Ashley Kolaya is an audience engagement expert, mental health advocate and youth voice champion with more than 15 years of experience building and growing social impact programs and communities.
Kolaya spent her early career in civic engagement education. As Senior Director of the Kentucky YMCA Youth Association, she developed and oversaw programming promoting leadership, democracy and advocacy for the nation’s largest Youth in Government program. She also served as a youth engagement and mental health programming advisor to YMCA’s around the world.
Kolaya has spent the last decade exploring how to meaningfully connect with and inspire audiences. At TED, she built and scaled programming for the global youth voice initiative, TED-Ed, and was the founding Director of Curation and Coaching for TED Masterclass, serving as lead Speaker Coach, event and series producer, host, facilitator, writer and editor.
Kolaya has worked in academia (lecturing at NYU), spent time as a consultant in the tech and public service sectors, and she has a deep background in community building, learning design, coaching and facilitation.
Most recently, Ashley founded Third Space, a boutique communication consultancy that uses audience-centered storytelling to accelerate social impact.