Ashley Ross: M.A. alumni spotlight

Ashley Ross: M.A. alumni spotlight

Ashley Ross: M.A. alumni spotlight

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Ashley Ross received her master's degree in anthropology with a concentration in Museum Studies from Wayne State University in 2012.

Ross is the new director of programs with the Michigan Humanities Council. In this role, she oversees statewide programs that bring the humanities to every county in Michigan. This includes programs like the Great Michigan Read, which provides free books and programming around a Michigan-themed book bi-annually, and Museums on Main Street, which brings Smithsonian exhibits to six different locations in Michigan on a regular basis. Additionally, Ross supports other statewide programs including a new storytelling project, Great Michigan Stories. Michigan Humanities is one of 56 councils supported in part by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Humanities. MI Humanities also provides grants to humanities organizations throughout the state.

Prior to her new position, Ross spent most of the last decade working in Flint, at both the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA) and the Ruth Mott Foundation. She discovered the FIA through one of her graduate-level courses, and after graduation, she became an exhibition curator following a student internship as an education assistant. At the Ruth Mott Foundation, Ross played a vital role in opening the historic estate of C.S. Mott to the public on a regular and consistent basis, starting with its centennial anniversary. During her time at the Ruth Mott Foundation, Ross was exposed to philanthropy and place-based community engagement. It was through this work that she knew she wanted to continue to make an impact but on a state-wide scale, which is what drew her to Michigan Humanities.

The last 14 years working in the museum field have allowed Ross to use her anthropological training on a daily basis. The museum field is rapidly changing, and she has tried to marry activism with professionalism by relying on the tools she acquired while at Wayne State. She has served on the steering committee for the Gender Equity in Museums Movement and is an active volunteer with the Michigan Museums Association. Since 2020, she has also become actively involved in local government (Village of Oxford Council, DDA, ZBA, Oxford Township Planning Commission)—trying to drive change in her own community. Truly, everything Ross does is from an anthropological perspective, understanding herself and understanding others to create a more perfect union where differences of opinions are valued and respected while making the world a better place a little bit at a time.

While her title may not be “anthropologist”, all Ross’s work is done through the lens of anthropology.