Ashley Nichole Kolaya

MPA in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy - 2014

Founder + CEO
THIRD S P A C E
Ashley Nichole Kolaya

Can you tell us a bit about your job responsibilities?

I get to spend my time surfacing, developing and amplifying voices and stories the world needs to hear. As the founder and principal of Third Space, I work with individuals and organizations in the social impact space to develop their communication skills, build their brand narratives, and engage meaningfully with their audience.

We aim to replace traditional messenger-centered communication (which, unfortunately, is SO common in the public sector!) with a more impactful audience-centered approach. We use innovative, evidence-based learning design principles to build collective empathy and motivate audience engagement. Our goal is to help people feel equipped, confident and eager to: spread their brilliant, world-changing ideas; build and inspire effective teams to help actualize those ideas; AND tell the story of their work in a way that compounds its impact.

At Wagner, I struggled to figure out which field or policy area I wanted to devote my energy to, and I love this work because it allows me to do a little bit of everything, ranging from developing branding and communication strategy to coaching political hopefuls on messaging and presentation. 

What impact do you hope to make through your career and/or organization?

I think changing the way we communicate is key to the success of any progressive mission or meaningful social change. Storytelling is, ultimately, an act of service: it's about giving your audience a gift. This is true whether your audience is thousands of people in a crowded arena, a team of colleagues in a work meeting, or a single individual in an intimate conversation. My hope is that our work at 3S will help accelerate social change by developing and amplifying the unheard voices and stories in these spaces.