"Community engagement has been instilled in me since I was young."
Ashley Pratt, 34, is director of community engagement for Mayo Clinic and the 2022 chair of the JAX Chamber Hightower Emerging Leaders Fellowship. Born near Atlanta and the middle child of three daughters, she lived in several cities and settled in Jacksonville after attending the University of North Florida.
Being director of community engagement at Mayo Clinic is probably the best job I’ve had. It’s ingraining Mayo Clinic into the community further than just a health care system where we see our patients. I oversee all of our social responsibility at Mayo, all of our strategic community engagement activities for the Florida campus. I’m also responsible for executing the community health needs assessment, and for staff engagement and volunteerism and connecting and maintaining partnerships with our community.
Community engagement has been instilled in me since I was young. It’s my Zen moment when I can go out and help other people. A huge passion is elevating others, whether they’re in the community or they’re other young professionals or emerging leaders.
I turned down a scholarship to North Carolina Wesleyan College for lacrosse because I wanted to go to nursing school and they didn’t have a nursing school. UNF did. I quickly realized nursing was not for me. I got my undergrad in health administration and started volunteering at Mayo Clinic, probably in 2008. Then I interned at Mayo. I considered it the right time, the right place. I was able to secure a supervisor job right out of college. That was a huge deal.
I met my husband, Jason, at Mayo. He was a social media specialist. We were doing our 25-year anniversary time capsule videos and he was the videographer. I shared how Mayo has touched me as an employee. I shared when my younger sister passed away 11 years ago and that when I looked up at the funeral, there was probably about 20 people from Mayo that drove down to Orlando to attend the service. That touched him.
Morgan was 19. She was tragically killed in an automobile accident. In 2019 when my daughter was born, we named her Morgan. My parents said, “Well that’s a no-brainer. We knew you would do that. You’ve talked about it forever.”
My advice to emerging leaders would be, get involved in the community so that you can make an impact in the city that you live in. You also can meet others who have that same passion, and you don’t know what door that’s going to open for you. Find that role that’s going to ignite your passion. Then be open to change because what you thought in your 20s was your goal, that could very well change. At the Hightower Fellowship, you get to meet with leaders that you probably wouldn’t have a chance to meet with or hear from, and you may connect with one.
We love being outdoors. We love exploring parks, going on walks, bike rides and traveling. Going on adventures is our biggest thing.
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