Introducing CASE Scholar Ashley Warrren

Ashley Warren

Ashley Warren CASE ScholarExperienced in school operations management, education, and local government, I joined the MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business to increase my toolkit for generating solutions to challenges in the social impact space. Post MBA, I plan to work on teams improving long-term strategy and operations for social impact-based clients by building efficient practices and inspiring innovation that expands impact.

I have spent nearly a decade working to improve and increase access to high-quality education through public service, teaching, matriculation counseling, and operations management.  My family’s shared experience navigating K-12 and post-secondary public education fuels my passion to support the work of social impact-focused, mission-driven organizations, especially those that shape opportunities for children living in under-resourced communities to compete in an increasingly competitive global society.

My career began as a special assistant and correspondence director in the administration of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty which challenged thoughts on education reform efforts and drew critical national attention to the issue of educational inequities. I further built my foundation for leadership in the education space by teaching elementary English Language Arts at traditional public and public charter schools in Philadelphia and New York City. Prior to Fuqua, I worked as a director of school operations in residence and academic operations manager at Achievement First in Brooklyn, NY.

A native of Belpre, Ohio, a small town in the Appalachian Valley, I am a first-generation college graduate with a B.A. from Howard University and an M. Ed. from Arcadia University.

Why Fuqua?

During the Duke University Fuqua MBA Workshop for Minority Applicants, Dean Bill Boulding said business will be the avenue to change our society for the better; there is a leadership challenge, which business activities will change.  I was immediately drawn to Fuqua’s mission-driven leadership and by profound interactions with students, alumni, and admissions officers.  There was no question that Fuqua would provide both the standard of excellence in professional development as well as the collaborative spirit I expected from an MBA program.

I pride myself in connecting with people and organizations that take initiative and are consistently considered excellent in their field.  CASE is a hub for social entrepreneurship resources, curriculum, and partnerships not just at Duke, but for the broader field nationally.  Fuqua on Board and the Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) are two programs that additionally attracted me to the MBA program at Duke.  Both create experiential learning and networking opportunities unique from other MBA programs.  I will roll up my sleeves, gain invaluable insight from board members, clients, and classmates, and organically build skills needed to reach my long-term goals while contributing directly to the progress of a functioning organization.  Fuqua’s nationally-acclaimed Net Impact Club was also an important factor in my decision.  One of Fuqua’s largest student-led organizations, the Net Impact Club is proof that doing what’s smart and right socially is a priority among students in the MBA program and offers me an unparalleled chance to collaborate with the best leaders at the intersection of business and social impact.

Beyond the rigorous coursework guided by renowned faculty, there is a clear sense of intentionality around the culture that Fuqua creates, and the positivity is contagious.  As an educator, I appreciate deeply that Fuqua classrooms are no-laptop/ no-cellphone spaces, which isn’t the case at all MBA programs.  This seemingly simple, but powerful norm encourages section mates to be fully present with the content and each other, and is one example that speaks to the attention to detail Fuqua leadership puts into developing MBAs prepared to lead anywhere.  Additionally, feedback and continuous improvement are highlighted components of working in teams at Fuqua.  Teamwork is a golden commodity in addressing deep-seated organizational challenges, and through avenues like the COLE Leadership Fellows, Fuqua builds strong team players, which is well known to post-MBA employers.

And lastly, no one can deny the infectious enthusiasm that radiates among Team Fuqua!  I have never had a conversation with a current student at or alum of Fuqua that didn’t incorporate their affection for the Fuqua community.  I have also never had a conversation that didn’t result in me being connected to someone else within the community who can help me realize my goals or with whom I could build an authentic friendship.  Overall, when I considered which program would deliver on rigor, social impact experience, people I want to team up with, and a strong network of alumni, Fuqua was the obvious choice.

What impact do you hope your Fuqua education will allow you to have on the world?

My Fuqua education will allow me to make significant traction towards an ambitious, possible, and necessary goal: shifting the trajectory of school districts in America’s under-resourced communities from working to meet the basic academic achievements of those in more affluent communities to building schools that equip their children to compete with the brightest individuals in the world.  This would involve schools operating with the upmost efficiency, making space to address the specific needs of the population, and innovating programming to keep up with the exciting demands of an increasingly global society.

I have foundational experiences in strategy, operations, and management, but my Fuqua education will fill gaps and accelerate my path towards making innovative, equitable education a large-scale reality through experiential learning, data-driven decision skill building, and strong team leadership experience.  Working through the MBA, I expect to develop an even more sophisticated leadership style that enhances my intuitive servant leadership.  My Fuqua education will help prepare me to lead at the crossroads of business and education with exceptional ability to make high-quality education accessible to all children, one school district at a time.

Share one of the 25 facts from your application essay.

I adore music of all kinds and appreciate the unifying atmosphere a song can create for a group of people. I became the resident DJ at Achievement First Apollo Middle School, dubbed less creatively, “DJ Mrs. Warren,” and I joined a Second Line (New Orleans brass band parade) down a Manhattan street with Jon Batiste, musician and band leader for the Tonight Show with Stephen Colbert, after his performance at Webster Hall. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Duke’s Fuqua School of Business offers scholarships each year to individuals with social sector backgrounds who are looking to acquire business skills for use in their pursuit of social impact. The CASE Social Sector Scholarship brings in amazing students who add a richness to the Fuqua student body and bring their unique perspectives to the classroom.  We are proud to announce our newest CASE Scholars. You can read about our other scholars here.