Pittsburgh Campus
Ones to Watch

Ashley Priore

Ashley Priore in a black top
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Community Impact
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

A rising senior, political strategist and top chess player who’s making bold moves.

Rising senior Ashley Priore’s résumé is startingly lengthy for a 21-year-old.

“In life, we are often told to stick to one path and don't give in to all your interests,” says Priore, an English and political science major in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “I don't follow that advice. I grow with my interests.”

To date, those interests have included founding, at age 14, the Queen’s Gambit Chess Institute and serving as its president and CEO. The nonprofit organization teaches chess—traditionally a male-dominated game—to people of all ages and backgrounds, with the ultimate goals of empowering youths and teaching life skills.

She’s given a talk at TEDxPittsburgh on how chess can be used for economic and political change.

In 2018, Queen’s Gambit hosted the inaugural Pittsburgh Chess Conference on Pitt’s campus in Oakland.

Priore founded the first youth-led and youth-focused campaign strategy firm in the United States, Youth Political Strategies.

She’s also written an entire playbook for youth engagement in the White House for the Biden-Harris administration and cofounded an advocacy group called Our Right to Justice.

Priore has done all of this and more in between her classes, which have included business courses to sharpen her entrepreneurial skills.

Earlier this year, Priore received a Women in Toys Foundation Scholarship Program grant, given to women seeking undergraduate degrees in business, design, engineering and entrepreneurial studies, and she was named to the 2021 class of the Clinton Foundation’s Global Initiative University, a program that engages the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world.

Oh, and the U.S. Chess Federation also ranks her among the top 1,500 chess players in the country.

But don’t try suggesting to Priore that such accomplishments are beyond the reach of most any Pitt undergraduate.

“Yes, you can,” she says. “You’ve already toughed out studying during a pandemic. Now pursue your dreams and find mentors on and off campus to help you fulfill those dreams.

“Do what you love and find ways to turn your passion into a thriving career,” she adds.

What is Priore’s advice for students considering enrolling at Pitt?

“I remember very clearly the day I wrote my application,” she says. “It just came naturally—almost like a love letter to the University. I described how I used to be scared of Cathy [students’ nickname for Pitt’s iconic Cathedral of Learning] because I thought it was going to fall down on me. Over time, I got the courage to actually go inside Cathy and see the Nationality Rooms. I fell in love with that building’s history, story and just castle-like architecture.

“So my advice? Be honest. Be real. Be transparent. The Pitt admissions staff want to hear from you about your passions and goals. They want to hear about why you feel a connection to Pitt. Pitt has so many opportunities, and I'm so glad I applied and attended here.”