19-year-old Adam Ashley uses his platform and his passion for public service to speak up for students who haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as him. “I attended a school that had a lot of people living very different lives than my own and didn't have the same opportunities given to me because of my identity,” he recalled. “Much of my early student advocacy work was focused on empowering those in my school [and] community that did not have the same opportunities to speak out.”
“Much of my early student advocacy work was focused on empowering those in my school [and] community that did not have the same opportunities to speak out.”
When Adam was a junior in high school, he ran for the student position on his county's school board. Though he didn’t win, he made it from the original pool of 45 applicants to the final three. While he always had a passion for leadership, this experience helped him understand the power of his voice. “Watching young leaders from across my county engage [with] and understand what I was saying and what my motives were in pushing to make a change, I felt a sense of belonging,” he said.
Now, Adam is the co-founder of The Greater Good Initiative, a youth-led policy think-tank to promote youth engagement and mobilization in the policymaking process. He uses his platform to uplift the voices of those who don't have the same platform and empowers young people through politics and policymaking. He previously served on the Fairfax County Public Schools Student Advisory Council, where he presented policy and program recommendations to the County Leadership Team.
As an exceptional Gen Z’er making an impact, he was honored for his work in politics through The ConversationaLIST. “I use my voice for good by informing and empowering those who don't yet know how to use their voice,” he said. “I strive to focus on using my voice to help give back to those who help make the world function.”
“I use my voice for good by informing and empowering those who don't yet know how to use their voice."
Adam advises young people who are still seeking to find their voice to figure out what they’re most passionate about and learn everything they can about it. “There always needs to be an expert in the room on some topic, and focusing on becoming the expert has opened so many doors and conversations for me,” he explained.
Looking ahead to the future, Adam hopes to run for public office again. “I want to be in history books as a triumphant, impactful politician and leader,” he said.
Adam is an active member of The Conversationalist community. He resonates with its mission to empower Gen Z because it runs parallel to The Greater Good Initiative. “[GGI] also strives to break open echo chambers and foster bipartisanship within the organization and through our policy,” he said.
He believes that a unified world is more empathetic and tolerant of ideological differences. “I think the polarization of politics is creating a toxic environment for people our age to grow up in, especially as young people continue to become more educated at younger and younger ages,” he said.
“I think the polarization of politics is creating a toxic environment for people our age to grow up in."
He hopes that Gen Z can unify by continuing to break open echo chambers and push for more tolerance and representation in politics and media. He also seeks to engage in productive discussions in which everyone is open to hearing different perspectives. “I think having friends who live and think differently than you is a small thing that we all can do to help push for a more unified, yet diverse, society,” he said.