Ashley Cloud is the Club Executive for the Rotary Club of Wilmington, and this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE. Read her story below.
“I grew up in Portsmouth, VA which thanks to the presence of the military at the Norfolk Naval Base and Oceana Air Force base created a very international and multi-cultural area. We were surrounded by history and went on amazing field trips all over Virginia. I was naturally a bookworm and loved learning. I never let my hearing impairment or any other challenges hold me back. I graduated from Catholic High School in VA Beach and headed to Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. I met my future husband and Wilmington native, Andy Cloud, at WFU. We got engaged our Senior year, he secured a job in Wilmington, and my path to Delaware was set. We are celebrating 18 years this year, happily raising our two daughters (Catherine 10, Charlotte 5) in Wilmington.
For me, Wilmington is all about the people and I have met so many wonderful, smart, funny, talented, amazing folks. The common thread for me in my Wilmington experience is the many points of intersection I find with people. One of my absolute favorite stories that led me to an enduring friendship and inarguably set me on my current path is when I met Ellisha Caplan.
We were both members of the JCC who used the babysitting room to drop off our kids so we could work out in the Fitness Center or attend an exercise class. Her youngest son was the same age as my eldest daughter and they were about 2 at the time when Ellisha overhead me mentioning to someone that if I had known how cold and windy it was up here, I might not have agreed to move (in Southeast VA the world shuts down over a snowflake and my first winter here gifted me with 10 inches of snow and shockingly, work and the world didn’t get canceled, lol). Something sparked her to ask me where I was from. My stock answer used to be “the Tidewater area” or “near VA Beach” but she pushed me to be more specific and I said Portsmouth, VA.
She said, “me too!”. We quickly figured out that we had lived in the same neighborhood and attended the same school at one point. My backyard backed up to her synagogue. We were both at the same Tori Amos concert in 1999 and the icing on the cake was that our fathers knew each other and graduated from the same high school! They made a point of sending us a picture of them together at their 50th high school reunion.
Ellisha quickly became one of my closest friends, introduced me to other amazing women, and thanks to her instinct to connect with people paved the way for me to begin my nonprofit career in Quaker Hill and begin serving on nonprofit Boards.
That “one degree of separation” that comes with living in Wilmington is such a cozy feeling to me. I love getting to know someone
and immediately realizing how many friends we have in common. My career path has taken me from banking (MBNA, JPMorgan) to the nonprofit sector and the relationships I have built along the way have been integral to my growth both personally and professionally. Wilmington is near and dear to my heart and where I have truly found myself and “my people”.
Some of my favorite annual events include the Brandywine Festival of the Arts, the Korean Festival at the DE Art Museum, and the Wilmington Flower Market. I love all of our art and historical museums and any special events they host like Thursday Happy Hours in the Sculpture Garden at the Delaware Art Museum. My family and I take full advantage of the bounty of resources Wilmington has to offer.
An ideal date night in Wilmington for my husband and I would be to visit the Art Loop and head to the Riverfront for dinner at Iron Hill Brewery or Banks Seafood followed by a walk along the river. If I were planning an ideal weekend for myself, it would include breakfast at Buckley’s Tavern, hiking in Brandywine Creek State Park, a visit one of my favorite museums like the DE Art Museum or Winterthur, time at the Spa at Montchanin, catching a show at The Queen or The Playhouse and meeting friends for drinks and dinner at Torbert Social.
I continue to choose Wilmington because I love our city! We have such rich history and cultural opportunities. It’s a vibrant place to live and raise a family. And the people are some of the warmest, most wonderful you will find anywhere. I love the friendships and connections I have made here and I hope to continue to build a career of bringing people together and accomplishing good things for our community.
I am excited about how our arts, history, and cultural hubs are using their spaces and voices in unique and challenging ways to educate and engage the public. Our culinary scene has grown and diversified in delicious ways. I love how our community cares for each other – there are endless programs and opportunities to learn, grow, and affect change. And I love that we find ways to celebrate each other via different cultural events, festivals, etc.
My advice to Wilmingtonians? GET INVOLVED! The beauty of where we live is that you can have a voice. LEARN – we have a wealth of resources to learn about local history and appreciate what we have. There is so much to love about our city, it is my sincerest wish that everyone get out and enjoy it!”