Ashley Beckner

Venture Partner
Location: Austin, TX, US
Focus Area: Littlest Learners / Adult Learners
Regional Focus: United States

Meet Ashley, a former elementary school operator and recovering finance professional who joined Imaginable Futures and Omidyar Network to drive progress toward the vital importance of early experiences and brain development as the foundation for lifelong success.

Prior, Ashley built and ran the non-instructional side of Bricolage Academy, an innovative, socioeconomically diverse, startup charter elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana, as its founding director of finance, strategy, and operations. Ashley also spent a summer as an Education Pioneers Fellow with the Silicon Schools Fund.

What she says about her Bricolage experience, “I was on the founding team, launching a school in New Orleans, Louisiana that was socioeconomically and racially diverse by design. We were in every sense a startup, but we had 75 5-year-olds show up every day, and it was the only kindergarten year those children would ever have, so we had to deliver. We worked hard, and the school grew and thrived. It was the hardest work I have ever done, on many levels, but also the most fulfilling.”

Ashley began her career at Morgan Stanley as an investment banking analyst focused on the real estate sector and as a special projects associate working on a series of internal company projects.


Why do you love coming to work?

I spend my days meeting and talking to people who truly believe they can change the world and have committed themselves to making other people’s lives better. What could be more energizing than that?

Where is your happy place?

On the couch with my husband in our home in Austin, Texas. Although our favorite destination happy place is Lake Tahoe in all seasons.

What’s the closest thing to real magic in this world?

The sound and sight of laughter.

Favorite season?

Fall, no question.

Favorite quote:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

What lessons did you learn early in your career that you keep with you today?

People connect to authenticity. In my first “career job” at Morgan Stanley, I was out of my element. I didn’t come from the same kind of places that most of my colleagues did, and sometimes I didn’t know how to handle it. But I learned over time that most people don’t care about those things and are more interested in knowing who you really are in your core.

If you could be one character from a book, who would you choose and why?

On different days, I wanted to be different characters in the Babysitters’ Club. They had friends, they had jobs, and they spent their days having adventures with the young children in their charge.

What do you imagine or wish for the future?

I wish that all people have the opportunity to define for themselves, in the context of their families and communities, the kind of life that brings them joy and meaning, and that they have the opportunity to live that life.