Director of Policy

JerseyCAN 215 260 6100

Ashley Bencan has been a coach, a teacher, a student-athlete, a policymaker and, most importantly, a good listener. Working in the education sector is challenging and sometimes isolating work, however through many different opportunities and great colleagues she has found it rewarding. 

Ashley attended Rollins College where she was a two-sport athlete and completed her honors psychology thesis on ‘Quality Out of School Time Programming through the Central Florida YMCA.’ When weighing the options of a master’s in public policy at American University or Teach For America, Ashley chose TFA. After five years of teaching middle school ELA and Social Studies in North Philadelphia and earning her master’s from UPENN GSE, Ashley joined the New Jersey Department of Education. Over the course of her time there, she impacted the following areas of policy and practice: Recruitment, Preparation and Recognition; Data Reporting and Visualization, and as the Director of Strategic Operations she led the internal efforts to systematically improve the agency.

Ashley currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.

I aspire to be like Reshma Saujani. Here’s why: 

Reshma’s book ‘Brave not Perfect’ nailed it. Life is too short to waste your time not going for your dreams. 

Why I love my job: 

Helping connect the dots across the education sector and trying to change the status quo makes me feel like a contributing civil servant. 

My connection to public schools: 

I attended public school K-12 and my elementary school was unusually progressive (as I look back).  The building design had grade grouped pods with no walls, but bookshelves and rolling bulletin boards, as well as a large common area and smaller pull-out room. There was a lot of independence and trust at an early grade level. I’m now dismayed that so little changes have been made in how we set up our classrooms, our buildings and our school day and I believe it is to the detriment of the teaching profession. 

What I’m bad at: 

I’m impatient with people who choose not to listen and I have zero time for people with fixed mindsets. 

This image represents why I work at 50CAN: 

For my kids – Jackson, Claire and Alex and all the kids that don’t have what they have.