Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Moving to a New Blog

Hi, friends,
I'm moving to a new blog at:


Please connect with me there!

Many thanks,
Ashley

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Junior Achievement of Central Florida, Inc. Blog Post

Check out my post on the Junior Achievement of Central Florida, Inc. blog about the new Junior Achievement Academy for Leadership and Entrepreneurship at Oak Ridge High School!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Need a speaker? Meet my mentor, Rod!

A few weeks ago I was begging everyone I know to vote for me for the Unity Journalists' New U business pitch competition. If you voted or helped spread the word, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

I won the online vote, and am waiting to find out my score from a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs. Their score counts as 2/3 of my total score ... if I win, I get $10k in seed money for my writing company.

The program I participated in was wonderful in every way. During the program, each contestant was matched with a mentor.

My mentor was AMAZING! His name is Rod Colon, and he's a master networker, executive/career coach, author and radio show host. Based in New Jersey, he worked for JP Morgan on Wall Street for many years as an executive recruiter before launching his own company in 1997. He has traveled all over the world helping students and professionals navigate their career.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had an opportunity to attend college and benefit from all of the resources available -- including lectures and programs on campus, my school's career resource center, etc.

Following a magazine layoff in 2008, I became a career advice junkie and still follow a ton of career blogs to this day to try to stay proactive in my professional growth.

Even with all of these opportunities, I can tell you that I have learned SO MUCH from Rod since I met him in October. Even with all of the resources available to me, there was/still is so much I never knew about networking.

Rod has changed my life. Every Tuesday, we have a standard mentorship call in which we discuss business/career strategies, opportunities, etc. I'm really grateful to have met him,
and I feel the need to pay it forward.

As a young woman, I wasn't always comfortable negotiating salaries, tooting my own horn, or taking credit for my work.

Rod has taught me so much in such a short time. I'm talking insider secrets from his experience on Wall Street -- a world that someone like me, the granddaughter of Mexican migrant farm workers, would never have access to.

If your school, company, organization, church, etc. needs a dynamic speaker to empower you ... Rod is your guy. And no, I'm not getting paid to say this or paid for speaking engagements he acquires.

I'm saying this because he's that good.

I'm saying this because I believe his message is too good ... too essential ... to keep to myself.

I'm saying this because I know that you WILL benefit from hearing him.

Want to meet him? Here's his contact info:

Rod Colón
Master Networker, Professional Development, Executive Coach, Speaker, Author
Weekly Co-Host of Radio Show "YOUR CAREER IS CALLING"
732-367-5580

Also, I just finished reading a great book on networking that Rod suggested to me. It's called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, and I highly recommend it!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Want to help create jobs? Help my start-up!

Entrepreneurship is the way to economic recovery. Help a start-up hire talent!

You could help me win $10,000 in seed money for my start-up, Ashley Cisneros, Inc., which will help me hire talent and launch an aggressive marketing campaign to take the company to the next level. I specifically seek to hire displaced journalists, and help them develop the entrepreneurial skills needed to profit from their gifts.

I was selected as one of 14 Fellows in the Unity NewU initiative, a program for news entrepreneurs of color, generously supported by the Ford Foundation. With your help, I can hire, and even create much-needed jobs!

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR ME


You can vote for me as many times as you wish through midnight on Jan. 3, 2012. You just have keep going to this site and clicking the Vote Now! link at the bottom. Please share this info with your colleagues, friends and family, and anyone who may be interested in supporting entrepreneurship! Thanks a million!







About Ashley Cisneros, Inc.

Ashley Cisneros, Inc. is based upon the belief that each person has a story to tell, and talents to share – and profit from. You can have the best credentials, most innovative product or service, or groundbreaking news, but if no one knows about it, there’s little value. Words do more than communicate, words can really change lives.

