Ashley Leen

Year Joined MKLM: 2013
Country: Tanzania
City: Mwanza
Focus: Education
Ministry Name(s): Lulu Project, Shalom Care House
People Served: Through Lulu Project, teenage mothers and vulnerable girls and through Shalom Care House, children and youth coming from families affected by HIV/AIDS


After graduating from Boston College with a B.A. in International Studies, Ashley worked for the U.S. Department of Justice as a research analyst in Boston, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas. In addition to her professional life, Ashley spent her time volunteering at a domestic violence shelter for women and children, and a food pantry for low-income families. Her personal interests include traveling to new places and keeping a good book nearby. Ashley has lived in several states across the U.S. but considers Lino Lakes, Minnesota to be home.


Ashley was sent to mission accompanied by her husband, Michael, who was also a Maryknoll Lay Missioner. Ashley worked in two ministries based in Mwanza, Tanzania: Lulu Project and Shalom Care House.

Lulu means “pearl” in Swahili. This project helps teenage mothers and vulnerable girls to discover their talents, plan their futures and start small businesses. Ashley co-managed the project, which provided 52 weeks of education for young Tanzanian women on a variety of topics, including life skills, health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and handcrafts.

Shalom Care House is a center for HIV/AIDS activities supported by the Health Department of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mwanza. There Ashley run an after-school program for Tanzanian children and youth coming from families affected by HIV/AIDS, teaching them math and English.