Ed Brown needed a little bit of liquid courage the first time he asked his now wife, Ashley, out on a date. The former chief executive officer of The Patrón Spirits Company, chairman of Clear Sports, and professional race car driver had been thinking about her ever since they met in 2013 at a racing event in California. Ashley, a former model and web hostess, was interviewing him for the International Motor Sports Association, and sparks flew between the two. But the moment passed, and they went their separate ways.
A year later, Ed finally reached out through a friend. “I was working in Dallas when a girlfriend texted me saying Ed wanted my phone number,” recalls Ashley, who gave the green light. By the time Ashley’s phone rang, Ed confesses he had consumed a fair amount of wine at his condo in Boca Raton, where he was living at the time. He asked if he could take her out to dinner, and she agreed. A few days later, Ed was on a plane to Texas.
They had such a great time on that first date that Ashley flew to Florida to see him a week later. That date seemed to seal the deal, as Ashley promptly told a friend she was certain they would eventually marry. Sure enough, she moved in with Ed five weeks later, they were engaged three months after their first date, and they tied the knot within a year. They resided in Hillsboro Beach for a while, and in 2021 they moved to Jupiter after building their dream home in the Bear’s Club community.
It’s hard to say exactly why they clicked so quickly, other than that it was meant to be. He’s an introvert; she’s an extrovert. But they share a lot of similarities as well. Both were raised to value hard work and doing right by others (Ed in Colorado; Ashley in Fort Pierce, Florida). They also share a competitive streak. Ed is an avid golfer who also used to race cars, winning both the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring endurance races in 2016 with his Tequila Patrón–sponsored Extreme Speed Motorsports team (ESM). Ashley is a former barrel racer turned model who cold-called her way into emcee jobs with the Memphis Grizzlies and World Wrestling Entertainment.
“When I met Ashley’s parents for the first time, I remember thinking that she was the real deal because of them,” says Ed. “I knew they raised her well and that she had great values. And that made me fall in love with her even more.”
Having such amazing parents is something Ashley appreciates perhaps more than most. Adopted at birth, she knows that being cared for by a loving family has helped shape the person she is today, which includes being ambitious and hardworking. “I hit the family jackpot,” she says. “I grew up really Southern, on a ranch with cattle, and I was super-involved with [youth development organization] 4-H as a kid. My dad didn’t have a high school diploma, but he started his own construction company. My parents told me that I didn’t have to be the smartest, I just needed to work hard. So I started my first business selling cattle while I was in high school.”
When it came time for the Browns to talk about starting their own family, Ashley brought up an alternative. There were so many foster children in the state who were not as fortunate as she had been, and she wanted to do something to help them as a way of paying it forward. “There was nothing in this world that [Ed and I] needed,” she says. “So I told Ed we should start a foundation that helps foster kids. He said he would absolutely support me, as long as I did all the work,” she adds with a laugh.
It was agreed. Instead of bringing their own children into the world, they would do whatever they could to take care of all the other kids who needed a family. In July 2015, the Browns launched the Selfless Love Foundation, a nonprofit that leverages technology to pair foster children with the best possible families. Ed serves as chairman of the foundation’s board and helps with brand building, leadership, and strategic fundraising. Ashley is CEO, handling everything from forging partnerships with nonprofits to mentoring foster children to writing thank you letters—basically, she does whatever needs to be done. “My dream is not to improve child welfare but to transform it,” she says.
Social workers are often overwhelmed by large workloads, making it harder for them to connect eager adoptees with loving families, explains Ashley. Ed points out that there was a time when it was difficult for a family in Miami-Dade County to adopt a child from nearby Broward County because caseworkers were limited to finding approved families within a specific zip code or county. The state’s child welfare agencies simply weren’t connected.
Selfless Love has changed that. In 2018, the foundation partnered with the nonprofit Adoption-Share and brought their revolutionary technology to Florida, allowing agencies access to all adoption-approved families throughout the state. Adoption-Share’s innovative Family-Match technology uses a compatibility assessment created by former senior researchers at eHarmony to better match foster children with a forever family. Thanks to the Selfless Love Foundation, the new technology has been launched at child welfare agencies across the state at no cost to families or agencies.
In just four years, Ashley and her team have helped connect more than 800 kids with potential families and finalized upwards of 350 adoptions. “These kids will never realize what a resource they have in my wife,” says Ed, as Ashley starts to tear up with emotion. “She works 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and will not stop until she finds them all good homes. Selfless Love is her passion, her love, and she will change the foster care system.”
With more than 800 children remaining in the state’s foster care system today, there’s still a lot of work to be done. But Ashley is up to the challenge. “Nothing energizes me more than these kids and families,” she says. “How could I even think about being tired when these kids dream of a family and a place to call home?”
For the older kids in the system, Ashley knows the clock is ticking. Each year across the nation, more than 20,000 kids age out of foster care when they turn 18. Of those, half become homeless within the first two years. In 2016, through a partnership with Children’s Harbor, Selfless Love set up a housing program called Brown’s Harbor in Pembroke Pines, which provides 18- to 23-year-olds with affordable apartments, on-site support, and guidance in a community where they feel like they belong. The goal is to help these young adults transition from dependence to independence through workshops and work opportunities that provide them with real-world skills and experience.
“All these kids want is to be loved,” says Ashley. “We find that by being loving and giving them opportunities, we can watch them flourish.”
Part of that involves providing kids with leadership training that empowers them to become the best versions of themselves and helps future foster children too—by speaking up. Through its youth initiative One Voice Impact, Selfless Love works with kids so they can speak to state agencies, legislatures, and child welfare agencies about their personal experiences within the system to let people know which policies work and which ones don’t.
“What we see a lot is that adults and legislators are not engaging with the actual people being impacted,” says Ashley. “We are teaching these youths how to advocate for themselves and offer solutions on how to make the [child welfare] system better. Now adults are listening. How empowering is it for these kids to feel like they have a seat at the table and use their lived experience to make a recommendation? I get text messages from some of these kids saying, ‘For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a voice and people want to hear me.’”
For Ashley and Ed, who have poured their hearts and souls into Selfless Love, witnessing these children speak their truth and soar is indescribably gratifying. The next step is spreading that love further—the Browns say they see the foundation expanding its work into other states.
Says Ashley: “I know Ed thinks Patrón is his legacy, but I promise you, Selfless Love is hot on its heels.”