40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Ashley Kohl

Owner, Ohana School of Performing Arts; Age 32; Education: Wagner College, UMass Amherst

Ashley Kohl

Ashley Kohl

Born and raised in South Hadley, Kohl is a graduate of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School and has danced for the majority of her lifetime. Her six years of experience as a co-host and associate producer of WWLP-22News’ NBC weekday morning lifestyle program Mass Appeal allowed her the chance to discover what fuels her soul and what her true purpose is: to bring joy to people of all ages and abilities through dance. She says her two children, Summer, 6, and Brody, 5, are her heart, soul, and purpose.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to dance on the castle stage in Disney World. And be a mom.

How do you define success? True happiness. Bringing joy to other peoples’ lives.

What three words best describe you? Positive, compassionate, energetic.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? This community is down-to-earth, sincere, and caring. I love being part of a community of artists and big-hearted heroes.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My parents, for believing in me and my dreams, supporting my journey, and raising me to value family over everything — life starts and ends with family. I’ll never forget that.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To make a positive difference in someone’s life. To be kind, always. And to work hard, each day, at building a legacy that inspires people to do the most good and love one another.

What are you passionate about? Spreading a message of inclusion and celebrating difference. We are each born with gifts to offer this world — we need to celebrate each other! I’m also passionate about my children — and all children. Their innocence, love for humanity, sense of wonder, imagination, and boundless energy inspires me every day. While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

What goals have you set for yourself? I want to leave a legacy of love. I want my children to be kind, treat everyone with love, and know they can change the world.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? That I loved with my whole heart and lived my purpose. That I was put here for a reason, and I fulfilled my mission and lived it passionately and fully.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography