Written by Ashlea Christiansen
When I tell folks I’m both a lawyer and a lobbyist, I often receive this funny mixture of grimaces with raised eyebrows. It’s ok – I know, both professions have terrible reputations, but I’ve been so incredibly lucky to have advocated on behalf of some of the most deserving individuals and causes.
Now, I’m so excited to continue that trend by leading the government affairs charge at Patient Services, Inc.
Eighteen years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter (who is now heading off to college), I was working toward my master’s in counseling psychology and also working at a rural prosecutor’s office as a crime victim advocate while completing an internship at the local community mental health center. It was during that time that I saw how the systems married. How mental and holistic health and the criminal justice system intersected, and where needs existed in both.
I served briefly as a child sexual abuse therapist until I decided to go to law school in hopes of somehow impacting the system in a bigger way. For several years following law school, I worked for a small practice and then had my own practice doing a mixture of civil, criminal, and family law – but my passion has always been advocating on behalf of those who have experienced various types of trauma. The survivors of child abuse, intimate partner abuse, and sexual assault I’ve stood next to have been some of the strongest, wisest, insightful, and self-aware people I’ve ever known.
But again, there were systemic issues I’d grow frustrated with in the justice and healthcare systems as I’d assist these folks. Yet, I wasn’t sure how exactly to create change at that point other than litigation.
Fate stepped in. One day I received a call from a friend who was leaving his position at a Kentucky nonprofit Medicaid managed care organization and asked if I was interested in taking over as the government relations director. At that time I legitimately knew nothing about government relations. And frankly, like many people, I had a strong dislike for politics.
He talked me into going with him to the state capitol for a couple of days to get a feel for the job and let me tell you…I fell in love. I proudly worked at the state capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky on behalf of Passport Health Plan for several years until the Marsy’s Law for Kentucky effort asked me aboard. That was a challenging, yet thrilling opportunity to pass a constitutional amendment providing crime victims with constitutional rights.
Now, I’m so honored and excited to be representing Patient Services, Inc. I see a distinct similarity between those who are dealing with chronic and rare illnesses and those I’ve advocated for in the past.
When an individual is diagnosed with a life-changing illness and thereafter navigates the healthcare system, trauma is almost inevitable. Our organization exists simply to help ease that burden.
Once again in my career, I’m so incredibly thankful to be representing an entity that does so much good for so many across the nation, and I am wholly committed to ethically advocating to change what I can to make life easier and provide our patients hope and a better quality of life.
*Visit our leadership page to read more about Ashlea and other members of the team.*