Tompkins Chamber, in partnership with the Tompkins Community Bank, has named Ethan Ash as the June Community Hero of the Month. This award recognizes individuals from Tompkins County who have significantly impacted our community.
To say Ethan Ash keeps busy would be an understatement. In a volunteer capacity, Ethan has served on a range of nonprofit boards & mission-driven organizations including the MindWell Center, State Theater, SimpliFed, Planned Parenthood, and the Tompkins County Tourism Board.He helped raise funds for the Dryden Public Library and is also a partner at AGAVA Restaurant, Empowered Equity (EMPEQ), and Firelight Camps in Ithaca.
Most notably, Ash co-founded the Youth Entrepreneurship Market & Mentorship Program (YEM), along with Michael Mazza, to inspire Tompkins County youth in grades 4-12 to think with an entrepreneurial mindset through experiential learning and making connections with community members.
“Any recognition for the Youth Entrepreneurial Market has to be shared with co-founder Michael Mazza, without whom I would not be running it,” Ash said. “This has been a passion project of ours and an incredible partnership, so if we’re going to talk about YEM, we have to talk about my fellow community hero, Michael.”
Honored to be thought of as a community hero, Ash said he was grateful to live in a community that has so many of them – and that they are recognized for their efforts.
“I appreciate the spirit behind the award,” he said. “I would love to continue recognizing other people who inspire me and inspired me to get involved with public service to help shape Ithaca into the kind of community it can be.”
Tompkins Chamber President Jennifer Tavares highlighted that Ash’s high level of community involvement in so many ways will be felt long beyond his service.
“Ethan is planting the seeds for today’s youth to grow into the next generation of leaders in Tompkins County and beyond,” said Tavares. “His work with Youth Entrepreneurship Market has taught our children how to have an entrepreneurial mindset and shown them new ways of thinking about their future, and how our community bonds can be strengthened.”
Tompkins Community Bank President and CEO Greg Hartz echoed that sentiment, saying the work Ash has done in the past 12 years will have a long-lasting effect.
“There is no question his service to so many organizations in Tompkins County has improved the quality of life here,” said Hartz. “The youth certainly have benefitted, as have our cultural institutions. We are lucky to count Ethan as one of our community heroes.”
As noted, Ash has supported many types of organizations through his volunteerism, but he sees a common focus on their impact on youth.
“I have been very focused on things that can support young people in our community,” he said, “to give them perspective on their choices and career paths that I did not have when I was growing up in Ithaca.
“Outside of youth and entrepreneurial training, a lot of what ties into what else I’ve been involved with is the betterment of cultural opportunities, making the most of the land, the food, and the social fabric that exists in this area,” Ash added. “Getting involved with any public service, it forces you to come up close to your neighbors and break down the barrier that is social media. One of the most valuable things about public service is having a personal connection to the community, and that is something I want my kids to see.”
Ash stressed that this recognition would not be possible without his wife, Rachel Ash.
“I want to thank my wife. There is no way to get involved with your community and take on public service without having someone that supports and helps you, while taking care of three young kids,” he said. “I want to thank her for all of her support and love.”