HOPE is a word that inspires today’s real-life Wonder Woman. Ashley Kjos strives to bring hope and fulfillment to the people she meets in both her personal and professional life. As the Executive Director of Woodland Centers, a community mental health center, she uses her superpowers of compassion, kindness and discernment every day to lead her team and bring hope to clients, families and the community.
KR: Please tell us about what brings you joy and fulfillment.
AK: The biggest thing that brings me joy and fulfillment is to see this in others and to know that I had a part in bringing that to their lives. This is true in my work and my personal life. I love to be able to hear stories about the hope and recovery we have provided at our organization for a particular client, family, or partner organization. It inspires me each day to know how challenging the work that we do is and to see our dedicated, hardworking staff continue to push though challenges in order to get great outcomes for our clients and communities.
My kids probably bring out the biggest amount of joy. I have three kiddos ages 7, 4, and 1 (two boys and the youngest is a girl).
I love watching them learn and figure out their personalities, interests, and how to be in life. I hope that I can be a strong guiding force for them to be compassionate, loving, kind, tolerant, and hardworking individuals who inspire others to be their best selves.
I also love to get away and travel to new places. I enjoy getting lost in new locations and new cultures.
KR: We all have inner superpowers. What are some of yours?
AK: I have been told that I am calm and resourceful. I am an achiever and strive to get things accomplished but I also want to ensure things are done efficiently and effectively. I also love to analyze and utilize data in making decisions. I can be a calming, mindful presence in times of chaos or disorder. I also am willing and open to new experiences. I am one of those people who love and embrace change and attempt to get others excited about change.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
AK: My mother was one of the most influential people in my life. She worked long hours in challenging jobs where at times she was the only woman. For many years she was the manager of a fertilizer plant in our small community where she directly supervised all men – many of whom were well connected and influential in our community. She worked hard to get this job and worked even harder to keep it. She had a strong personality but was also compassionate and caring. She raised myself and my two older sisters as a single parent ensuring we had all our needs taken care of and we knew that she would do anything to ensure we obtained our goals and ambitions in life. She also taught us the value of hard work, persistence, dependability, willingness, and the need for fun.
KR: If you could have one super-human power, what would it be?
AK: I would want to be able to fly. How freeing would that be to be able to just take off in the air and fly above it all whenever you pleased. Also, airline tickets are spendy! I could go anywhere and not have to buy a ticket!
KR: What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies?
AK: I love to read, travel, spend time with my family, attend concerts, and attend Vikings games (SKOL)!
KR: Knowing what you know at this stage of your life, what words of wisdom would you give to your 20-year-old self?
AK: Take chances but be smart about it. Spend as much time as possible with family and friends – you never know when they will be gone and their wisdom and love will not be accessible. Take time to relax and unwind – take care of yourself! Life will throw things at you that you never expected and you will get though it – focus and proceed on!