by Christine Salinas

Pivotal is thrilled to welcome Ashlee Jemmott as Director of Strategic Partnerships. In her new role, Ashlee will work towards creating positive change within the foster care ecosystem. We caught up with Ashlee to learn more about her journey into nonprofit work and the road that brought her to this new role at Pivotal.

CS: Ashlee, welcome to Pivotal! It’s great to have you on board!

Ashlee: Thanks! I’m excited to be here, ready to make things better for foster youth.

CS: I’ve heard you say that education has played a vital role in your life. Can you speak to that?

Ashlee: Yes. No matter where you start or where you come from, I feel that education allows you to create the life you want. When I was a sophomore at San Jose State University, I was a Pivotal scholarship recipient. That program changed the way that I saw myself because I knew that in order to be different from what I experienced as a kid, I’d have to strive more and want more for myself. Every time I had to pick up the pieces from something that happened - whether I caused it or someone else did - I learned something new about myself.  

CS: What type of support did you get as a Pivotal scholar?

Ashlee: Well, I mentioned that I received the scholarship my sophomore year, but my junior year, I lost it. My GPA was a 1 point something, my relationships weren’t going well, I was unmotivated in school and I just couldn’t keep up so I lost the scholarship. I realized I needed to do something different, and that’s where my Pivotal coaches, Ashley and Sherri helped me a lot. They connected me to mental health services that I really needed and kept me accountable to the plans I had for myself. I took time off, went back to New York to stay with my grandmother, regrouped, and came back stronger my senior year.

CS: What happened next?

Ashlee: During the second half of my senior year, Pivotal arranged a paid internship at Xilinx for me. What I loved about that internship was that every few weeks, I rotated to a new department and that gave me a chance to work in human resources, global leadership, university relations, and compliance. Turns out that I really enjoyed working in compliance! In fact, that internship piqued my interest in business, which eventually led me to earn an MBA a few years later. I earned that degree by taking evening classes at Lorry I Lokey Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College while working full-time.

CS: It’s amazing that one single experience could have had such an impact on your career!

Ashlee: Yes, I’ve had a pretty interesting career. I’ve worked in fundraising, created youth development programs, helped with academic advising, contributed to the chartering of an elementary school, and supported payroll. In all those cases, I've helped multi-involved system youth reach their potential. I’m able to connect with that population and pull from the same places and that’s why I’m so excited to be here at Pivotal. There’s a lot of red tape for these kids and I want to be a part of the conversation that makes things easier and better for them.

CS: Thanks, Ashlee, for sharing your time with our readers. We can't wait to see you in action! 

Ashlee: Thanks! I'm really excited about this new role!