Ashley Cisneros, Inc. helps individuals and companies leverage the selling power of words. The firm achieves this by delivering communication products such as advertorials, articles, speeches, annual reports, sales letters and more. These products save corporations, small businesses and magazines precious time and money while helping engage their target audiences. Ashley Cisneros, Inc. communication products have helped clients achieve key goals such as increasing brand awareness, getting more sales or earned media.

Vote for My Partners, Too

I'm competing in the National Association of Hispanic Journalists fellowship category. There are also competitions in the categories of Unaffiliated and Asian American Journalists Association. I urge you to vote for these fabulous projects in those categories:

AAJA

Cluefly.com. the factcheck desk for the Internet, is a creation of my pal, Jeff Yang. Cluefly.com is a collaborative site for crowdsourced, expert-validated answers to questions about hot-button topics like race, culture, gender and identity. Vote for Jeff here.

Unaffiliated

Dominion of New York: "The Best of Black New York" is a wonderful content site being developed by my friend Kelly Virella in the Unaffiliated category. Vote for Kelly here.

CENTRAL FLORIDA WRITER COMPETES FOR $10,000 IN STARTUP FUNDS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, December 12, 2011

Central Florida Writer Competes for $10,000 in Startup Funds
Ashley Cisneros is THE only Entrepreneur selected from Southeast U.S. FOR NATIONAL COMPETITION

Orlando, FLA. —Lake Nona-based newspreneur Ashley Cisneros is one of 14 national finalists competing for a $10,000 startup business investment prize, the only program Fellow selected from the Southeast and Florida. Four winners will receive the seed money from the New U: News Entrepreneurs Working Through UNITY initiative, a competitive program for journalists of color who want to become entrepreneurs.

“I’m grateful to live in a country where you can make something profitable out of nothing if you work hard and take smart risks,” said Cisneros, 29. “This seed money means opportunity, and will help me hire more writers to meet demand. I want to create jobs.”

A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, tech writer, marketing manager and PR practitioner, Cisneros helps individuals and companies engage their target audiences. Her company, Ashley Cisneros, Inc., produces communications products for clients around the world. In October, Cisneros was honored as a Fellow at the New U national startup boot camp in Las Vegas, Nev. During the camp, Cisneros was mentored by Rod Colón, master networker, executive coach and weekly co-host of the “Your Career Is Calling” radio show. In addition, she learned from world class presenters Sumaya Kazi, CEO of Sumazi; Harry Lin, executive in residence at Idealab; and Mike Green, co-founder of The America21 Project, among others.

“This was an invaluable opportunity to learn directly from seasoned news entrepreneurs about business plan formation, funding opportunities and gain an insider look at working with angel investors and venture capitalists,” said Cisneros, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of Florida.

A portion of each Fellow’s score will be determined by the number of votes garnered for his or her pitch. Voting is open from Dec. 8, 2011 through midnight on Jan. 3, 2012, and voters may vote as many times as they like. To vote for Cisneros' business pitch, visit http://unityjournalists.org/newu/newu2011/newu11videos/nahj-video-pitches.

About Ashley Cisneros, Inc.
Ashley Cisneros, Inc. helps individuals and companies leverage the selling power of words. The firm achieves this by delivering communication products such as advertorials, articles, speeches, annual reports, sales letters and more. These products save corporations, small businesses and magazines precious time and money while helping engage their target audiences. Ashley Cisneros, Inc. communication products have helped clients achieve key goals such as increasing brand awareness, getting more sales or earned media. For more information, visit www.ashleycisneros.com.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Knowledge Conquers Fear: October is Spina Bifida Awareness Month

You may remember my Oct. 11 post about my pal, Laurita Tellado, the amazing blogger who is bringing attention to Spina Bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth.

Laurita is currently raising awareness (and funds) for a team she is convening at the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida's Inaugural Walk-N-Roll, scheduled for October 29 in Orlando, Fla.

Today, members of social media’s most prominent Latino online influencers – bloggers, business owners and networks – have partnered to educate audiences on Spina Bifida and support Laurita's fundraising efforts!

