"Looking at philanthropy through a different lens"
Community leader, former small business owner, mother of three, diversity enthusiast and charitable strategist, Ashley Kilcher has been impacting communities since childhood. Currently, she serves on the Make-A-Wish Minnesota board which supports her mission of giving others the opportunity to do good and inspiring them to rise to the occasion.
Ashley’s passion and investment in Make-A-Wish – helping Minnesota children with critical illnesses – has a long history. She has seen up close the impact a critical illness can have on a family as well as witnessed the positive ripple effect that granting a special wish to a child can have on an entire family and everyone involved in the wish granting process. She began supporting the organization personally, transitioned to fundraising, volunteering, granting wishes and served as co-chair with her sister-in-law for the 2019 and 2020 Gala, with 2019’s Gala reaching a record-breaking $1 million in donations. She also was instrumental in soliciting the largest corporate grant in Make-A-Wish Minnesota’s history which came from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). Her love for the mission inspired her to rally the entire SMSC Community around a young girl’s wish to visit a local water park.
During the pandemic and as a small business owner, Ashley worked with her network and connections to organize the 100% pop-up, a celebration and shopping event that highlighted and supported the work of Black-owned businesses. Using her entrepreneurial skills, Ashley regularly hosted fundraising and awareness events for various causes in creative ways. From hosting a “pay what you can” food truck with the proceeds going to Make-A-Wish outside her shop downtown, to an on-air fundraising event for Second Harvest Heartland.
In addition to personally serving communities, Ashley is training the next generation to do so as well. Her now 11-year-old daughter with her mother’s guidance planned and executed a campaign, complete with a carnival, food truck and community engagement, to raise funds for a new park located in her neighborhood on the SMSC reservation. Not only did the effort raise $4,000, Ashley encouraged her daughter to think bigger and extend her efforts to another reservation. Today, her daughter is working with one of her mentors on Citizen-T, a carbon neutral clothing brand whose proceeds will support various charities including those who focus on indigenous women and children.
Ashley is a model example of generosity, leadership, commitment and lasting impact.
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