Student Spotlight

Ashlie White

Chief Strategy and Programs Officer - Amputee Coalition

Residence: North Carolina, USA Nationality: USA

Class of 2024

Prosthetics are in Ashlie White’s DNA, but it took a couple of years into her initial career as a journalist for that gene to express itself. Currently chief strategy and programs officer of the nonprofit Amputee Coalition support and advocacy group, White was raised by parents in the healthcare field—specifically, her father is a prosthetist, having trained at NYU. “I never knew a world without individuals who were missing limbs. I have known their struggles for access to care, but it wasn’t until my 20s that I really understood the potential to make a difference,” she said.

“I wanted to do something to help those who couldn’t receive the care they needed. Advocacy is all about the story, so my journalism background created a natural alignment with my advocacy work for the limb loss and limb difference population.”

White made the jump from journalism to the prosthetics field working in development and operations for a North Carolina-based prosthetics and orthotics services firm, then shifted into advocacy and a series of management roles for state and national trade associations.

While at her previous organization and prior to applying for the NYU MSHLS program, White had just completed a graduate certificate program in public health at University of North Carolina. “Through that program I gained a much more comprehensive understanding of population health and the challenges facing underserved communities, which I had been exposed to in my role as a health policy director, and as a lobbyist, but I still felt that in order to make a meaningful difference in healthcare, I needed to better understand the law. Having a good idea about the way something should work rarely translates into good policy, but being able to approach ideation from a place of understanding how the systems work is the sweet spot.”

For patients needing prosthetics, the US healthcare system can be especially confounding, White said. “The systemic challenges that plague every aspect of healthcare have a disproportionate impact on people living with disabilities and those who have experienced amputations or were born with limb differences.”

The MSHLS “gives me the skills I need to approach my work more strategically. Every reading, every assignment, and every discussion have been applicable to my role as a leader in my organization and as a healthcare lobbyist for an advocacy organization. The work consistently brings us to the intersection of health law and healthcare strategy, and it is a fascinating study on applied learning. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but I know that this program will give me a new set of tools to use in tackling as many of these challenges as I can for as long as I am able to do this work.”