Like most Rhode Islanders, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I came from humble beginnings. My mother showed my sister and me what a strong, independent woman could accomplish when she found herself single and divorced by the time I was five. Undeterred by her circumstances, she started and built a successful business, achieving the American Dream and providing a better life for her children. Growing up, she instilled in me the importance of hard work and fighting for what you believe in — values I cherish to this day.
I was blessed to meet my husband, Jeff, here in Rhode Island, and we were engaged in Providence in 2008. Jeff, the son of a Holocaust survivor, trained at Brown University in surgery and started his practice at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. His focus was treating and operating on children with complex craniofacial anomalies and cleft lips and palates. Seeing first-hand the challenges these kids face, as well as the expenses incurred by their families, our non-profit foundation, Komedyplast, was started in Rhode Island in 2004. Komedyplast provides free surgery for children with craniofacial anomalies throughout Peru. While we had originally hoped to start our family in Providence, student loans, the financial crisis, and high taxes forced us to look for opportunities elsewhere.
Over the last 14 years, we created a health care business, had three beautiful boys, and returned to Rhode Island to raise our family. Together, Jeff and I have worked hard, adapted to the challenges before us, and never gave up. While it wasn’t always easy, I learned some very important life lessons along the way. Many nights I would stay awake worrying about making payroll so my employees could pay their mortgages, rent, utilities, food, and healthcare. It is a heavy burden to bear, but my passion for solving problems, helping people, and my gratitude to my employees drove me to be able to provide for my team and build my business. I believe this experience of starting from nothing, building that business, and helping others achieve their own success makes me a different kind of leader — a leader that will bring these skills with me to the state capitol as we fight to better the lives of Rhode Islanders.
Like most working folks in the Ocean State, I understand the value of a dollar and appreciate a hard-day’s work. I started working at a pizza shop when I was only 15. I have been a hostess, a waitress, a barista, and worked retail — working two jobs and still struggling to make it financially — an experience far too many Rhode Islanders still face today. As we take this journey, I will never forget my roots. And as a former Golden Gloves boxer, I am a fighter, and I will be the people of Rhode Island’s champion.
My life has been dedicated to education and community service, and I will bring that same passion to Rhode Island. I will fight to ensure that parents can send their children to the best schools possible, I will fight to keep more money in Rhode Islander’s pockets by lowering their tax burden, I will fight for pro-job policies to spur economic growth, and most importantly, I will fight for the people of this great state.
I look forward to the opportunity to hear your voices and your views throughout this campaign because, together, we will make Rhode Island the best possible place to live, work, and raise a family.
Ashley is the mother of three school-aged boys and lives in Newport’s fifth ward.
She has degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Finance and Legal Studies. Dedicated to community service and civic engagement, she was a Pew Civic Engagement Fellow, a district court mediator, a Citizen Scholar, and was awarded the 21st Century Leadership Award. She has master’s degrees from the London School of Economics and Columbia University.
Ashley is a businesswoman and healthcare executive who has built and run several successful businesses. She started her career as a business consultant for Accenture working on large projects with EMC and Xerox. Ashley later transitioned into healthcare. Having built a surgical practice from the ground up, she understands what it’s like to start a business from nothing and scale it up into one of the largest regional speciality practices.
For the last two years, she has served communities in multiple ways, from setting up safety net COVID testing centers in the Florida Keys to launching travel testing at one of the largest airports in the United States. As a healthcare worker during the COVID crisis, running a multi-state organization, she has employed hundreds of employees. She returned to Rhode Island to assist with mass vaccination, large scale testing, create jobs, and serve the community.
Ashley Kalus is a Golden Gloves boxing champion and is the fighter Rhode Island needs right now. She will fight for you, your family, your neighbors, and most importantly, fight to provide opportunity for your kids so they have the option to stay in Rhode Island if they want to.