To Tell Their Stories
A glamorous film and stage actress might be the last person you’d expect to be holding the hand of a child in a slum in Mumbai…or traveling to Kenya, South Africa, Thailand, Cambodia and India to talk about condom use, hygiene and sanitation, legal empowerment, or access to micro-financing. She might not be who you’d picture visiting with families in Appalachia whose children draw water as black or red because they don't know creek water is supposed to run clear--or who listens to stories of busted unions and miners with chronic health problems. Ashley Judd is such a person. From horrifying brothels and degrading slums in Third World countries to environmentally ravaged communities here in America, Judd is committed to telling the stories of the people she meets. Judd has been very open about her own struggles, including depression. She believes that mental illness need not be treated with a sense of secrecy or stigma, and that her own journey has made her an even more effective advocate for others facing their own issues. Judd is an impressive presenter, stunning audiences with information that not only educates, but stirs the spirit.
A favorite speaker at women’s conferences and gatherings, Ashley’s honest, moving and always deeply relatable stories yield personal insights and practical tools that can be applied to everyone’s life. Whether it is her own personal story of surviving sexual abuse, her work around the world to end sex trafficking, or her leadership at the forefront of the #MeToo/Times Up movement, Ashley talks about all of it with expertise born of lived experience. As a global activist and advocate, Ashley gives voice to the power women have when their stories are heard.
Ashley speaks expertly and movingly on addiction and other disorders - alcoholism, drug addiction, anorexia and bulimia and other forms of self-harm - based on her years of lived personal experience and having watched for years as family members struggled with these diseases. She can describe the impact of addiction on those who suffer from it, and on their loved ones, as well as the hard but rewarding work involved in individual recovery and the resulting improvement in entire relationship systems. Based on her travels to twenty developing countries, where she has seen alcoholism plaguing entire societies, Ashley can also speak on the role addiction plays in perpetuating inequality, poverty and violence on a global scale.
Mental Health: What we do not transform in ourselves, we will transfer to others.
Ashley both grew up with mental illness in her family and speaks with authority on the topic of the mental illness epidemic in our society. She offers vivid personal examples of how her own life was affected, effective suggestions about how to love and support those who suffer, and information about evidence-based methods of treatment, and how to reduce stigma.
Her beloved mother, Naomi, lived for years with undiagnosed and untreated bipolar and PTSD, her father had depression, and in 2006 Ashley herself went to in-patient treatment to heal the emotional pain stemming from unresolved childhood trauma, grief and abuse. There, she learned recovery as a way of life, something she practices on a daily basis. Pushing back against generations of mental illness and the often-dysfunctional behaviors of those who must cope with a loved one’s disease. Ashley tells an ultimately hopeful story about thriving and resilience from which everyone can learn, garner deep inspiration, and personally relate to.
In addition to childhood sexual abuse, Ashley is a survivor of childhood neglect and abandonment. Having lived entirely alone for two years as an adolescent, with neither adult supervision nor any outreach from social services, Ashley tells a shocking story of a family in which love was present, but of a child who was nonetheless abused and abandoned. Out of this experience, Ashley has created a vivid account of hope, survival, and ultimately, personal triumph, which explains her profound commitment to child welfare across the globe, including her travel to 20+ developing countries as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Populations Fund. Ashley speaks expertly about the role that individuals, families, communities, organizations, and governments must play in keeping children safe and allowing them to flourish.
Growing up in the Appalachian mountains in a family affected by strip mining, Ashley saw from a young age the catastrophic effects coal mining had not just on the physical environment, but on the surrounding communities where poverty is widespread, and health and social outcomes are often poor. A vocal opponent of mountain top removal coal mining, she has been outspoken on this subject for years. She has also visited mineral mines in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and diamond mines in South Africa, witnessing the environmental devastation as well as the connections between mining, child labor, and local sexual violence.
Related to Ashley’s environmental mission is her love of animals. Previously on the board of Defenders of Wildlife, Ashley was one of the leaders of a high profile campaign opposing the aerial hunting of wolves in Alaska. The endangered bonobos of the Congolese rain forest have also captured her attention and concern. On her trips to the Congo, Ashley lives in a rough camp and follows the bonobos from “nest to nest,” observing their behavior while accompanied by a renowned primatologist.
Connecting all these diverse strands, Ashley tells a wildly diverse and unique environmental story that encompasses our urgent need to transition to sustainable energy sources, the ineffable and necessary benefits of spending time outdoors, and the welfare of human, animal and plant life across the planet.
Known throughout the world as a global activist and humanitarian, Ashley’s passion for advocacy started early. At the age of twenty, Ashley become a campus organizer and voice for social justice causes while attending the University of Kentucky. Hearing a member of the board of trustees use a racial slur during a discussion about divesting the school’s funds from Apartheid South Africa, Ashley, a member of an all-white sorority, reached out to the African American organizations at her school, which resulted in the first ever such alliance. She was responsible for creating and leading a campus-wide classroom walkout protesting his refusal to resign from the board of trustees. As she learned more about everything from Apartheid to political prisoners of conscience, she helped organize marches on the state capital, candlelight vigils, and more, all on behalf of various causes she came to believe in.
