Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Title: Keynote Speaker, NYT Bestselling Author, Clinical Social Worker

Individual and Family Services

Education: Eckerd College - University Southern California
Tampa, FL, USA


Since the age of 14, Ashley has shared her personal story of triumph with thousands globally and has helped raise millions of dollars for non-profit organizations. A former foster child herself, Ashley is passionate about working with schools, colleges, and groups that serve children, women, and families. Her powerful story of resilience, philanthropy, and overcoming hardships resonates with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

By the age of 22, Ashley had become a New York Times Bestselling Author. Her first book, “Three Little Words” is now an International Bestseller and has been published in at least 4 countries. Her second book, “Three More Words” debuted at #1 on Amazon Bestseller’s List. Both books are used in classrooms across the country in various community and First Year Experience Collegiate programs. Ashley has also written for and represented a variety of prestigious magazines, blogs, and organizations. Her first book, "Three Little Words" has been optioned for a major motion picture.

Ashley has received State, local, and National awards for her speaking, advocacy, and philanthropy. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice.

At the age of 26, Ashley ran for the Florida State Senate — a race the media dubbed the “David and Goliath of races.” Ashley also founded her own non-profit organization, The Foundation for Sustainable Families.

In 2010, Ashley was selected to represent and mentor as part of Levi’s Shape What’s To Come campaign, an online, global community for women that offers opportunities to exchange ideas, collaborate, and provide support to one another. Her work with Levi’s was featured at the TED Women’s Conference in Washington, D.C.

She’s recently been recognized as a "Top 100 Women Who Inspire Us" and continues to provide direct services for children and families in her own community.


After spending nearly a decade of her life being bounced around and abused in the foster care system, Ashley went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Social Work and become a foster and adoptive parent herself.

Because she kept seeing huge service gaps and unmet needs in her community, Ashley founded The Foundation for Sustainable Families and Sustainable Family Services, which are dedicated to serving children, women, teens, and families.

Ashley regularly serves as the keynote speaker for non-profits, schools, and her vast personal and professional experiences help non-profits explain their missions to donors and supporters. Her riveting, informative, and inspirational story has recruited countless families and volunteers, and she has been able to reengaged workers, professionals, and communities with her humor, optimism, passion, and perseverance.

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Best Story

Recognizing that child welfare issues are universal, Ashley spent time in Europe, South Africa, and China studying child welfare and social policies. She serves on many national, local, and international boards for agencies and groups that work in the mental health, human rights, education, and social work fields. She has also been a volunteer Guardian ad Litem (or CASA) and as a foster parent, has cared for over 20 children.

The St. Petersburg, FL Chamber of Commerce selected Ashley as the International Woman of the Year at their Iconic Women’s event. Her largest audience to date was an arena of more than 20,000!

Origin Story

Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW, is the quintessential American success story. Born in 1985 to a single teen mother, by the age of 3 she was in Florida’s foster care system where she spent almost ten years being shuttled between 14 homes—some quite abusive—before being adopted from a Children’s Home at the age of twelve.

Despite her ordeal, she excelled in school because she believed that, “my education was the one thing nobody could take from me.” Early in her life she felt compelled to advocate for herself and the other children she lived with, particularly in the abusive foster homes.

Her efforts and academic achievements landed her Eckerd College’s Trustee Scholarship where she graduated with honors and ahead of schedule earning a double major in Communications and Theater and a double minor in Political Science and Psychology. Ashley then went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Ashley has turned her pain into power and her inspirational story of resilience, philanthropy, and overcoming hardships resonates with audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Example talks

Three More Words: Coming Full Circle

Based on her life experiences and #1 Bestselling memoir, Three More Words, Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW, works with organizations to personalize presentations to meet their specific needs and objectives. Ashley is a foster child who came full circle to become a social worker, volunteer, AND foster/adoptive parent. Ashley and her husband have cared for more than 25 children and their eldest of three children was adopted from foster care. Her unparalleled, multi-faceted experiences give audiences a deeper understanding of the various traditionally underrepresented populations many non-profits serve. Ashley leaves audiences having seen a true story of resiliency in the face of extreme adversity, and the healing power of service to others.

