Back to All Blog Posts

Ethan Ashley Selected as One of Nation's Outstanding Rising Leaders

Ethan Ashley with group

Washington, D.C. – Today, New Orleans School Board Member Ethan Ashley was selected as one of 19 leaders from across the country to join the NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders), a selective national network of state and local elected officials with about 200 members, with Honorary Co-Chairs U.S. Senator Chris Coons and Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.

Members of the network have been chosen from more than 2,000 nominations over NewDEAL’s 13 years, and are united by their work to enact pro-growth progressive solutions across their diverse array of communities. As part of NewDEAL, they are recognized for their pragmatic, forward-thinking approach and commitment to making government work to solve challenges facing their constituents. Members have included U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who joined as a mayor, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, and New Orleans Senator Royce Duplessis.

Ashley joins the group at a time when state and local leaders are on the frontlines of responding to economic issues around the cost of living and the changing nature of work, as well as challenges caused by climate change, racial inequities, threats to our democracy, and emerging technologies. At a moment when unprecedented federal resources are flowing to states, counties, and cities from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and Inflation Reduction Act, NewDEALers are supporting each other in thinking big and sharing model policies and programs, including through in-person and virtual convenings.

In one effort, NewDEAL has tracked effective uses of ARPA funds, which continue to be disbursed at the state and local levels, highlighting some of the innovative ways members of the network have improved the quality of life in their communities. NewDEALers also led a working group that released a Democracy Playbook, featuring actionable steps elected officials across all levels of state and local government can take to strengthen elections. NewDEAL Leaders’ work also has contributed to reports of policy recommendations on education, climate change, broadband, and the future of work.

NewDEALers’ next major convening will take place at the 2023 Leaders Conference, November 15-17 in Washington, DC, where about 60 members will join other innovators from the public and private sectors to discuss a forward-looking agenda for state and local Democrats to address the biggest challenges facing our country, including A.I., housing, education, climate change, and threats to our democracy.

Ashley was selected to join NewDEAL because of his dedication to improving outcomes, access, experiences and environments for all students. As a parent and immediate past President of the Orleans Parish School Board, he has focused on tackling critical equity and accountability issues like the school-to-prison-pipeline. With the support of his colleagues, Ashley delivered on a multi-layered strategy including: 1) Co-authoring a resolution to ensure that young people in the criminal justice system are given alternative solutions and reduced school-based arrest to under 10%; 2) Improving the education and supports provided to students in the criminal justice system by changing the funding formula to allocate more money and partnering with city council to secure additional resources, which resulted in over 15 high school diploma earned and statewide recognition for student achievement. This school is now only one of two of its kind in the whole country and is the only kind in the state; 3) Investing $1,000,000 in funding for the Center for Resilience, which provides services to students with severe mental and emotional needs; 4) Increasing mental health supports and training for schools with a historic 10 million dollar investment and partnership with the City of New Orleans and Children’s Hospital’s ThriveKids program; and 5) Launching the first ever career center to provide our students job training for high wage jobs.

He also co-founded School Board Partners, a national non-profit organization that connects emerging, inspired, and diverse elected community leaders serving on local school boards with the training, support and mentorship needed to successfully push for high quality anti-racist school systems.

NewDEAL Leaders have found broad support for their work across red, blue, and purple states and cities, with more than 20 rising to higher office in the past few years. Throughout the organization’s history, more than one in four NewDEAL Leaders has moved to higher office. These leaders include members of Congress, such as Marilyn Strickland in Washington, Brittany Pettersen in Colorado, and Jennifer McClellan in Virginia, Governor Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania, and new Mayors in cities from San Jose, CA to Stamford, CT.

“We are in a vitally important moment for state and local leaders- post pandemic and with ongoing racial conflict- because our communities are hungry for results, development and leadership focused on improving the conditions on the ground to strengthen students, families, and our communities,” said Ashley. “I look forward to sharing lessons with and learning from other leaders who are setting the standard for effective governance because positive impact is what our communities deserve, and I am excited to be part of NewDEAL’s efforts to expand opportunities for Americans in communities nationwide.”

About NewDEAL

The NewDEAL brings together leaders focused on expanding opportunity, helping them develop and spread innovative ideas to spur economic growth that is broadly-earned and sustainable. Most importantly, the organization facilitates the exchange of ideas among its members and connects them with other pro-growth progressive political, policy, and private sector leaders.

Today’s announcement brings the total number of NewDEAL members – statewide officials, legislators, mayors, councilmembers, and other local leaders – to 206 leaders from 49 states.

Learn more about Douglass and the NewDEAL at

The new class of NewDEAL Leaders includes:
Alabama: Representative Phillip Ensler
Arizona: Representative Laura Terech
Colorado: Representative Meghan Lukens
Georgia: Representative Tanya Miller
Iowa: Representative Megan Srivinas
Illinois: Representative Bob Morgan
Louisiana: New Orleans School Board Member Ethan Ashley
Minnesota: Representative Zack Stephenson
Nebraska: Lincoln Councilmember Tom Beckius
New Jersey: Assemblymember Raj Mukherji
New Mexico: Albuquerque School Board Member Danielle Gonzales
Oklahoma: Representative Arturo Alonso
Oregon: Representative Ben Bowman
Oregon: Bend School Board Member Carrie Douglass
Pennsylvania: Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis
Pennsylvania: Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton
Texas: Representative Salman Bhojani
Virginia: Senator Aaron Rouse
Wisconsin: Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson