What do banking, brewing, and business have in common? In short, Ashley Clark ’09.
Ashley Clark had every intention of living the California life.
She grew up in Westfield, Massachusetts, but moved to Huntington Beach, California—“ Surf City USA”—right after high school. There, she worked in a boutique while earning a certificate in international trade and business at a local junior college. But, before long, she felt the tug of home and family.
She returned and took a few classes at Westfield State University before enrolling at AIC, where in 2009 she earned a bachelor’s degree in international business. “AIC was close to home and offered a good program,” Clark says. “I knew international business would offer good core knowledge for any business situation.”
That educational foundation has served Clark well. As the cash management officer at Berkshire Bank in Springfield, she assists business clients with everything from setting up automated clearing house payment systems and wire transfers to transitioning accounts from outside financial institutions. “I work with businesses across Connecticut, the Berkshires, and Pioneer Valley,” she says. “Every day is different, and I get to work with a variety of businesses from the ground up.”
Clark has also played a critical role in building the Young Professional Society (YPS) of Greater Springfield, where she just finished a two-year term as president. The organization’s goal is to encourage young professionals to live, work, play, and stay in Springfield. With 250 active members, YPS hosts everything from networking and social events to business seminars.
“Without YPS, I wouldn’t be in the job I’m in today,” Clark says. “I’ve met a handful of good friends through the group, and it’s been a springboard for my career. I never pictured myself staying in Western Mass., never mind buying a house in Springfield. But I enjoy where I live, and my family is here.”
Clark cites the wide impact of AIC as a factor of what makes Springfield a great place to live and work. She commuted during her time at the College, and says she felt a real bond with fellow commuters who shared the same classes. Now, she adds, “It’s amazing how many people I encounter who went to AIC.”
Among them is Ray Berry ’92, who opened White Lion Brewing Company, Springfield’s first craft brewing company to go to market. Clark says the two hit it off, and she is now an owner and managing partner, tasked with overseeing the public-facing brand of the company’s new tap room expected to open in 2019.
“I didn’t drink beer at all prior to my involvement with White Lion,” Clark says. “It’s amazing how your palate evolves. I can now identify hops.”
She’s particularly proud of White Lion’s role in rallying the community by donating to Springfield causes and getting people out to socialize.
So how does Clark do it all? “I put good boundaries in place,” she says. “White Lion is a labor of love. I’m also a very efficient person and a strong multitasker.”
When she’s not working, you’re likely to find Clark with a book. She’s a proud member of the Book of the Month Club—yes, printed books, of which she read 150 in 2018.
“This year, I’m behind schedule,” she says. “I’ve only read about sixty.”
By Dara Chadwick :: photo by Leon Nguyon ’16