Ashley has conducted extensive research on and with the Taliban and civilians living under their control in Afghanistan. She has also conducted on the ground research and dialogue with armed groups in an array of other contexts, from Central African Republic to Iraq. She has done extensive work advising governments, multilateral organisations, and humanitarian and development actors on engagement with armed groups. Her research on armed groups began as a Research Fellow with the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, where she led a multi-year project on humanitarian dialogue with armed groups in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
Prior to this, Ashley spent several years as aid worker with the UN, Oxfam and the Red Cross in south and southeast Asia. Ashley frequently writes for Foreign Policy and was named a Foreign Policy Interrupted Fellow. Her analysis has been quoted in various media outlets, including the Economist, Al Jazeera, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and others. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, MSc in Gender and Development from the London School of Economics, and PhD from King’s College London.