Ashley addresses both how to find our passion and make a sustainable difference, and how to live our passions while honoring the differences we may have with others, especially those closest to us.
Renowned humanitarian Ashley Judd receives glowing reviews as a sought-after speaker on mental health awareness
Celebrated actress and renowned global humanitarian ASHLEY JUDD is in-demand as a speaker on mental health awareness, sought after for events with corporations, annual conferences, and on the world’s stage. A highly-regarded advocate and activist for decades, Judd uses her gift for storytelling to share her experiences working in communities across the globe, and regularly receives glowing reviews, such as: "Ashley was an absolutely fabulous speaker. She was poised, serene, generous, and funny! She spoke honestly and from the heart about her experience with and recovery from major depression. (..) She shared how she has overcome suicidal depression and not only learned to survive but to thrive. Many people in the audience were moved to tears and she received a standing ovation." (Hope for Depression Research Foundation)
Judd, who is heralded for starring roles in box office hits and award-winning independent films, has been a vocal advocate for those without a voice from an early age, and has shared her personal experiences with mental illness and recovery. She even penned an Op-Ed for the New York Times about improving the way law enforcement and the government responds to mental health emergencies. In a recent profile also in the New York Times, Ashley reflected on a year of grief.
Speaking from the heart, she weaves together personal and universal stories of resiliency, courage, and the power of vulnerability for growth, sharing what it takes to overcome one’s trauma to live a fulfilling life. Hosts and audiences alike are deeply moved by her presentations, and the praise is consistent: “Ashley Judd walked onto the Ford Hall Forum stage and hit it straight out of the park from her first word to her last. She is not only incredibly intelligent and a top-notch presenter, but also thoroughly knowledgeable and committed... It was clear that the audience found Judd completely captivating and a true inspiration.” (Ford Hall)
Ashley Judd shares powerful remarks on Time's Up at Embrace Ambition Summit
Renowned actress and activist ASHLEY JUDD was sought-out to speak at the Tory Burch Foundation's International Women's Day event, the Embrace Ambition Summit. Participating in a crucial and passionate conversation on the Time's Up movement and the summit's theme, "Challenging Stereotypes and Creating New Norms," Judd opened up about coming forward with her own story and her continued advocacy work on behalf of women. Powerful, candid, and illuminating, the conversation was live-streamed, and made headlines in Fast Company, Refinery29, PureWow, and more. Judd and the panel also garnered tweets of praise, such as: "This #TimesUp panel with
@TinaTchen, @GretchenCarlson, & @AshleyJudd was so inspiring, I think it shifted the paradigm in real time."
Heralded for bringing her remarkable life experiences and passionate activism to life at each and every engagement, Judd shares insights on issues ranging from women's health, to mental health, to global citizenship, to the environment. Rave reviews from past events include: "Awesome doesn't begin to describe it. You would have been proud, moved and inspired. It could not have been a better evening... The theater was sold out and overflowing with 2800 people. Ashley was wonderful from start to finish in every way and she was so warm and gracious with everyone she met." (The Connecticut Forum)
Ashley is a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress who adroitly stars in both indie gems and box office hits. A feminist and social justice humanitarian, she is the UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, advocating for the sexual and reproductive rights and health for girls and women worldwide. She has traveled to 22 countries, spending time in brothels, refugee camps, hospices, and slums, learning directly from the vulnerable and resilient about male sexual violence and how to overcome gender inequality. Her New York Times bestselling book, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, chronicles these journeys. Her forthcoming travels summer 2023 are to Slovakia, Ukraine, and the Sahel.
Ashley graduated from the Honors Program at the University of Kentucky and earned an MPA from Harvard`s John F. Kennedy's School of Government. Her paper, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice, was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award at Harvard Law School. She has been Leader in Residence at the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard`s Kennedy School.
She serves on several boards, including the International Center for Research on Women, the Rape and Incest National Network, Demand Abolition, the Gloria Steinem Sex Equality Fund to End Trafficking in Women, and is Ambassador for Culture Reframed (focusing on the public health crisis of pornography). She is Chairperson of the Women’s Media Center Speak Project: Curbing Abuse, Expanding Freedom. Her TED Talk about online misogyny has over two million views.
She is a sought after public speaker and frequent OpEd author on topics as diverse as conflict mineral mineral mining and child marriage. Recently, she wrote in the New York Times about her beloved mother`s death by suicide and the need for privacy laws in such tragedies.
Ashley was Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2017 as one of the Silence Breakers. In 2019, the United Nations honored her as Global Advocate of the Year.
Ashley lives part of each year in the Central African rain forest in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where her partner has a bonobo research camp. Bonobos, our closest living relatives, are egalitarian, matriarchal, and free from male sexual violence. Their stable and peaceful societies are undergirded by female coalitions. They give her hope.