As a former military police officer in the Army, Ashley Felice knew that first responders put their lives on the line every day.
As program manager for SHIELD616, Felice helps outfit first responders with the gear that keeps them safe in active-shooter situations.
In less than two years, Felice has spurred the nonprofit’s growth from a primarily local organization to one with a presence in 28 states, providing officers throughout the nation with protective gear.
The faith-based organization got its name from Ephesians 6:16 — “Take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Felice first started working with SHIELD616 as a volunteer, then joined the organization as event coordinator in 2019. Now, as program manager, she reaches out to agencies, foundations and donors to establish SHIELD616 programs and raise funds for their operations.
One of her goals as she travels to cities around the nation is to help counteract negative images about police.
“One of our purposes is to bridge that gap between the community and their first responders,” she said. “Because of everything that happened last year, bridging that gap has been increasingly more important.”
SHIELD616 helps to do that by pairing donors with first responders so they can connect on a personal level.
“You know, 99.9 percent of first responders joined because they truly loved their community and they wanted to help,” Felice said.
Many police departments have faced budget cuts, making it even more difficult for them to provide the equipment officers need, she said.
“They’re reaching out to us and saying, ‘We need help, we can’t protect our officers,’” she said. “Nobody in any career should [be without] have the basic equipment they need to do their job.”
Felice, who grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, served as a military police officer in the Army and moved to the Pikes Peak region when she was transferred to Fort Carson.
Felice balances her work with devotion to her family. Married to a Colorado Springs police detective, she is raising their five children to value giving back and to see the world without “having a closed mind.”
Felice takes pride in the work she’s doing.
“We’re making a difference, not only in the first responder’s life but in giving their family that sense of peace that their husband or their wife has the best equipment out there,” she said.
Felice shoulders a heavy load at SHIELD616, as she’s one of only four employees.
Her No. 1 professional goal is to continue growing the organization so it can have even more of an impact.
“We want it to get it in all 50 states,” she said.
Her nominator, Kelly Shelton, who worked with Felice at the Space Foundation before she joined SHIELD616, said Felice is “the most self-driven and highly motivated young professional that I have come across. She is tenacious, strong, and knows how to get things accomplished. She has impressed me with her drive and her push to always do something bigger and better than she has done before.”