Voices Changing Communities: A New Voice in Town

Our philanthropic community gained a beautiful new voice in January when Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation hired Ashley Martin as a Development Manager. Ashley believes in promoting the welfare of underserved communities through volunteering and charitable giving. She’s committed to it, so expect her in your community recruiting other do-gooders! The community connections and support she asks for helps bring much-needed healthcare and health education to people who cannot afford needed surgeries but still deserve equal access to care and a healthy quality of life. Ashley believes that, “Helping people is worth more than any salary and we can all contribute to keep our community healthy for their families, households, and workforce.”

Ashley’s background put her in a unique position to serve Novant: she learned the value of good health and the importance of doing the right thing from her childhood. She grew up in an African American community in Georgia where she was “fortunate enough to have an entire community that took time to be role models,” learning the importance of fellowship and service at an early age as she spent many weekends volunteering at food pantries and church fundraisers, and donating to clothing closets. Ashley’s parents both experienced debilitating medical problems that taught her the value of good health. Her father is a stroke survivor, and her mother is a two-time open-heart surgery patient and cancer survivor, both spending several months in recovery. Family members and community friends even helped pay some of the family’s monthly bills while they recovered, giving testament to generational service that Ashley has come to love and share. Ashley has recognized the same attributes in her North Carolina home, where friends and strangers alike volunteer quickly, from shoveling snow to donating money to charity and everything in between. Ashley views compassion for those in need worth supporting and she’ll do it with a winning smile. She smiles a lot!

Ashley has a BA in English from Georgia Southern, an MA in justice administration from American Military University, and an ABA paralegal certification from Gainesville State. She did not intend to go into philanthropy, but her life journey took her to four continents as a Naval military police officer, where she was often the smallest person in her unit (all of 5 feet tall) but could still handle a 50-caliber rifle (ungracefully)! Ashley recalls her military family also being equally supportive of her professionally and personally, and she is grateful that Novant embraced her past service and promotes their Veterans programs (she is pictured here signing Novant’s service recognition flag). These careers taught her the importance of health and giving back as she quotes Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said… but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ashley continues to smile when explaining her passion for a healthy diet. She was raised on a typical Southern diet of sweet tea and fried everything. For her, addressing the health disparity that exists for communities that lack healthy food choices is crucial to improving the health of minority communities. She changed her eating habits in incremental steps. First, she found a green smoothie that she liked and replaced a meal with it, and now she eats a vegan diet. It is difficult to change habits from childhood, especially ones that are culturally ingrained, but she likes to remember a saying she heard while on the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), “Don’t dig your grave with a knife and a fork.”  Seeing positive changes in her health with a change in her diet motivates her to urge others to do the same, even if it is only one meal per day.

Look for Ashley in the Winston-Salem community; she’s coming to share the best of Novant’s advancements for a healthier and happier experience.


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