Ashley Swearengin receives 2021 Ethical Leadership Award

1024 576 Ed Coghlan

Ashley Swearengin, co-chair of the California Forward Leadership Council, was awarded the 2021 Ethical Leadership Award Wednesday night by the Fresno State Ethics Center.

Swearengin, currently serves as the CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation — a charitable organization dedicated to building stronger communities in six counties in the Central Valley — and also served from 2009 to 2017 as Fresno’s second female mayor.

CA FWD CEO Micah Weinberg praised Swearengin for her unwavering commitment to helping change her region and her state for the better.

“Ashley is, quite simply, an amazing leader who is richly deserving of this recognition. At CA FWD, her leadership keeps us focused on our work to ensure that California’s government and economy work for everyone,” said Weinberg.

Swearengin credits her parents and her grandmother for helping her understand the importance of doing the right thing at all times.

“My mom encouraged me to see that I should not be concerned with the consequences of the truth. She assured me that as long as the truth was on the table, I could work through any struggle, conflict, or challenging time. That has been the guiding principle through both my personal and professional life,” she said.

More from the Fresno State press release on the news:

As mayor, Swearengin focused her efforts on improving distressed neighborhoods, revitalizing Downtown Fresno and promoting job and business growth. She earned her bachelor of science in business administration and her MBA from the Craig School of Business at Fresno State.

“Students at Fresno State can look at Ashley as a leader and role model for them to emulate. Her vision for a better Central Valley and her proven ability to get things done provide a roadmap for tomorrow’s leaders to follow,” said John Chiang, who is the other CA FWD Leadership Council Co-Chair.

The Fresno State Ethics Center supports ethics education across the curriculum including projects in professional ethics, character education, and civic education, as well as research on contemporary social issues, ethics pedagogy, and ethical leadership.

“Ashley provides a great example of how Fresno State students and alumni are working to make the world a better place,” said Dr. Andrew Fiala, director of the Fresno State Ethics Center. “We learn to make good decisions by studying the thinking and behavior of people who have good character — what we call in philosophy ‘moral exemplars.’”

The Ethical Leadership Award was created in 2016 to recognize local leaders and provide relatable role models to students in the Central Valley. The award is given annually at The Celebration of Ethics event organized by the Fresno State Ethics Center, the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Better Business Bureau of Central California.

“Ashley represents the best of Fresno State. With her visionary energy, she promotes a revitalizing energy that uplifts our quality of life in our Valley. As an ethical professional, she contributes to growing the economy and culture of the Central Valley,” Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said.

Those sentiments were echoed by long-time CA FWD Leadership Council member, Lenny Mendonca.

“Ashley is deeply deserving of this award. In the years I’ve known her I continue to be impressed with how she focuses her energy on doing the right things the right way. Her ability to get results for the people of the Central Valley and beyond continues to positively impact millions of Californians,” said Mendonca.

By the way, in addition to honoring Swearengin, three Fresno State students were also honored—and we wanted to note that too!

FSU students Emily Regan, Emily Nelson and Collin Lee will be recognized as the 2021 recipients of the Doumanian Ethics Scholar Award.

Regan, who just received her MBA, employed an ethical analysis in her master’s thesis, where she considered some of the ethical challenges confronting the fishing industry. As a philosophy major with a pre-law emphasis, Nelson’s research focused on structural racism and social justice. Lee, who graduated last spring with a degree in religious studies, examined Biblical ethics, including a case study on the ethics of abortion.

Congratulations to all three students and to Ashley!


Ed Coghlan

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