Coffield finds home to contribute to Memphis

Memphis Standout profile for The Memphis Daily News

Sept. 20, 2013

When Ashley Coffield accepted the position as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region last spring, it was a sort of homecoming for the Rhodes College graduate.

Only, she didn’t have to move at all.

Coffield had been working for Partnership for Prevention in Washington, via telecommuting, since 2001, but she says, “I wanted a job in Memphis, that was a big part of the decision. I wanted to work in my hometown. … I really wanted to contribute to Memphis.”

Originally from Hot Springs, Ark., Coffield came to Rhodes and was one of the first urban studies majors at the school. But it wasn’t her first experience with the city

“I had grown up coming to Memphis for special occasions and it seemed like a magical place to me,” she said. “I fell in love with Memphis while I was there.”

As a student with no insurance and very little income, she had been a patient of Planned Parenthood and was so impressed with the organization’s “compassionate and confidential” care that she became a volunteer health educator. It sparked an interest and set her on the path of a 20-year career in public health.

After graduating from Rhodes in 1992, she received a Master in Public Administration from Texas A&M University, and went to work in Washington. “I worked for organizations that were really looking broadly at disease prevention and health promotion policy and practices, so I was definitely the wonky policy person looking at legislative governmental policy as well as private policies that employers use to keep their populations healthy.”

Her expertise grew to include worksite wellness, clinical preventive services including their impact and cost effectiveness, and developing policies and practices for state health departments.

In 2001, she and husband Mac, an attorney with International Paper, were ready to start a family and chose to do so in Memphis. She left her job as CEO with Partnership for Prevention, but was soon contacted by the board asking her to continue to work for the organization, though not as a chief executive, and telecommute . . . (read more)