Careers at the Aspen Institute
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Aspen Institute employees come from a wide range of backgrounds and possess a unique blend of education, skill, and policy experience. We recognize that our people are our vital resource and we value their knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment. At the Aspen Institute we offer competitive salaries and a wide variety of benefits to our employees and their families.

If you would enjoy working in a dynamic environment and are looking for an opportunity to become part of a stellar team of professionals, we invite you to apply online today.

Program Associate, Ascend

Department: ASCEND
Location: Washington, DC


The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Since its founding in 1949, the Institute has been driving change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities in the United States and around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations to build family economic prosperity and well-being. Ascend embraces a two-generation approach – focusing on children and the adults in their lives together – and is committed to advancing gender and racial equity. We believe that early childhood care and learning, postsecondary education/employment pathways for parents, economic assets, social capital, and health and well-being are the core elements that enable families to achieve their full potential. As a leading model of social innovation, Ascend has been on the forefront of advancing policies, systems, practice, and community solutions. We have built an ecosystem of diverse leaders and multi-sector organizations through a national fellowship program, an action and learning network, and the Family Prosperity Innovation Community. Ascend engages the perspectives, strengths, and resilience of families with low incomes to inform program design and policy development.


Position Description:

The Program Associate works closely with the Associate Director, Network and Outreach on the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community (Family Prosperity) team to support the design, planning, and execution of a high-quality, innovative action and learning community focused on work-family supportive policies and practices. This person identifies and reviews emerging research and policy trends, and provides much-needed project management for the full Innovation Community, including work-family supportive policy networks and aligned activities and publications and communications. They will correspond frequently and directly with organizations implementing policies and practices around the country to support families with low incomes, as well as other policymakers, researchers, and practitioner leaders. The Program Associate will join a high-performing, mission-driven team.  The Program Associate will be adept at logistical and substantive communication and project management with thought leaders, innovators and philanthropic partners to provide strategic support and research that highlight relevant data, innovations, best and promising practices, and timely opportunities and barriers at the state and federal level for work-family supportive policies. Content areas with Family Prosperity include early childhood development, human services, postsecondary education, workforce development, economic supports and assets, and health and well-being. S/he will be responsible for leading the logistics and administration of Family Prosperity, supporting execution of all convenings, both virtual and in-person, and support strategic communications, including web and social media strategy as well as communications to target audiences in policy, practice, research and philanthropy. S/he will be responsible for maintaining contact systems, data management, document organization, and Family Prosperity internal communications. S/he will liaise closely with consultants for Family Prosperity to ensure seamless project management and to leverage the supports for Family Prosperity, promote Ascend’s work and contribute to the Aspen Institute’s overall goal to achieve a free and just society.

The Program Associate will be a key member of the project management team that will implementing the Family Prosperity Innovation Community, which is focused on the expanding a broad range of family supportive policies. This multi-year initiative also includes a regranting and partnership process, policy and message development, and strategic communications.

Who You Are:

The ideal candidates will possess content expertise in the area of family economic security and well-being and have a proven ability to take initiative, leverage external expertise and partnerships, cultivate strong relationships and provide exceptional logistical and administrative skills. Candidates must have a strong track record of prompt and excellent project management, logistical support, and capacity to execute short- and long-term research projects.

This position is well suited for a mission driven, dynamic, high energy and highly productive professional with good judgment and instincts. Ideal candidates should be intellectually curious with strong analytical skills. S/he must be gifted at working with diverse experts and members of the Ascend Network to identify and amplify innovations, solutions and lessons learned in a way that will drive positive change for families with low incomes. Candidates must also possess strong interpersonal skills that foster strong connections with senior practice and policy leaders in the field.

Ascend seeks a detail-oriented, collaborative, results-oriented individual who confronts challenges with a solutions mindset. This position reports to the Associate Director for Network and Outreach and will work closely with other members of the Ascend management team.  S/he will join a high-performing team of 18. Qualified candidates must bring superior commitment and skills in project management, logistics, planning, writing, and teamwork. Ascend operates with a core set of values – agility, boldness, creativity, determination, and excellence. Candidates should possess both commitment and experience that are reflective of Ascend’s core values and racial and gender equity.


Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community, and Program Development

  • Support design and development of robust grantmaking and convening design strategy for innovation community focused on work-family supportive policies, including but not limited to paid leave, child care access, lactation policy, employer feedback loops, innovations in public-private partnerships with workers with low wages, etc.;
  • Provide logistical and administrative support for the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community. This includes event planning and management for forums, contact and systems management, travel assistance and communications support, and research support;
  • Identify ways to strengthen systems for identification of partners, budgeting, event planning, new partner engagement, and project management;
  • Contribute to tracking and amplification of Family Prosperity impact;
  • Manage relationships with assigned Family Prosperity partners;
  • Help amplify Family Prosperity’s leadership and identify connections and leverage opportunities across the Ascend portfolio.

Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community Convenings

  • Develop and execute logistical preparation of roundtables, forums, strategic conversations, and other convenings.
  • Manage on-site logistics for key convenings, including managing vendor relationships.
  • Prepare guidance to colleagues on supporting convening logistics and outreach.
  • Manage complex vendor relationships including contracts and RFPs.
  • Research and summarize briefing materials for meetings, conferences, and events.
  • Research and analyze issues of interest for reports, briefs, or other needs.
  • Act as first point of contact for outside inquires. Handle written, telephone, and internet requests for information; draft, edit, and produce correspondence as required, including correspondence that is sometimes confidential.
  • Develop dynamic PowerPoint presentations upon request.



Centralized Team Responsibilities


  • Contribute to Ascend’s internal and external work around equity, inclusion, and identity;
  • Work with program staff to support tracking of technical assistance efforts;
  • Assist with data collection and synthesis for submission to Ascend evaluator and for inclusion in grant reports;
  • Prioritize conflicting needs; handle matters expeditiously, proactively, and follow through on projects to successful completion, often with deadline pressures;
  • Provide logistical support for briefings, forums, roundtables, and other convenings;
  • Support program staff in maintaining organized electronic and hard copy filing systems;
  • Support program staff in maintaining a contacts database and quality control of data entered; 
  • Prepare and submit RFPs for invoices that have been reviewed by the program staff managing contracts and vendor relationships and liaise with accounting department to ensure timely payments;
  • Participate in various planning and budget processes as necessary;
  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of the program and implement improvements as directed.

Knowledge, Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s degree preferred but not required; at least three years of experience in administrative, logistics, communications, and research support, preferably in the nonprofit sector;
  • Strong interest in and passion for economic and social justice issues, including work-family supportive policies like paid leave and child care;
  • Ability to operationalize a racial-equity lens in one’s work, including demonstrated capacity to support and promote a racial-equity lens in prior work;
  • Excellent computer skills required, specifically, expertise with: Salesforce, Microsoft Outlook (including managing multiple, complex calendars), Microsoft Excel (including creation and maintenance of complex spreadsheets); and Microsoft PowerPoint (including development of dynamic PowerPoint presentations);
  • Superior attention to detail and ability to manage multiple tasks;
  • Experience establishing and maintaining strong process and organizational systems to improve efficiency and functioning in a changing environment;
  • Strong customer service orientation: patience, listening, resourcefulness, responsiveness, and attention to detail;
  • Ability to work with diverse audiences and proven ability to effectively interface with senior-level executives;
  • Experience meeting deadlines while balancing multiple projects, including calendar management, travel arrangements, and event planning coordination;
  • Strong, demonstrable writing and editing skills;
  • Creative problem-solving skills and professional and polished interpersonal skills;
  • A desire to learn, sense of humor, flexibility, and resourcefulness.


To Apply:

All interested applicants must submit a cover letter, resume and writing sample. Cover letter should highlight applicant’s specific qualifications for this position. Applications without cover letter and writing sample may not receive full consideration.

The Aspen Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all District and federal laws. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or protected veteran or disabled status and will not be discriminated against.

Candidate must have the ability to work under pressure and handle stress. Candidate must also have the ability to meet the regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.


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