With a wealth of experience and a passion for education and innovation, Susan Ashmore is right at home as the new Development Director for FIRST in Texas.
Since attending UT Austin and earning a BBA in Accounting from UTSA, Ashmore has built a reputation as a leader committed to excellence. She has served as Procurement and Contract Specialist, Contract Manager, Director of Procurement, Technology, and Facilities, Program Director, and Deputy Director (of a large entity with $77 million in annual revenues) for a variety of non-profit and quasi-governmental organizations. From fundraising millions of dollars to overseeing business development and strategic planning, Ashmore has proven her ability to control costs, maximize revenues, and overcome challenges with efficient solutions. Through it all, she promotes transparency and encourages teamwork, harnessing individual strengths for the benefit of the entire organization. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, and the State of Texas named her a subject-matter expert for a half-billion-dollar program.
Still, her most significant accomplishments are highlighted in the programs she has implemented. “Our STEM Career Awareness Days targeted juniors and seniors at area high schools…. The feedback and tweets from the youth were amazing,” Ashmore says. They provided scholarships to various school districts to cover the cost of transportation, as they invited students from a 13-county area.
Not only that, “We had a program called Externships for Teachers that has won at least one award each year we have operated the program” from organizations like the Texas Economic Development Council, the International Economic Development Council, and the Texas Workforce Commission. This unique program gives STEM teachers an opportunity to gain real-world experience with employers like Toyota, Microsoft, Cisco, and more, all of whom have a particular interest in those areas of teaching expertise.
With a long-held passion for STEAM, Ashmore fell in love with FIRST® after her first year judging a FIRST Robotics Competition. She has been a judge at FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge events for the last eight years. “I look forward to working with the FIRST in Texas community and volunteers across the state. I am excited to continue on with the great work that has been accomplished by FIRST in Texas staff and volunteers to expand donations from existing and new corporate partners,” she says. “With the 86th Texas Legislative session coming in 2019, it’s a great opportunity to meet with elected officials to promote the importance of STEAM,” which, she points out, “…is a pressing workforce issue.”
Today’s employers need well-prepared individuals to carry those companies into the next generation. Ashmore mentions that Mario Lozoya, a former manager at Toyota, said that he would hire anyone who has FIRST® on his or her resume, highlighting the importance of the education and experience these programs offer. Ashmore’s passion for the STEAM subjects—Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math—drives her to keep FIRST in Texas in the spotlight and encourage STEAM employers to recognize the impact FIRST® programs can have on the future of their companies.
Ashmore makes her home in Northern Bexar County (“Go Johnson Jaguars!”) where she enjoys home improvement projects. Her “…very formal pets: a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Tuxedo cat” probably aren’t much help with that. “They tend to think they are royalty and are above me.” She loves reading, going to the movies, traveling, cooking, wine tasting, playing cards, and sharing time with friends. Her extended family includes her many close friendships, three brothers, and several nieces and nephews.
FIRST in Texas is delighted to have Susan Ashmore on the team. With her help, we’ll continue to strive toward our goal of giving every Texas student the opportunity to participate in a FIRST program.