Ashley Mudd: Increasing LGBTQ+ Representation and Influence in Business
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Ashley Mudd (she/her), the program director of Reaching Out MBA. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Ashley! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Reaching Out MBA?
Ashley: Glad to be with you, Spiffy! Reaching Out MBA's vision is to have LGBTQ+ representation in every C-suite! We aim to increase the influence of the LGBTQ+ community in business by educating, inspiring, and connecting LGBTQ+ MBA students and alumni.
Spiffy: Awesome! What motivates you to tackle this challenge?
Ashley: I am proud to do this work with Reaching Out MBA because as a queer woman living in the south, I have witnessed firsthand the importance of increasing LGBTQ+ inclusion in business. Increased LGBTQ+ representation in business not only means more inclusive workplaces but has the potential to lead to more equitable and just policies. Early in my career, I worked in organizations that had hostile policies towards the LGBTQ+ community, and I did not feel professionally safe to be out. My work with Reaching Out MBA puts me in a position to work alongside both academic and corporate partners that are committed to ensuring all LGBTQ+ folks feel safe and welcomed at work.
Spiffy: How would you describe the impact of your work?
Ashley: Through our work, we are increasing the representation and influence of the LGBTQ+ community in business. One of the largest areas of impact we have is in working to expand the opportunities available for members of the LGBTQ+ community to earn their MBA. To date, our ROMBA Fellowship partner schools have awarded over $28 million to more than 560 ROMBA Fellows. Since its inception in 2015, the Fellowship program has grown from 20 inaugural schools to over 71 in the 2022-2023 academic year.
Spiffy: Congratulations on that success! Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by Reaching Out MBA. What impact does that make?
Ashley: We recently hosted our first in-person ROMBA conference since 2019! We welcomed nearly 1,700 LGBTQ+ students and business leaders in Washington, DC, for a weekend of education, inspiration, and connection.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ashley—it’s been an honor!
Ashley Mudd (she/her) is the program director of Reaching Out MBA, where she leads program development and stakeholder engagement. Ashley lives in south Louisiana with her wife and two dogs. For fun, she loves to hike, camp, and attend music and food festivals. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 21, 2022.)
© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.