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

I am a genderqueer movement organizer, 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

I am an anti-violence advocate and educator whose movement-organizing work began in 1994 as a suicide hotline counselor and LGBTQ activist/organizer. Currently, I am the Survivor Leadership Program Manager at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (Cast) and have a presidential commission to serve on the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, providing recommendations and guidance to federal agencies addressing human trafficking. At Cast, I manage the National Survivor Network and stewarded its’ transition from a network of consultants to a collective-power-building group of community organizers and changemakers. While at Cast, I partnered on the development of the Meaningful Engagement of People with Lived Experience framework and assessment, spearheaded a project to foster repair for survivor leaders harmed by their anti-trafficking engagements drawing on a community accountability lens, co-authored a workbook to support empowered storytelling for social change, and developed educational materials to teach systems-based prevention of human trafficking. In addition to my community-based work I have served as a federal policy leader, coordinating the first-ever entirely survivor-developed, all-survivor Capitol Hill briefing for members of Congress. I have been a research consultant for the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre’s research into global promising practices for meaningful engagement of people with lived experience and am currently conducting research in partnership with Cast and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill about the storytelling experiences of survivors.

Before coming to Cast, I was the Anti-Human Trafficking Specialist, and later the Prevention Education Program Manager, for the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA). As coalition staff, I provided training and technical assistance (TTA) to rape crisis centers, dual domestic violence agencies, and human trafficking programs across the state, and was the primary Centers for Disease Control-funded Rape Prevention and Education TTA provider for the state of North Carolina’s Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Program. Before coming to NCCASA, I worked in sexual violence prevention and crisis response for a decade, answering hotlines, leading support groups, and providing hospital and legal accompaniment for survivors. 

My current work brings together lived experience and years of direct service and community-based consent and prevention education work, as well as graduate study in social justice, human rights, and gender theory. I am a member of the National Survivor Network as well as the speaker’s bureaus for both Freedom Network USA and HEAL Trafficking and am known as a dynamic speaker, trainer, and writer. My clients and collaborative partners include the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre, the University of Liverpool Centre for the Study of International Slavery, the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery, FreeFrom, Futures Without Violence, VALOR US, Survivors Agenda, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the DHS Blue Campaign. I am passionate about violence prevention, harm reduction, and Full Frame Initiative’s Wellbeing Framework.

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.