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    Dr. Aeriel A. Ashlee

    Scholar. Facilitator. Expansive Thinker.

  • About

    Hi, I'm Dr. Ashlee (she/her). I am a proud Asian American womxn of color, transracial transnational adoptee, mamascholar. My professional praxis is guided by my desire and commitment to facilitate healing and liberation in higher education. Prior to pursuing faculty life, I worked in student affairs in higher education advocating for Students of Color and fostering brave space for bold conversations. My research interests include pedagogies of belonging, poststructural possibilities for student affairs praxis, coalition building between transracial adoptee and multiracial communities, and the racialized experiences of underrepresented Asian Americans in higher education (i.e., transracial adoptees and Hmong Americans).


    What I bring to the table...

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    Teacher Scholar Lens

    I serve as the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow on Belonging and Graduate Director of the College Counseling and Student Development master's program at St. Cloud State University.


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    Holistic Student Development

    I have dedicated my career to fostering college students' learning, growth, and development. I have worked at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, Dartmouth College, Miami University-Ohio, St. Cloud State University, and aboard the MV Explorer on the Spring 2015 voyage of Semester at Sea.


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    Facilitation Expertise

    I am co-founder of Ashlee Consulting, where alongside my life and business partner Kyle Ashlee, we foster brave space for bold conversations. We provide clients from around the world with empowering facilitations and interactive workshops to catalyze racial justice through centering story-sharing and self-work.


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    Transracial Adoptee (TRA) Advocacy

    I endeavor to elevate transracial adoptee (TRA) visibility in student affairs and higher education. I believe there is tremendous insight and liberatory potential in TRAs' liminal perspectives and positionality.


  • Featured Work

    The following are selections from my published work. I have chosen these pieces because they best embody the voice and vision I bring to all of my speaking, writing, and consulting. After reading my work, please send me a note. I would love to hear your thoughts, reactions, or questions. 

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    On Being Racially Enough: A Duoethnography Across Minoritized Racial Identities

    Autoethnography is transformative methodology. I am delighted to share this piece, which explores ideas of racial enoughness and authenticity, across minoritized racial identities. This article was co-authored with my friend, mentor, and dissertation chair Dr. Stephen John Quaye and published in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. (Ashlee, A. A., & Quaye, S. J., 2020)

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    Transgressing Borders and Embracing the In-Between: A Transracial Asian American Adoptee's Autoethnographic Reflection Inspired by Gloria Anzaldúa

    This is the first piece I wrote after finishing my PhD. I was in my first-year as a tenure-track professor. These reflections are largely drawn from my researcher journal, which I diligently kept throughout my dissertation process. (Ashlee, A. A., 2020, p. 11-14)

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    Different like Me: Building Empathy Within Multiracial and Transracial Adoptee Communities Through Identity Analogies

    Over the past several years, I have been working on a collaborative project exploring identity analogies and interconnections as avenues for affective-relating, healing, and liberation. This is my first co-published piece on the topic. (Combs, L., & Ashlee, A. A., 2020, p. 56-58)

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    I am Not Confused: A Transracial Adoptee's Reflections on the Confines of Racial Categories

    This manifesto, which was featured on the NASPA Multiracial Knowledge Community's blog, captures my evolving poststructural worldview. This piece has great significance as it was my first public, professional declaration of my expansive perspective on racial identity, which positions transracial adoptees as brilliant racial border crossers and theory expanders. (Ashlee, A. A., 2018)

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    We are Woke: A Collaborative Critical Autoethnography of Three Womxn of Color Graduate Students

    I wrote this collaborative autoethnography with two incredibly brilliant sistascholars during a very transformative time in my life. I was a doctoral student and coming into my most critical worldview. Simultaneously, I was beginning to cultivate my own voice as a fierce womxn of color scholar. (Ashlee, A. A., Zamora, B., & Karikari, S., 2017, p. 89-104)

  • Speaking

    The opportunity to show up wholly and vulnerably through speaking and sharing my truth with others is a profound privilege that I relish deeply. My approach to speaking engagements is story-centered, which simply means that I offer authentic anecdotes from my own life to inspire and invite reflections, connections, healing, and expansive perspectives on liberation.


    One of my greatest joys is to be in community with others. I love inviting authenticity and stewarding the raw energy that springs to life when people feel seen and heard by one another. In facilitating group processes, day-long workshops, or extended curriculum, I prioritize vulnerability and connection by scaffolding new insights through identity interconnections. In exploring commonalities and differences between and across groups, I encourage expansive, affective-relating that fosters reflexivity, empathy, and allyship.


    Aeriel is a powerful listener, engager, and facilitator of difficult dialogues. Over the past 11 years, I have seen her confidently address hard issues through love and compassion. She is keenly aware of her own identities and fosters a warm environment to encourage people to develop their voices and passions. I appreciate her authenticity and vulnerability and how she centers stories in efforts to help people heal.

    Stephen John Quaye, Ph.D., Professor, Ohio State University



    Aeriel is a scholar-leader who consistently demonstrates a personal commitment to creating meaningful relationships with students, colleagues, and community members. I highly recommend Aeriel for her ability to build relationships across difference and inspire others.

    Kristan Cilente Skendall, Ph.D., The Aspen Institute



    Aeriel is incredibly inspiring. I just finished reading her book VITAL and I feel a new sense of motivation, validation, and empowerment as a social justice advocate. I am also a transracial adoptee and Aeriel provided me a real sense of representation that I did not realize I needed. I felt heard by Aeriel, and VITAL gave me clarity about my journey as an advocate and my intersectional identity.

    Anna Smith, Undergraduate Student, University of Cincinnati



    Aeriel's writing, teaching, and communal engagement courageously confront the silences, toxicity, and pains that wound individuals and divide communities. In the long and protracted struggle for healing and liberation, Aeriel, who dares to imagine freedom, is the type of critical hope that our bruised and bleeding world so desperately needs.

    Wilson Kwamogi Okello, Ph.D.

    Assistant Professor, Penn State University

  • Let's Connect

    I'd love to talk about how we might work together.