Travel Award to be created in memory of his grandmother
Irvin Ashford Jr., class of 1987 and current trustee, is Webb's newest member of the Burkhead Legacy Society. Through a generous future bequest, Webb will establish a special fund to benefit students. The Emma Ashford “Coming Home” Travel Award will create a permanent endowment at the school to help low-to-moderate income students afford the cost of traveling home during the year while attending Webb.
"I am delighted to be able to help Webb in this way," said Ashford. “This award is named for a very special person in my life, my grandmother. She encouraged me in so many ways. When I was a student, I was not able to go home to New York City very often to share my experiences with my family. A dedicated fund like this will help Webb students who are far from home and want to stay closely connected to their family.
"When I think of where I started and what I do today, I am very grateful for the support system I had and for the people in my life," said Ashford. "They motivated me to take full advantage of the opportunities I had. My grandmother saw what was happening at Webb, and she sent several donations in appreciation of what the school was doing to positively change the lives of young people.”
Ashford's connection with The Webb School began after he was recruited from one of its summer programs, and later, accepted a scholarship from the Boys and Girls Club of New York City and The Webb School to become a student in the 10th grade. He graduated in 1987 and continued his higher education with a bachelor’s degree in religion from Oberlin College in 1991; then, a master's in public affairs from the University of Texas in 1994; and MBA from the University of Dallas in 2000.
He has a successful career in banking as an executive in economic and community development. Ashford is currently serving as Chief Community Officer of Comerica Bank, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. In his role, he oversees community reinvestment nationally and all associated activities, including community development and investments, volunteerism and data analysis, and ensures adherence to fair and responsible banking practices. Additionally, Ashford leads Comerica's diversity business resource groups. Ashford previously served as Comerica's National Director of Financial Education and External Affairs and maintains these responsibilities in his current role.
Ashford remains a pillar in the community, aiding various civic and community groups which includes serving as a board member for several Texas-based and national nonprofits.
In addition, to his role as a Board of Trustees member for The Webb School, Ashford was named a member of Webb’s Distinguished Alumni Society in 2020.
The New York native has garnered several awards and honors for his work in the community during his 22-year tenure at Comerica. Savoy Magazine recognized Ashford as one of its Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America twice (2020 and 2022), branded as the definitive listing of African American executives, influencers and achievers impacting corporate America.
In 2019, the University of Dallas inducted Ashford into the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business Hall of Fame for his contributions to community and economic development initiatives in diverse and underserved communities.
Ashford is one of only 33 business school graduates named to the 2019 Class of Influential Leaders by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) - the world's largest business education alliance. The annual honor recognizes notable alumni from AACSB-accredited schools whose inspiring work serves as a model for the next generation.
The National Association of Black Accountants and the National Black MBA Association also have recognized Ashford for his leadership and support of programs benefiting low-to-moderate income individuals and communities in Dallas.
Ashford was named to the United States delegate class of the British-American Project in 2007. He also is a Woodrow Wilson International Studies and Public Policy Fellow, an American Marshall Fellow and British American Project Fellow.
Ashford and his wife Marisol hope news of this award will motivate others. "This is a gift that we want to make today with the knowledge that it will help Webb one day in the future,” Ashford remarked. “I hope my story lets others know that they can make similar (or even larger) gifts one day to Webb. I would like to thank Ken Cheeseman and the Webb Alumni and Development Office for working with me on this idea about how to give back that I have had for some time."
Cheeseman, head of school, noted how fortunate Webb is to receive Ashford's support. "On my recent visit with Irv in Dallas this spring, we talked at length about the impact Webb made in his life. Irv is passionate about providing opportunities for young people and is always eager to tell others about Webb. Naming this award for his grandmother illustrates how philanthropy connects families across multiple generations. This award honors the Ashford family and will make a difference in the lives of our students in the future."