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Employee Highlight: Emily Ashby

Emily Ashby is a Trade Policy Analyst for South and Central Asia at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Emily grew up overseas—mainly in Portugal—but her family’s Texas home served as an anchor in their travels. She moved to D.C. for graduate school and before coming to USTR worked in consulting, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and in government affairs at a Fortune 50 company.

Since joining USTR in January 2020, Emily has worked on a wide variety of issues across the South and Central Asia region, and spends most of her day problem solving with interagency, private sector, and foreign counterparts. Her favorite thing about working at USTR is the feeling of accomplishment she gets from “unblocking the arteries of trade—flagging, clarifying, and removing barriers.” She also enjoys working on emerging technology and the creative thinking required to develop, implement, and promulgate that policy.

When asked about someone who inspires her, Emily answered that she is “most inspired by friends and family members who have started a small business. It’s such a brave thing to do, and quintessentially American. Hearing from them about supply chain and regulatory frictions—not being able to source that widget or provide services to that overseas client—makes my work more tangible.”

Within the larger LGBTQIA+ community, Emily considerers herself queer. To her, Pride Month “is a celebration, a chance to turn what used to be awkward conversations into joyful ones.” However, she recognizes the somber aspects as well, as “we’ve seen just how precarious the gains have been.” Emily says Pride Month gives an invaluable opportunity to engage with parts of the LGBTQIA+ community that remain marginalized and to learn how she can advocate for them.

Regarding next steps for the advancement of rights for and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, Emily says that she is hoping to overcome the “last taboo”: being present and visible in the workplace.

She adds, “There’s always a frontier for LGBTQ rights—I don’t ever want to become complacent because I’m secure, but always want to be opening up the path for a wider range of the community behind me. And encouraging them to work in trade while I’m at it!”