Ashlea Smith » Past Interns and Staff

Ashlea Smith

Biographical Info

Ashlea Smith was brought on board the Office of Sustainability team mid-2008 to mid-2009 as Research Assistant with a focus on recycling. However, like most titles, they do not capture the breadth of what one does. Her role included outreach, education, strategy development and, of course, research on efficient recycling and waste management as a whole. The opportunity to intern at Mason helped Ashlea determine her non-traditional career path in a niche industry- one which requires far more experience and networking than any B.A. in Government with a focus on Comparative Politics (which she received in May, 2010) can provide.

In 2009 and 2010, her experiences at Mason set her up for success at subsequent professional and internship experiences to include: the DC Department of Public Works’ Office of Recycling’ Material Resource Sustainability Internship (2009), a collaboration with DC Councilmember Jim Graham’s office (2009), and the Alice Ferguson Foundation (2010-2012) who retained her upon graduation as Program Coordinator for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. In 2012, she began working with a small, agricultural consulting company in Fauquier County, VA whose goals included expanding the infrastructure for organic waste management in the DC Metro area, including the development of a full-scale composting and anaerobic digestion facility in Prince William County, VA (which currently under construction at the County’s Balls Ford Road Facility).

Between 2013 and 2017, Ashlea honed her Environmental Consulting, Energy Audit, and Proposal Management skills working with ECORE Living, a DC-based Environmental Consulting firm, and George Sexton Associates, which is one of the nation’s premier architectural lighting design firms. In 2018, Ashlea joined Gershman, Brickner & Bratton, Inc. (, a leading waste management consulting firm in McLean, Virginia as their Marketing Manager and a Consultant where she serves communities nationwide plan, design, procure, implement, and optimize integrated waste management, recycling, and diversion programs.

Of note, it was an early advertisement (circa 2007) on GMU’s Patriot Web of an internship at GBB that inspired Ashlea to pursue waste management. She saw (and still sees) waste management as an interdisciplinary field that combined her science and liberal education from GMU up to that point. From her perspective, waste management is the intersection between chemistry (an understanding of materials and decomposition is a must); anthropology (waste is inherently a human concept, is the product of our daily lives (i.e. the foundation of archeology), and is part and parcel of conversations on sustainability); and government administration (in America waste management is administered at the local government level and is highly regulated).

Her passions are often influenced by her experience at the GMU Office of Sustainability. She was an early member of the NCR Organics Task Force and the Littering & Illegal Dumping Enforcement Task Force with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), and provided early indirect lobbying to help pass the $0.05 DC Bag Fee with AFF. She is an avid supporter for environmentally responsible waste management through a variety of other community and industry associations. Often, Ashlea publishes articles on industry trends and best management practices.

Links to recent articles written by Ashlea:

If you would like to contact Ashlea, she may be reached at

Categories: Past Interns