

  • Louis A. Martinet Law Society 

  • Urban League of Greater New Orleans Young Professional 

  • Youth Run NOLA 

  • Girls on the Run of New Orleans 

  • Son of a Saint 

  • Bard Early College New Orleans 

  • Pleasant Zion Enrichment Camp 

  • Live Oak Camp

  • Susan G. Komen New Orleans

  • National MS Society 

  • Nexus City Fellow 

  • W.K. Kellogg Community Leadership Fellow 

  • Greater New Orleans Foundation Emerging Leaders Fellow 

  • Institute of Politics at Loyola University 

  • Howard University New Orleans Alumni

  • Boy Scouts of America, Southeast Louisiana Council

  • Louis A. Martinet Legal Society

  • New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI) 



Recent Awards  

  • 2016 James Comey Community Leadership Award 

  • 40 under 40 Youth Empowerment Project 

  • 2017 Millennials Changemaker Award

  • 2017 Youth Champion Award, Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies

  • 2018 Yo! of the Yea, NOLAKOOLKIDS