was born April 8th, 1973, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, USA. After studying at Rochester Institute of Technology, she earned a degree in photography from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in 1997. Committed to humanitarianism beyond the lens, while still in college, she made five trips to Romania under the auspices of the Romanian Challenge Appeal, a U.K. based charity, where she spent the equivalent of one full year working with neurologically-impaired orphans in the northeastern city of Siret.
In 1997, Ashburn established the American chapter of the Romanian Challenge Appeal and became its first chairperson. In addition to her volunteer work at the Romanian institute, she also photographed there extensively. These images earned a grant from the National Press Photographer's Association.
Her professional photography career began in December of 2000 with the first of several self-financed trips documenting AIDS in Botswana and Zimbabwe. In addition to her humanitarian photography work she is one of the directors of "Through the Eyes of Children: The Rwanda Project", a charity that teaches photography to Rwandan orphans and support them through the sale of their images.
Her work has been published in many publications, including, Life magazine's special "Year in Pictures" issue for 2001, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, Discover, Mother Jones, D-Magazine, Le Figaro, Liberation and the Telegraph Magazine. She contributed to the "Day in the Life of Africa" book published in October 2002 as well as the «Pandemic- Facing AIDS» book and exhibition published in 2003.
She received the Marty Forsher grant for 'Emerging Photographers' 2002 sponsored by Photo District News and Parsons School of Design. In 2003 she received the 'Rising Star' award at Foto Fusion, third place in the portrait category at World Press Photo, and a first place at the Best of Photojournalism / NPPA in the magazine news picture story. Kristen is represented by Contact Press Images.