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Ashley Knox.

Ashley Knox says she is using everything she learned on Elmendorf Street, in the Dominican Republic, at SUNY Albany and the Omega Institute in order to help her move ahead, and help others move ahead with her.

The Kingston native and Port Ewen resident is leading a series of educational and empowerment workshops called “Go Beyond Greatness” geared to both youth and adults.

“The purpose of ‘Go Beyond Greatness’ is to inspire people to bring out their best qualities to achieve personal and academic goals,” said Knox, who holds a master’s degree in humanistic and multicultural Education, and bachelor’s degrees in Spanish/African-American studies and sociology. “Our program offers skill development training for college and career readiness with an emphasis on critical thinking and good decision-making for greater results in academic achievement and life success. [The program] specializes in leadership development, effective communication, and social awareness to motivate people to place passion, pride, and commitment towards themselves and the communities they live in.”

Knox, a bright, bubbly woman about to turn 30, said her mission is to unlock creativity and inspire the greatness in everyone. A semester abroad in Dominican Republic to immerse in language studies, as well as life as a single mom have both helped to inform Knox’s approach to life. Knox also attributes some of her life wisdom to her mother, Toni L. Knox. “She had such a feminine warrior spirit about her,” said Knox. “She said you must go above and beyond what you do. She said to embrace and use it to help others, and abundance will come automatically.”

Knox feels she inherited her mom’s passion for helping others and she credits her father, Robert S. Knox, with her natural gifts for public speaking ability and creative arts.

The programs Knox offers, for both kids and adults, range from community building to spiritual development to improving communication skills. They include fun, interactive workshops like role-playing, music, song, dance, group and individual exercises and hands-on training.

One program, “Millennial: The Next Generation” is a youth program focusing on “millennial issues” that the generation now coming of age faces. Another youth program is “College and Career Readiness,” a transitional education program to support high school students with academic counseling and the building of college-readiness skills. “Mapping My Future” offers academic and career training to help make a smooth transition from high school to the outside world. “Why Not be Yourself, Everyone Else is Taken” is geared to help folks reduce their bad habits and overcome everyday struggles by improving their communication skills and behavior patterns which no longer serve.

Better connections

Knox explained overall, Go Beyond Greatness supports adults to better connect with each other through verbal and nonverbal communication. She said she aims to encourage people to develop flexibility, open up and soften hardened positions.

Knox said she is drawing from her own personal journey. “Struggles I had to find and ways to overcome to accomplish whatever my goals were, and when things became impossible to deal with, finding ways to build up strength and resiliency to persevere … aiming to use personal journey as well as understanding the plight of others, and integrating these personalized stories to the contemporary educational strategies of teaching and learning to provide life-skill development training to help people achieve their dreams and goals.”

Sarah Urech met Knox through one of her own workshops hosted at Northern Dutchess’ Omega Institute during its Women & Power Retreat, where she served as program manager of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. “The retreat theme this year was Find Your Own Strength, and it inspired Ashley to offer a series of workshops to stimulate personal growth and communication skills,” said Urech. “I really enjoyed her workshop on Nov. 15 — she is so full of enthusiasm for life and belief in people’s capacity to enhance their own well-being. She skillfully guided people through a series of exercises and left people wanting more. With her natural talent for community building, I’m excited to see what she does next.”

Rob Moysey of New Paltz went to graduate school with Knox and has since attended Knox’s workshops. What has he learned? “Communication, working with other people, my own strengths and working with other people,” he answered. Moysey said he did some group discussions, working on listening and talking skills. “A big part of communication skills is your ability to listen, and repeat it back so the person feels heard and like you understand what they said. It takes a skill to absorb what they are saying, and give it back.”

Renee Ruwe of Saugerties is working with Knox as her “managing image designer” and said she is very impressed how Knox connects with any person, including young ones. “People are drawn to her, all ages,” said Ruwe, and added their goal is to produce DVDs, CDs, and even a TV pilot of Knox’s motivational speaking and interactions with people. Knox said she would like to move herself onward and upward to become a Vision Fulfillment life coach. “I would support people to reach the highest manifestation of themselves,” said Knox. “The purpose to bring people together to create positive change in the world.”

How does Ashley motivate Ruwe on a personal level? “She is inspiring to me as well.  Her background as a single mom, and she has got so much education,” said Ruwe. “She loves to learn and she has got some great education, and her degrees, and she is always trying to better herself … and I love that about growth and evolving. I love to go to her workshops to learn more and more as well. I am grateful to be a part of her growth and educating others.”

Azriel Alleyne, owner of Kingston Freedom Solar Alliances, said he attended a seminar of Knox’s and learned valuable communication skills through body language, particularly mirroring a person’s body language during conversation to make them feel at ease. “It’s so amazing when you see a person open up by mimicking their body language,” said Alleyne. “It builds rapport.”

For more information, contact Knox at (845) 416-2977. Her website, beyondgreatness.org, will be launching soon, she said.