* anti-violence – consent culture – embodied spirituality – words and story *

I am a genderqueer nonprofit wonk, writer, storyteller, and teacher who lives with my family on Catawba, Eno, and Shakori lands in what is now part of the southeastern United States. My work brings together my research interests of gender, sexuality, consent, relationships, trauma, healing, spirituality, theology, ritual, storytelling, and social justice. I appreciate working within each of these foci (though I currently make my living in the nonprofit wonk focus); the areas of overlap are where my heart opens most and loving brilliance pours out. I am a survivor of multiple forms of violence and trauma.

In my free time, I spin fire.

anti-violence work

Chris Ash stands in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Room. They are wearing a black suit and glasses, and have grayish-blue short hair

Currently, I run a values-based national network for survivors of human trafficking engaged in movement work, and engage in national and global research and policy work. I’ve been volunteering in anti-violence work forever — since starting work on a suicide and self-harm hotline in 1994. Like many of us with backgrounds and histories that twisted and turned through trauma and violence, this was always my “side” gig while working “day jobs” that (almost) paid the bills while allowing me flexibility to be present for my family.

A lifelong learner, I left behind a trail of unfinished degrees as a low-income, trauma survivor parent navigating the US educational systems and inadequate safety nets. As an undergraduate, I bounced through programs and studied music education, special education, and psychology (all as a single parent) before landing on a degree in religious studies. I completed two years of a three-year master of divinity and graduate-level studies in social work, women’s and gender studies, sociology, theology, and history. I earned my masters when I was 42 while working full-time, in school full-time, and raising a family.

All of this seemed like one “failure” to find the right career after another until I got hired for a training and technical assistance position in 2018, and saw how every skill, every class, every gig prepared me for my current work. The person who hired me and mentored me believed in me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward, every day.

I am a member of the National Survivor Network, Freedom Network USA,and the HEAL Speaker’s Bureau, and am a 2024 Biden appointee to the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. I do contract consulting on human trafficking initiatives. Clients have included HEAL Trafficking, Freedom Network USA, DHS Blue Campaign, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, the University of Liverpool Centre for the Study of International Slavery, and the Modern Slavery & Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre.

You can find me on Bluesky and LinkedIn.

curriculum I am trained to implement

Sexuality Education for People with Developmental Disabilities curriculum by Katherine McLaughlin of Elevatus Training.
The Truth About Pornography porn literacy curriculum by Emily Rothman.

consent culture and sexuality

For over a decade, I worked in rape crisis – answering hotlines, providing in-person hospital and police accompaniment, and facilitating support groups to help survivors reconnect with their bodies and explore safe, consensual, healthy sexuality after sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse. Before that, I worked as a childbirth educator and doula, and afterward I worked for a few years in sexual violence policy, prevention, and response at the statewide level as a training and technical assistance provider.

While I don’t have as much time for my small group embodiment education at this time, I have traditionally enjoyed working with people to tease out and build upon the areas they can find safety in their bodies in ways that allow newly discovered and developed communication strengths, boundary-setting, and experiences of sensual pleasure to radiate outward to other areas of life and sexuality. In this vein, I independently taught workshops on sexuality, consent and boundaries, and community accountability, and consulted with organizations, festivals, and communities on building practices and policies that foster safety and accountability. I have also coached parents on how to talk about sexuality in open, candid, and healthy ways with their children; facilitated discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation with children; and worked with parents to foster trust and security for their gender non-conforming children.

embodied spirituality

My spiritual path is shaped by a wide variety of experiences – from living in an Episcopalian convent to studying neo-Druidic women’s mysteries, from conversations with rivers to ecstatic ritual, and from meditation and guided imagery to embodied approaches that include dance, chanting, and elaborate liturgy. I’ve worked in full-time ministry in a church that embraced mind-action philosophies, and left after feeling spirit’s sweet pull into nuance, deeper into the mystery. I am a mystic and a theologian, a heart-follower and an academic, a theorist and an activist, and I find the tension between these seeming opposites to be the place where my most powerful magic happens, my keenest insights come, and my greatest growth emerges. I enjoy facilitating rites of passage, holding space for birth and death, tending grief, sharing joy, and performing weddings, baby blessing and coming-of-age ceremonies, and funerals. I enjoy building community as well as working with people to develop personal rituals for growth, self-knowledge, and healing.

words and story

I didn’t always call myself a writer. It’s the kind of thing that has to grow on you, sneaking into your self-understanding in tiny flashes of confidence until you somehow realize it’s what you have been all along. In the years since I first began playing with words in earnest, I’ve brought them to a number of settings. I’ve been published in academic journals, university bulletins, and professional training manuals. I’ve written prose poetry, self-reflection, and theological reflection for popular websites. I’ve conducted professional trainings for a variety of sexual health, anti-violence, and educational professionals, and have presented at state and national conferences. I have told live, true stories on stages including SHIFT-NC’s Sex Ed Storytelling and Smut Slam DC, and was the producer, host, and sometimes-storyteller at Outfluenced: An Evening of Queer Storytelling. I love words, imperfect medium that they are, and strive to loop them together in ways that inspire, inform, and create experiences.