Ashley Cowan D’Ambrosio

A headshot of Ashley outdoors in a bright green shirt smiling at the camera. Ashley is a white woman with long wavy brown hair and is wearing earrings.

COVID-19 and Higher Education Program Manager

Ashley Cowan D’Ambrosio (she/her) is a Mad/Mentally Ill, Chronically Ill, Queer, Disabled activist, educator and entrepreneur. She currently serves as the COVID-19 and Higher Education Program Manager, building out AAPD’s advocacy program to ensure access to education for people with disabilities across the nation. Ashley worked for years as a disability activist, researching the systems and incentives structures which create inequities in access to society for disabled people, focusing primarily on access to higher education. As its Director (2017-19), Ashley worked during her undergraduate program to scale the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Student Disability Commission (SDC )into a “juggernaut of advocacy”. The SDC was developed to promote the transfer of institutional knowledge between generations of advocates and was responsible for the founding of the ASUW Office of Inclusive Design; a new program designed to increase the utilization of inclusive design within student life. Shortly after graduation, she partnered with other members of the disability community to found Crip Riot, a disabled-owned and led company committed to bringing expressions of disability pride to the world, through unapologetic clothing, media, education and activism. She also has experience building a Human Resources department from the ground up and working as an HR Consultant to support organizations in building scalable solutions to systemic challenges with accessibility, equity and growth. Ashley is a current Affiliate of the Disability Studies Program at the University of Washington (UW) and provides various guest lectures in the UW College of Education and Disability Studies program. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Disability Studies from the University of Washington with minors in Education and Diversity. She is a current part-time graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Disability Studies with The City University of New York (CUNY) and is expected to graduate in 2024. Her research interests center around incorporating theories of “Crip Spacetime” into higher education instructional design (Universal/Inclusive Design), through distance learning integration, self-paced, asynchronous instruction, etc. It is her experience as a non-traditional, first-gen, chronically-ill, mad/mentally-ill high school-dropout, which has motivated a desire to explore the narratives and contexts of disabled students who have been criminalized, pathologized, and/or traumatized as part of their educational journey.