Ashley SawyerSenior Staff Attorney, Opportunity to Learn
Ashley Sawyer is committed to well-being and access to joy for young people, especially Black girls. Ashley is a Senior Staff Attorney on the Opportunity to Learn (Education) team at Advancement Project. From 2018-2021, she was the Senior Director of Campaigns at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) in Brooklyn, NY. At GGE Ashley worked to ensure that cis and trans girls and non-binary youth are heard by elected officials and that their needs are reflected in city and state policy decisions. Ashley’s life work is situated where education justice and the criminal legal system collide, to that end, she is committed to dismantling youth prisons, ending criminalization, and all forms of state violence, to build communities that invest in youth rather than harming them.
Ashley was previously a staff attorney at Youth Represent, where she led the representation of young people facing school suspension hearings and supported the organization’s School Justice Project. She also represented young people in summons criminal court, licensing hearings, housing court, and other civil legal issues. She led the reentry legal representation for girls and femmes in NYC jail. Ashley helped develop and facilitate Know Your Rights workshops for youth in high schools and community-based organizations.
Ashley was previously a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow/Staff Attorney at the Education Law Center-PA, where she did policy projects and special education litigation on behalf of incarcerated youth, projects to dismantle the School-to-Prison Pipeline and led a project focused on reducing the disproportionate school exclusion of Black girls in Philadelphia. She was a part of the advocacy that pushed the School District of Philadelphia to end the practice of in-school suspensions for dress code violations which had a disproportionate impact on Black and Latine girls. Ashley is a 2015 alumna of the National Juvenile Justice Network-Youth Justice Leadership Institute. She earned her J.D. at the Howard University School of Law, and a B.A. in Political Science from Douglass College at Rutgers University. She is licensed in the State of New York.