Please contact a GDA agent for information.
- Abuse / Domestic Violence
- Activism / Philanthropy / Civic Engagement
- Children and Youth Health
- Courage / Heroism
- Inspiration / Achievement
Click on the topic name to see other speakers tagged with this topic.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter New York Times Best Selling Author of Three Little Words
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW is the quintessential American success story.
Born to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 Ashley was in Florida’s foster
care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14
homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home
at the age of twelve.
Despite her ordeal, she excelled in school because she believed that, “my
education was the one thing nobody could take from me.” Early in her life
she felt compelled to advocate for herself and the other children she lived
with, particularly in the abusive foster homes.
Her efforts and academic achievements landed her Eckerd College’s Trustee
Scholarship—the school’s most prestigious full-tuition award. She graduated
with honors and ahead of schedule earning a double major in
Communications and Theater and a double minor in Political Science and
Psychology. Ashley then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work
from the University of Southern California.
During her undergraduate studies, she was one of 20 college students
selected for the USA Today All-USA Academic Team and was named one of
GLAMOUR Magazine’s Top Ten College Women. Ashley was also chosen as
one of the four Golden BR!CK Award winners for outstanding advocacy for
community change by the national organization, Do Something. As part of
their campaign, she was featured on 25 million bags of Cool Ranch Doritos.
Her accomplishments advocating for children and families won her the Youth
Advocate of the Year for the North American Council on Adoptable Children,
the Kids to Kids National Service Award from the Child Welfare League of
America, and two Angels in Adoption Awards from the Congressional
Coalition on Adoption.
How It All Started…
On June 1, 2003, the New York Times Magazine published her grand prize
winning essay about her adoption day. She expanded her essay into a
memoir, Three Little Words, which was published by Simon & Schuster in
January 2008 and quickly became a New York Times, then International
bestseller. Her memoir is currently being made into a major motion picture.
The book has been adopted by schools and communities as part of One
School, One Book; and collegiate First Year Experience initiatives across the
country. Ashley’s second book, Three More Words, debuted as a #1
In the Media
Internationally recognized, Ashley has been featured on The Today Show,
Good Morning America, Nightline, Nancy Grace, ABC Primetime, Montel
Williams, and other national media outlets. She frequently appears in local
television and newspaper markets when she travels for her speeches. She
hosted a television program called “Explore Adoption” which was produced
by the State of Florida to raise the public’s awareness of foster children in
need of loving and permanent homes. This segment won an Emmy in 2009.
In 2010, Ashley was selected to represent and mentor as part of Levi’s
Shape What’s To Come campaign, an online, global community for women
that offers opportunities to exchange ideas, collaborate, and provide support
to one another. Her work with Levi’s was featured at the TED Women’s
Conference in Washington, D.C.
Ashley has spent time in Europe, South Africa, and China studying and
advocating. In her local community, she has served as a volunteer Guardian
ad Litem (or CASA) and as a foster parent has cared for more than 25
children. Her eldest son is adopted from foster care. Ashley is
tremendously passionate about her non-profit organization, The Foundation
for Sustainable Families, which provides direct services to children and
families in high-risk and high-conflict situations.
Her speaking career began at the age of fourteen as a child advocate. Since
then, Ashley’s story has been shared with countless audiences. She has
spoken on Capitol Hill, has been invited to the White House, and has taught
at numerous colleges and conferences for businesses, health care
professionals, educators, elected officials, judges, social workers, policy
makers, teens, and families.
Ashley has turned her pain into power and she has a passion to share her
story with those who have experienced adversity. Ashley strives to
encourage education, compassion, community involvement, and positive
outcomes for individuals, youth, and families.