Sabbatical Reflection & Looking Forward

Ashley Walden Davis | December 11, 2019


Dear ROOTS Members,

I am very blessed and filled with gratitude sending you this note just be for my return to work.

To be completely honest, the sabbatical is not at all what I planned it to be, wanted or could have ever expected. What I can say and believe to be true, 2019, including the timing of my sabbatical is absolutely what it needed to be. And my motto for 2020 is “Believe in alternate endings and sometimes the sequel is better!”

Below is a little about what I have been doing the past few months.

Hit a Pause

For about 30 days in May/June, I launched my break with a trip to France with Ivan’s (my husband’s) grandma and took a break from everything stateside. I had a bit of a break from the day-to-day of being a mom, wife and manager. I traveled around France, studied French at the Institut de Touraine, found and met Ivan’s long-lost French-via-Martinique cousins, walked over 65 miles and made some new friends – young and old.

Family Time

Bonus Family! So an unexpected blessing along the way, I have become the caregiver and power of attorney for my mom. My mom’s name is Edith affectionately called Eady (like the ice cream). So you’ll be seeing mom along for some of the rides. Eden, my baby, started Pre-K4 and starts Kindergarten on the first day of ROOTS Week 2020!

Growing with Grow

The joy of my sabbatical was probably working with mother-son duo Liza Garza and Eli Lakes to build their infrastructure and capacity for their artistry. In the last few years as I focused on operations at ROOTS, I found that I did miss the direct work with artists which was the work I was originally hired to do. Not until the very end of my time working with Liza and Eli in October did I realize that all the work we did together was the work that had been done with partners in the Partners in Action program. Some places in the field call it coaching. What I love is working with artists/ people to move their dreams into an actionable plan they can implement.

Professional Development

I spent time thinking about work culture. After managing a remote staff for about four years, I was very curious about how others are working in the arts field, philanthropy, and in the private sector.

To explore … I had some interesting work and shadowing opportunities. I visited the Appalachian Community Fund and Carpetbag Theater in Knoxville, Sipp Culture in Utica, MS, consulted Hartbeat Theater based in Hartford CT, visited the National Performance Network team in New Orleans, interviewed folks from local Atlanta foundations, became an assistant and house sitter for a friend travel therapist and worked a booth at the Bronner Brothers Hair Show.  Additionally, I had personal and professional check-ins with a number of my colleagues and peers across the field.

Finally, I spent time serving in my role as Chair of the C4 Atlanta Board of Directors. C4 Atlanta is celebrating 10 years of service to artist entrepreneurs and the greater Atlanta creative community. As a non-profit artist business incubator founded in 2010, C4 Atlanta serve upwards of 1,200 arts professionals annually through our career development and advocacy programs.

If you are itching to know more about my practical research on work culture and more about what I did on sabbatical, feel free to join me for a Zoom chat on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12pm EST!   You can join the Zoom video conference via computer at or phone at (646) 876-9923 /Meeting ID: 291 719 423.

Looking forward to connecting soon!


Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.