Ashley Judd is well known for dexterously starring in both box office hits and for turning in unforgettable performances in fine independent films. From her debut in Sundance Film Festival grand jury prize winner, Ruby In Paradise, to Where the Heart Is, Simon Burch, Helen, De-Lovely and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, her films tell very personal stories-- which is exactly what Judd does when she is not making movies.
But the stories she tells are not about being a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress or about making People magazine's “50 Most Beautiful People” list three times. As a board member for Population Services International (PSI) and as Global Ambassador for YouthAIDS, Judd speaks on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
Judd has traveled the world to do international public health work on all fronts– maternal health, child survival, human rights, family planning, STD and HIV prevention and malaria prevention and treatment. She has experienced firsthand the connection between poverty, illness and gender inequality and how that sets up the pain and degradation that is sex and labor slavery (on which she testified before the General Assembly of the United Nations). Judd says, "The more we hear their stories, the more motivated we are to heal them and the social systems that victimized them in the first place. I believe with all my soul that the art of compassionate witnessing is at the core of global change and peace building."
She is also passionate about the environment. An eighth generation Kentuckian, she is an outspoken critic of mountaintop removal coal mining. A proponent of a "green collar" economy, Judd is committed to helping find innovative renewable energy solutions.
In May 2010, Judd received her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has spoken at many prestigious conferences around the world, including the London School of Economics' Family Planning Summit, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also hosted a talk with President Clinton on the work of the Clinton Foundation for the London School of Economics. In 2012, she spoke on the floor of the Democratic National Convention as the delegate from Tennessee asked to cast the ballots for the party's nominee for president and vice president.
Ashley is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She completed a major in French, and minors in Anthropology, Art History, Theater, and Women’s Studies. She also graduated from UK’s Honor’s Program. In 2009, she fulfilled her dream of going to graduate school. The Thursday prior to her husband winning the Indy 500 again, she graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with an MPA. Amongst other achievements at Harvard, she was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice.
Ashley is married to Dario Franchitti, a 2 time Indy Racing League and 2 time Indy 500 champion. The couple, in addition to their farm in Tennessee, make their home in Franchitti’s native Scotland. Her past times include listening to bluegrass music, playing running charades, hiking, supporting her husband’s racing, cooking (especially traditional, regional southern food) gardening (she planted 2 bio diverse, heirloom orchards in 2008) and reading.
"Our event was spectacular! Ashley gave a phenomenal presentation, that impacted people greatly. Ashley articulated the trauma of abuse better than anyone I have ever seen! I think the program was incredibly educational and one of the best events the YWCA of San Diego County has produced. Thank you for your assistance with Ashley. I really enjoyed meeting her and working with her. She is an amazing woman."
Ashley wowed the crowd tonight with touching encouragement and stirring profundity. She's bringing lost souls back to the light. That's the work of an angel.She was truly remarkable and way beyond inspirational."
"Ashley Judd walked onto the Ford Hall Forum stage and hit it straight out of the park from her first word to her last. She is not only incredibly intelligent and a top-notch presenter, but also thoroughly knowledgeable and committed on topics from feminism to child prostitution. It was clear that the audience found Judd completely captivating and a true inspiration."
Ashley was amazing. Her remarks were so heart-felt and sincere. The audience was moved and impressed. [We] appreciated that she encouraged teachers to have greater concern for students’ welfare and to take care of themselves, so they can nurture others. I spoke to a group of attendees that have been to the conference every year for 10 years, and they all said she was the best celebrity speaker we’ve ever had, better than Bill Gates and Bill Clinton, she really connected with the audience.