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Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Ashley Ward

Senior Policy Associate


Ashley is a climate-health and resilience professional. Her career has focused on engaging communities to identify and address issues related to climate change, and helping communities develop long-term, sustainable strategies relevant to their community needs. Her previous work with NOAA’s Carolinas RISA team connected rural and urban communities and policy-decision makers with relevant climate and health data, particularly related to vulnerabilities and impacts. Engagement with communities across the Carolinas revealed a knowledge and access gap in climate data, wherein many communities did not have the necessary data and expertise to inform decision-making, planning, and preparedness. Ashley and her colleagues at CISA worked with community stakeholders to develop a suite of open-access, web-based tools to address these issues.
Ashley has since continued to bridge the gap between science, data, policy, and community as a Senior Policy Associate at Duke’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. In this role, she works with communities, public agencies, and policymakers to create and inform effective policy solutions to difficult environmental challenges. In addition to work on the health impacts of climate extremes, Ashley has worked on the Internet of Water (IoW) Project, helping public agencies modernize their water data infrastructure to better manage water resources. On the IoW team, Ashley leads stakeholder and policy engagement, pilot programs, and the development of the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) designed to guide public agencies through the organizational and behavioral changes needed to modernize their water data infrastructure. She is currently leading the design and development of a climate-health initiative for the Institute.
Prior to her work with Duke and CISA, Ashley completed her PhD in Geography and worked with communities throughout NC on a host of issues such as local food availability and asset-based economic development strategies. Ashley’s passion is building coalitions to advance scientific understanding and communicate information in a way that is relevant for use by decision-makers. Having worked in a broad range of communities with varying levels of capacity, Ashley is particularly thoughtful about meeting communities where they are and working from there to achieve community goals.