Whether at work or during her personal time, Ashley Kawashima keeps her focus on helping others and improving behavioral health outcomes for her home community of Petersburg.

“I enjoy helping and watching people getting their needs met,” Ashley says simply.

Ashley joined the team at Petersburg Medical Center as a behavioral health clinician in May 2021. She spends her days with clients doing play therapy, psychotherapy, or trauma-based therapy. She is there to talk with her clients about whatever they need or want to discuss, and to set goals together. Often, Ashley goes to the client’s environment for their session. She spends time at the Petersburg schools and pre-schools and makes home visits.

Ashley's passion has always been geared towards community and helping others.

During her off hours, Ashley volunteers with several Petersburg non-profits. She is a founding member and the president of Humanity In Progress, a program that focuses on solutions to homelessness in Petersburg. She is a member of the SHARE (Supporting Health Awareness and Resiliency Education) Coalition, which helps agencies and individuals coordinate strategies aimed at changing community norms and attitudes about alcohol and illegal drugs, drinking and driving, and suicide. Ashley delivers meals for the Monday Night Dinners program. She and best friend Shirley Yip spend Saturdays cleaning up trash around the community. Ashley also helped start the Project Connect Resource Fair for people with housing insecurities or the homeless.

“One of the hardest parts of my job is the limited resources for providers in rural behavioral health,” says Ashley. This drives her goal to keep expanding behavioral health opportunities for Petersburg.

Ashley graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor of science degree in human development, specializing in children and adolescents. In 2018 she began a 3-year master’s degree program at Boise State University. She completed a 9-month child life internship at Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland, Oregon, before finishing her internships at Petersburg Mental Health. Ashley will be testing in December to become a licensed clinical social worker.

Juggling work and her many volunteer responsibilities, Ashley finally stepped down in July from the Mitkof Dance Troupe’s board of directors. Dance has been a lifelong pursuit for Ashley, who was one of the first dancers at age 3 at Mindy Anderson’s Steppin’Out Dance Studio. Over the years Ashley has performed in over 20 dance recitals. In 2008, she helped Steppin'Out make the transition to Mitkof Dance Troupe, a non-profit with a student-led board of directors. Though Ashley has ended her time on that board, she still loves to help with annual fundraisers.

Does Ashley have time for anything else? When she isn't working or volunteering, she says, she is baking!