2021 40 Under 40 award recipient: Ashley Ward

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Ashley Ward. Courtesy 616 Media

Ashley Ward, 31

Founder, owner, CEO

Hire for Hope

Ashley Ward continues to be a force to reckon with when it comes to contributing to her community.

A domestic violence survivor, Ward in 2017 founded Hire for Hope, an executive search firm that gives 10% of its profits to anti-domestic abuse agencies in Grand Rapids and this fall selected the YWCA West Central Michigan as its exclusive beneficiary.

Not only does Ward run a business that this year is on track to donate $25,000 to charity, she also met her 2019 goal of having over five employees — she had at least nine as of this summer. She now owns a property at 49 Monroe Center Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids that houses Hire for Hope and extends leases to other single-office tenants.

Ward’s nominator described her as having “an infectious drive and natural ability to get the job done,” with “business acumen and zeal.”

In addition to her business accomplishments, Ward is active in the community, serving as a member of the Grand Rapids Sister Cities International committee for the sister city of Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico — a job that involved traveling with the mayor on a friendship visit to Zapopan. She also is a member of the Grand Rapids Downtown Improvement District Board, president of the 49 Monroe Center Condo Association, volunteers at domestic violence agencies and speaks on the topic in the community, and she was a 2020-21 member of the Mayor’s NextGen Advisory Board.

“Overall, it is my goal to make an impact and be a catalyst for growth and change in our community,” she said.

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