Takeaways and Objectives may include:

Raising funds for charitable groups by personifying their work

How to give and receive help

Creating Positive Influences and Setting Goals

Becoming, or helping others become, a successful life strategist

Making a positive impact by turning Pain into Power

Give hope, inspiration, and motivation through a personal story of perseverance and determination

Encourage community engagement

Volunteer, Donor, and Member Retention

Power of One Person and Making a Difference: How One Person Can Change the Life of Another

It only takes one person to change the life of another and Ashley’s story serves as a passionate example of triumph and inspiration. With a life coach you can be ready, Life coaching is a synergistic relationship between an accredited life coach and a client designed to tap into your full potential, and the use of Diversity speaking which includes unconscious bias, cultural competence, inclusive leadership, women’s advancement, authentic leadership, and ally ship. Just as Olympic athletes wouldn’t think of training without the added insight, objective perspective and enthusiastic support of an athletic coach, many of today’s most successful business leaders, professionals, executives, entrepreneurs and CEOs use the services of a life coach to take their lives, careers, or businesses to the next level.

Partial List of Takeaways:

How to reengage or recruit employees, workers, or volunteers

Top 10 tips on engaging the local community

How to successfully raise funds for a non-profit organization or cause

Turn personal pain or tragedies into a powerful voice for others

How to help another while maintaining self-care and avoiding debilitating transference

Instead of starting your own nonprofit, you can work with an existing 501 public charity under a formal arrangement known as fiscal sponsorship. You can ask for grants and tax-deductible donations under your sponsor’s exempt status. Fiscal Sponsorship

Fund can also open a world of grant opportunities to individuals, such as artists.

The Keys to the Kingdom: School as Sanctuary

Ashley talks about the importance of recognizing strengths, engaging students and youth, and reminds us that school may be the only sanctuary some students have.

Keynote, Commencement, and Workshop options are individualized for each group. Areas of expertise for Youth and Professionals can include information from the following topics:

Tips for teaching through tough times or connecting with troubled or difficult students

Explore why some students act the way they do: the impact of coming from a broken home

How to engage beyond the textbooks

Provide potential assessment tools

Helping Students succeed and transition

The ACEs Decoded: Working through Adverse Childhood Experiences

Trauma Informed Classrooms

LGBTQ+ issues and understanding

How to create safer, more inclusive schools

Embracing Diversity

Transitioning to College and Collegiate Success

Personalized Student and Educator programs are available upon request.

Motivating Change in Three Little Words - Motivational Keynote

(Based on her award-winning International and New York Times Bestselling memoir, Three Little Words)

Born in 1985 to a single teen mother Ashley was placed in foster care at the age of 3. Most of her 14 placements were abusive and overcrowded. In one home, 16 people lived in a small trailer where the children were regularly beaten, neglected, verbally assaulted, and starved. Another foster parent became a convicted pedophile. At one point, she was also placed with an alcoholic relative that was shot twice in front of her.

After spending almost ten years in the system, Ashley was finally adopted from a group home when she was twelve. Instead of seeing herself as a victim, Ashley has used her experience to find the strength to accomplish incredible things. She became a New York Times Bestselling author by age 22, holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work, ran for Florida State Senate at age 26, created and heads a non-profit organization, and she has been a foster parent to more than 20 children. In this inspiring keynote, Ashley will show audiences how to overcome their own personal and professional challenges to accomplish more than they ever thought possible. She delivers her story with humor and grace, and attendees will leave energized and ready to take on the world!

Partial List of Takeaways:

Decode several key elements of resilience like: Accountability, optimism and openness, identifying constructive influences, and accepting and giving help

Becoming a successful life strategist and overcoming fears or “failures”

Impact positive thinking and introspection by turning set-backs into successes

Give hope, inspiration, and motivation through a personal story of perseverance and determination

Encourage community engagement