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The Long Reach of Change

10 August 2015 at 11:42 am
Xavier Smerdon
Ashley Clarke has had a self-described unconventional entrance into the Not for Profit sector, where she now works as a Corporate Partnerships Coordinator and Facilitator at The Reach Foundation. Clarke is this week’s Changemaker.

Xavier Smerdon | 10 August 2015 at 11:42 am


The Long Reach of Change
10 August 2015 at 11:42 am

Ashley Clarke has had a self-described unconventional entrance into the Not for Profit sector, where she now works as a Corporate Partnerships Coordinator and Facilitator at The Reach Foundation. Clarke is this week’s Changemaker.

A serious bicycle accident in 2010 forced Clarke to reevaluate her life, a situation which led her towards The Reach Foundation as a volunteer.

Today she works with Reach full time, and she told Pro Bono Australia News her time at the organisation had changed her life in a myriad of ways.

As this week’s Changemaker, Clarke shares what it is that inspired her and how she found joy in stepping out of her comfort zone.

What are you currently working on in your organisation?

It’s a really exciting time for The Reach Foundation. We have just developed a social enterprise which will take the work that we do with young people into the adult space. My role is to manage the program development, training and capacity building of our facilitators so that we can offer personal and professional development to adults.   

What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?

My journey into the Not for Profit sector has been pretty unconventional. After studying Acting at University I started performing in children’s theatre and running my own social venture, which encouraged connection through unique events.

In 2010 I had a serious bicycle accident which turned my world upside down. I spent months in hospital and rehab recovering and had to learn to walk again; this gave me a lot of time to think. I realised that life is short and that the life that I want to be living is one that has a positive impact on the world and also makes me happy. That’s when a friend invited me to volunteer at The Reach Foundation.

What was your first job in the Not for Profit sector?

It’s been four years since I started with Reach and it has been a huge journey. I started as a crew member volunteering my time on programs where I came across young people who inspired me to live an incredible life. This drove me to travel, go back to university and work on more Reach programs.

I started working as a facilitator, delivering programs with a particular focus on working with disengaged young people. The passion, energy and charisma that these kids had reminded me that leadership comes in many different ways; sometimes it just doesn’t fit into the box.

In my time I have worked on almost every program that Reach delivers with the intention of empowering young people to follow their dreams and reach their full potential. Last year I had the opportunity to deliver workshops in the corporate space. Working with adults in a professional environment was really out of my comfort zone and I loved it. I realised that the challenges, fears and uncertainty that young people face is just as relevant in adults, sometimes it’s just buried a little deeper. This drove me to move into the adult space and now I work in the development team in corporate partnerships, enterprise and producing some of our fundraising events.  

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Working alongside incredible young people. Young people are awesome! They are smart, passionate, driven, caring, funny and courageous. I love that I can book in a workshop for a corporate organisation and watch young facilitators blow adults away with their leadership and sense of self.

I consider my greatest achievement to be …

Probably the fact that I have worked across so many streams without a relevant degree. I believe that you can do anything if you are open and put your mind to it.

Favourite saying …

No rain, no rainbow

Through your work, what is your ultimate dream?

I want to run my own space or venue that connects people through creative events. I am really passionate about people and want to create a hub where like minded people are encouraged to connect, learn and grow as human beings. My ultimate vision would be to have it in a stripped back warehouse space that can constantly be transformed and have a café at the front the sells delicious coffee.

School taught me …

That life is easier when you fit into a box but much more exciting when you have the courage to step outside of it. I had some really amazing teachers who believed in me in high school, they encouraged me to access my creativity and chase my dreams. When I did this I lost a lot of friends but gained a deeper understanding of myself and what actually makes me happy which is my creativity.

What, or who, inspires you?

I am inspired by people who do what makes them happy, this isn’t always an easy road and I think people who are brave enough to take it live much richer lives.

Where do you feel your passion for good came from?

I’m not really sure, I suppose it’s intrinsic. I have a strong sense of justice and couldn’t imagine working for something that has no meaning. I really want to live a life that has a positive impact on the world. This may be linked to the struggles my family has faced in the past, I don’t really know, working for a greater cause just feels right.

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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