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Ashley Patterson, one of D.C.'s '50 Most Beautiful People,' focuses on brainy issues

The Hill named Ashley Patterson, formerly of Treasure Island, one of Washington’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” The former Junior Sungoddess will become a spokeswoman for Ameresco, a green energy firm.

LARA CERRI | Times

The Hill named Ashley Patterson, formerly of Treasure Island, one of Washington’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” The former Junior Sungoddess will become a spokeswoman for Ameresco, a green energy firm.

TREASURE ISLAND

At 26, Ashley Patterson was recently named one of Washington's "50 Most Beautiful People" by The Hill magazine ¶ Flash back to 2001, when Patterson, then a junior at Admiral Farragut Academy, was crowned Junior Sungoddess in the Festival of States scholarship program. ¶ Patterson is diplomatic about her continued accolades for brains and beauty, politely insisting she'd rather focus on the former. The Hill pointed out that the Treasure Island native is a fierce multitasker enamored of Washington's political culture. For fun, she devours historical fiction while strolling along the Potomac River.

After working as a White House reporter for Belo Corp., Patterson was a spokeswoman for Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas. Now she has put that job and master's degree studies in counterterrorism at National Defense University on hold to take a job as a spokeswoman for Ameresco, a green energy firm. ¶ We chatted with her during a recent visit home.

What do you think about being placed among the capital's "most beautiful"?

I think it's a good opportunity to shine some light on individuals in Washington who are trying to make a difference. There's so much young talent in Washington. … I view it as a positive, but it's much less about "beautiful" and much more about sharing my story.

How did Admiral Farragut shape you?

I started the seventh grade there as a boarding student. I was very active. My senior year I was battalion commander. That was something I worked at really hard. … The school motto is "success is never accidental," and it's really true. When you go to a school like that you learn that when an opportunity is in front of you, pursue it. You also learn, fundamentally, the difference between right and wrong. I credit that with a lot of what I've done since graduating in 2002.

I was the first young woman to do (the Sungoddess pageant) who was from Admiral Farragut. The school had only turned coed five or six years before. As a Sungoddess, you're really like a young ambassador for the city. I really used that as a way to open doors for me in the community and establish some relationships.

I was a state Senate page for Jim Sebesta. I always kind of had the political bug in me. I was involved in Girls State (a mock Legislature program of the American Legion Auxiliary) while a junior in high school. I wanted to be the lobbyist just because it was something I didn't know a lot about. It's really funny because now in Washington I've gone from being the news producer, the reporter, the (congressional aide), and now I am going into public relations for a green energy company.

Your father and grandfather are veterans. How did they influence your choices?

I have an outstanding mother, too. My family has always been my support system. My grandfather was in the 101st Airborne (Army), and he jumped on D-Day. He was a paratrooper. He was definitely an inspiration to me. … My father's service inspired me, too. He was 17 when he went off to serve the country as a Marine in Vietnam. My mother was a political science major in college back in the '60s.

It sounds like you're headed for public service.

You think so? (Laughs). I don't think you can rule anything out. You know, I wouldn't have left the government sector for anything. But going into the clean energy field I think is pretty unique. We'll see what the future holds.

How does home look now that you've come back for a visit?

Even though I live in Washington, I intend to always keep roots here in Tampa Bay. I still enjoy coming home to the house I grew up in since the sixth grade. … The one thing I don't want to see change is the charm of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay. That's the one best part of growing up here. I was in Girl Scouts. I was in summer camp. I would go to the beaches on the weekend. That's what I don't want to see change.

Reach Luis Perez at (727) 892-2271 or lperez@sptimes.com.

Ashley Patterson, one of D.C.'s '50 Most Beautiful People,' focuses on brainy issues 08/14/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 14, 2010 4:30am]
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