The Walk-N-Roll Spina Bifida Blog Carnival is being led by another amazing Latina, Angélica Pérez-Litwin, PhD, publisher and CEO of New Latina.

Angélica gave me an opportunity to write a guest post on New Latina about Team Roxy. I also had a chance to interview Angélica for a recent LatinaStyle article.

We need more initiatives like this one -- when we unite and collaborate, big things happen!

Please read Laurita's post below and donate to the cause on Laurita's Chipin Page.
Thank you!
Ashley


**********************************************************************************


October is an eerie month, filled with monsters, mummies, and the macabre. But while the occasional witch or skeleton might freak you out, one must concede that there are indeed more frightening things– like finding out your child will be born with spina bifida.

And yet, each day in the U.S., an average of eight families welcome a child with spina bifida into the world. Annually, an estimated 1,500 infants are born with spina bifida each year in the U.S.

I was born with spina bifida nearly two and a half decades ago. The diagnosis came as a total shock to my family, along with an entire set of secondary complications. I was also born with hydrocephalus, or “water on the brain.” During the first ten years of my life, it seemed I was in the hospital every other week with a bladder infection or shunt malfunction. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t really scary at times.

But then, at age ten, I discovered a fantastic way to defeat my worst fears– knowledge. I vowed I would educate myself and read up on the condition that, up until that point, seemed to be taking over my life. Much like a child who imagines a ghost is in his closet, grabs a flashlight and realizes it’s only an old coat, I had come to the realization that, when you take the time to learn about something, no matter how terrifying it may seem at first, everything is less scary in the light of knowledge.

According to the Spina Bifida Association of America, “spina bifida remains the most commonly occurring birth defect in this country.” Just how common is it overall? PubMed Health, the Web site of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reported in March of this year: “Myelomeningocele [the most severe form of spina bifida] may affect as many as 1 out of every 800 infants.”

As a 21-year member of the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida, I’m doing my part to shed light on this condition by raising money for the Walk-N-Roll for Spina Bifida. When my parents and I moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando, Florida in search of better educational and healthcare opportunities for me in 1990, we found a support system away from our family and homeland in joining the SBACFL. My personal search for a public spokesperson for the spina bifida cause, as well as my work as a current member of the SBACFL board of directors, have helped me find my true purpose– galvanizing as many people as possible to support the spina bifida community.

So, in the spirit of shedding light on a little-known condition, and in honor of October, which is Spina Bifida Awareness Month, here are some statistics about spina bifida that might spook you a bit:



  • Spina bifida is more common than muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and cystic fibrosis combined.



  • Latinos have the highest incidence of spina bifida out of all the ethnic groups.



  • Ireland is the country with the highest incidence of spina bifida in the world.



  • About 50 percent of babies with spina bifida areselectively aborted after being diagnosed with spina bifida.



  • Doctors recommend that every woman of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida up to 70 percent of the time. In spite of this, there are currently an estimated 166,000 people in the U.S. living with spina bifida– up from just 76,000 just last year.



  • About 90 percent of people with spina bifida are also born with hydrocephalus. Many need a shunt inserted near the brain to drain the excess cerebrospinal fluid– and many requiremultiple shunt replacements during their lives.



  • Other very common secondary conditions include bladder and bowel incontinence, as well as frequent urinary tract infections.



  • After the onset of puberty, young people with spina bifida are more prone to clinical depression than most people. Researchers think this may be due in part to social isolation.



Being able to share this information with all of you today is without a doubt the most empowering and inspiring aspect of my life. I’d love nothing more than to give you that very sense of empowerment. Please publish this post on your own Web site(s), and feel free to add your own personal intro that will make it relevant to your blog followers. As many people as I’ve managed to rally in support of this cause, you have an advantage that I don’t–your audience. So, please share this information with everyone you come into contact with.


Below is a video that explains just why the Spina Bifida Association of Central Florida means so much to me, and why I’m participating in the Walk-N-Roll.




