Model, Ms. Kentucky, nurse and politician — Ashley Miller seems to have boundless energy. She is working, volunteering, getting her Ph.D. in nursing and running for the Kentucky House of Representatives. This girl has big plans for herself, her home state and her city.
What do you do for a living?
I am a women’s health nurse practitioner.
Tell us about the seat you are running for in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
The newly redistricted 32nd District is an open seat in eastern Jefferson County. It includes parts of St. Matthews, Lyndon, Westport Village, Hurstbourne, Holiday Manor and Greymoor-Devondale. The seat is currently held by Julie Raque Adams, who will be running for State Senate.
What is your campaign platform?
My campaign is centered upon three things: people over partisanship, quality education for all and a healthier Kentucky.
What made you decide to take a foray into politics?
I have a great passion for helping others and a commitment to bettering my community. A very wise lady, Representative Mary Lou Marzian, made me realize that I could have a greater impact if I held a public office. The job of state representative is the perfect mix of opportunities — it allows one to influence public policy while being present and active in the district she or he represents.
You have said you admire Florence Nightingale. How do her teachings resonate in 2014?
Florence Nightingale is the mother of nursing. Her book Notes on Nursing, written in the 1850’s, describes the influence of external factors on one’s overall health. Through her extensive assessment of her community, she identified people’s needs and planned strategies to address them. This philosophy is still relevant in nursing today, and it can be used in the development of effective public policy.
You also are a model and Ms. Kentucky. How did you get into those things, and where have they taken you?
When I was a freshman in high school, I took home economics. As a part of that class, we learned to sew. I got really into fashion and fashion design, and during my sophomore year I approached my mom about modeling. She told me that if I wanted to do this, I should get a job and pay for the classes I needed, so I did!
I got my first job at McDonald’s and worked to pay for modeling and self-improvement classes at a local agency. I got into pageants as an extension of modeling. I loved the competitive atmosphere of pageantry, but I struggled with physical critiques from the judges. I wanted to quit. But the pageant director (who became my coach and mentor) told me that quitting would be the biggest waste of God-given talent she had ever seen, and that I should let her coach me. I am so glad that I listened!
Pageants have given me so much: the confidence to stand in front of an audience and speak with authority and poise, the ability to interview and express myself effectively under pressure, and the reality that when you obtain a position of influence, you can use it to make positive changes and highlight issues in the community. Pageants have given me the means to mentor young women to follow their dreams and lift their voices, and I’ve met women whom I will call sisters for the rest of my life.
What pageants have you won?
I started competing consistently when I was 19; at that time I needed scholarship money. I have won Miss Jefferson County 2005, Miss Bluegrass Area 2006 (first runner-up to Miss Kentucky America), Miss My Old Kentucky Home 2007, and Miss University of Louisville 2008. I won Top Model of the USA in 2005, placing in the top 20 and winning most photogenic at Top Model of the World in China. In 2010, after I called myself retired, I got the itch to compete again and competed for Miss Black Ohio USA. I won and made the top 5 at nationals that summer. Last February I was crowned Ms. Kentucky United States, and I carry that title until Feb. 22, when a new queen of the Commonwealth will be crowned in Lexington.
How long have you been modeling?
I have been modeling since I was 16. I am most proud of my HerScene magazine cover and fashion spread in the Fall 2011 issue. I’ve played extras in movies and television shows, been featured in local and national commercials, and worked as a runway model in this region, New York City and China.
How do you balance your job (which would include working on your dissertation to complete your Ph.D!), running for public office and your personal life?
I greatly believe and embrace the sacrifice required for public service. I organize it all with to-do lists and reminders in my phone. Yes, if I lost or broke my phone, it all would come to a standstill!
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?
Your mindset determines your future. I grew up in a less-than-desirable environment. My parents suffered from addiction, poverty and violence, but I knew I wanted more out of life. Positive thoughts promoted the possibility of a successful future. It helped me focus on not getting caught up in the parts of my life I didn’t like or was embarrassed about. This lesson has shaped the rest of my life.
Who is your mentor?
I have three: Miss Denise Mattingly started off as my pageant coach and modeling mentor over 10 years ago, but she has become a second mother and life mentor. My mentor in politics is Representative Mary Lou Marzian. Without her, finding an appropriate office and pursuing public service would have been a much more convoluted process. Dr. Marianne Hutti is my academic/research mentor and dissertation chair at the University of Louisville.
What is best advice you have received in business?
The best advice I have applied to my career is to make a checklist of annual goals. This allows me to keep those goals in the forefront during the hustle and bustle of daily life. It also helps me visualize my progress.
What would you secretly love to do?
I would love to be a fashion designer! My first collection would be a fierce fitness line for women.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a tomboy and sports fanatic.
What is your favorite place to eat?
Where do you like to shop?
I love boutique shopping in Westport Village! I also enjoy frequenting consignment shops.
What is your favorite little luxury?
I treat myself to regular manicures, pedicures and massages. It gives me some time to relax and recharge.
What is your weakness?
I really take “service over self” to heart, and because of that I sometimes stretch myself too thin. I have a dynamic set of passions. I’m running for office, yes. But I’m also a student, I work, coach, volunteer and co-host a sports radio show. Honestly, after my campaign kickoff event, I was at the gym playing basketball with my team at Southeast Christian. I’ve worked really hard on time management, but sometimes I have to make myself say no — to prioritize taking care of myself.
What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Eat! Louisville has a fantastic food scene, and I enjoy trying new restaurants and types of food.
What are three things you cannot live without (besides God, family and friends)?
I cannot live without my iPhone, raisins or my mouth warm-ups.
What are you reading?
I read the newspaper daily, I’m trying to finish the Bible in a year, and I am about halfway through Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell.
What are three of your favorite things right now?
Boxing, the TV show Scandal and scented candles.
Many thanks to Ashley Miller, who came to this photo shoot through snow and the ice all the way from Frankfort. She launched her campaign the next day, and we were excited to learn more about this interesting candidate. Follow her campaign here: www.facebook.com
Much gratitude, as always, to our FACES photographer, Adele Reding. Please view her portfolio here and see more of the wonderful work she does. www.facebook.com