I will be raising money online for Team Holdin’ Out for a Hero until October 29th, when we have our Walk-N-Roll event. Donations can be as small as $5 or as large as $50,000. (Yes, I do like the $50,000 better!) Every cent counts! Every cent of every dollar will go towards supporting families affected by spina bifida in 22 counties in and around the Central Florida region and supporting educational and awareness efforts.


Yes, to the new parent, or even to the already-grown individual, spina bifida can seem like a scary thing to deal with. But there’s a power in numbers and a strength in awareness– a strength that gives us the courage to open the closet, shine the light in the ghost’s face, and reduce it to nothing but an old coat.


Thank you for helping me conquer my biggest fear– ignorance of spina bifida.


~ Laurita Tellado, HoldinOutforaHero.org


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Life Cut Too Short -- In Loving Memory of Brent Riley Swygert


Today’s the last day of my startup camp in Las Vegas, and with all the travel this week, I’m just able to post something today about a horrific event that struck my beloved friend Ty-yana Riley’s family. On Friday, Oct. 14, Ty-yana’s gorgeous nephew Brent tragically passed away while playing a choking game.


He had recently celebrated his 12th birthday on Oct. 10, and was excited about his grandparents’ visit to Atlanta. Brent was a sweet, happy child with a joyful spirit. I was able to spend time with him while visiting Ty-yana in her family’s home in Panama City over the years. I remember playing with him while he was just a baby … he was always beautiful … he could’ve been in Gerber commercials. He was growing up to be a very handsome young man … and was always so kind and sweet. I will never forget the anguish of Ty-yana’s voice as she tearfully told me what happened.


The choking game, also known as Blackout or the Fainting Game among other names, is not a game at all. Children and adolescents use their hands, a belt or rope, or have their friends push their chest or neck to feel a few seconds of light-headedness. What they may not realize, is that they are actually cutting off the flow of blood to their brain and the fuzzy feeling they get is actually caused by thousands of brain cells dying at one time. This game can cause serious injuries and even death. I’m embarrassed to say that I know about this game. I can’t recall who I played it with, but I remember someone pushing on my chest to make me faint. It wasn’t something we did frequently, but just something stupid we did, completely ignorant of the dangers.


You can see a news report about Brent’s passing here:

http://johnscreek.11alive.com/news/news/86606-johns-creek-choking-game-blamed-boys-death


He was a beautiful person, with his whole life ahead of him. Please join me in praying for his family in this incredibly difficult time, especially the Riley Family … who has been a family to me since I was in sixth grade … his mom, Sartee, sister, Lexis, grandparents, Mr. Al and Mrs. Edith, aunts Ty-Yana and Sangai, cousins Akili Love and Baby Riley, plus many, many more loving relatives and friends.


The wake is today, and Brent will be laid to rest on Saturday, Oct. 22. As you can imagine, this horrible tragedy came unexpectedly. If you are so inclined, please consider making a contribution toward the expense of Brent’s funeral and arrangements. You can show your support conveniently by making a contribution at http://www.charlieslittleangels.org/ in the name of Brent Riley Swygert. Your gift is eternally appreciated and completely tax deductible.


You can express your condolences here:

http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Brent-Swygert&lc=7127&pid=154177556&mid=4850271&locale=en-US


Or you can snail mail items to the family: 2004 Kingsley Circle, Johns Creek, GA 30022


Please "like" the Brent Riley Swygert Memorial Facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brent-Riley-Swygert-Memorial/306356459378808


You can help prevent the unnecessary loss of young lives like Brent’s through education and conversation. For more information about the myths and realities of the choking game, plus a helpful educational video, visit:

http://www.gaspinfo.com/en/home.html


10/26/2011 Update:

Please see the following news report from WJHG in Panama City featuring Mr. Albert and Mrs. Edith Riley, Brent's grandparents.

http://www.wjhg.com/home/headlines/Panama_City_Couple_Mourns_Loss_of_Grandson_Warns_About_Choking_Game_132566913.html