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.


Operations and Convening Manager, Ascend Fellowship and Leadership

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 centering gender and racial equity in our work. We believe that early childhood learning and care 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. Ascend engages the perspectives, strengths, and resilience of families with low incomes to inform program design and policy development.

The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship is Ascend’s signature leadership development program. When it comes to making the lives of children and families better, we bet on well-connected, visionary, courageous leaders to get the job done. The Ascend Fellowship is an investment in leaders who have the influence to shift thinking, bridge divides, and build relationships over time. We are committed to building a pipeline of diverse leaders positioned to chart a bold new path for children and families by:

  • Influencing policy, practice, philanthropy, and research
  • Building political will and sustained funding for equitable access and outcomes
  • Elevating and amplifying narrative and voices of champions for children and families to influence public discourse and catalyze action
  • Collaborating to increase the impact of the child and family serving leaders and field with a focus on equity

Basic Function: 
The Operations and Convening Manager is a critical position that will lead high-quality systems and event management for the Ascend Fellowship program. Ascend places high value on the art and details of curating an exceptional convening experience, from design to delivery, to achieving our mission. The Operations and Convening Manager will strengthen and streamline systems that enable impeccable program delivery, such as the recruitment, tracking, and support of our Fellows and their experience in the Fellowship, to operational management and coordination to ensure strategic event calendaring, stewardship/optimal use of resources (time, treasure and talent) and to increase our effectiveness, They will be the central hub and holder of building and maintaining efficient, strategic and thoughtful operation of the Ascend Fellowship team to cultivate strong relationship and engagement with priority partners, Fellows, and funders. Convenings are strategic programs that are designed with detail and intention to fuel the spirit and accelerate impact and increase visibility and partnerships in support of children and families. They form an important part of Ascend’s strategy of connecting and aligning efforts across sectors to seed new ideas, facilitate the scale of best and promising practice, and inspire innovation. We prioritize the experience of our Fellows and guests and seek to create high-touch, high-trust, and high-impact convenings. Equity, diversity and inclusion are Ascend core principles and embedded throughout our work, including systems and convening.

The Manager will possess strong operational skills and be able to develop, manage, and strengthen systems that support Ascend’s Fellowship programs, Fellowship-related communications systems, and alumni engagement. Systems include talent identification, recruitment, technical assistance tracking, etc. The Operations and Convening Manager will also be responsible for ensuring Fellowship convenings are executed with close attention to detail, creativity, and care. Convenings include the four Fellowship Forums for each cohort class (over an 18-month Fellowship), an annual convening of approximately 150-200 leaders on the Aspen Institute campus in Aspen, Colorado, annual gathering of mission-aligned Fellowship programs, media, policy and philanthropic briefings and other convenings as the need arises. 

The Manager will be part of a high-performing team of 20. The role is integral to the Ascend Leadership/Fellowship team, which is a subset of 8 staff. Qualified candidates must demonstrate impeccable attention to detail, superior organizational skills, exceptional verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment. Critical thinking skills are essential, as is the ability to exercise good judgment and confidentiality. Ascend operates with a core set of values – agility, boldness, creativity, determination, and excellence. Candidates should possess commitment and experience that are reflective of Ascend’s core values. Successful candidates will flourish as part of a team and be able to work independently with little or no supervision.  

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Systems and Convening Management:

  • Manage and strengthen operational systems that will streamline recruitment, Fellow tracking, and alumni engagement; 
  • Research, identify, and/or design new systems as needed to improve Fellowship and team processes;
  • Train staff in new systems and troubleshoot challenges proactively and resourcefully;
  • Help plan and execute annual convening schedule (and supporting deliverables, coordination of contrasts, travel of curated Fellows Forums, VIP gatherings, and an annual large-scale, multi-day convening;
  • Work closely with Fellowship Manager and Program Coordinator to ensure logistics, timelines, and all other planning details are handled with efficiency and care;
  • Identify and build relationships with vendors to ensure a seamless experience for Fellows and other guests;
  • Track budget expenditures and identify ways to use resources as effectively as possible;
  • Prioritize conflicting needs; handle matters expeditiously, proactively, and follow-through on projects to successful completion, often with deadline pressures;
  • Draft and manage consultant and vendor agreements as needed;
  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of the program and implement improvements as directed.

Shared Responsibilities:

  • Contribute to team-wide learning and knowledge management, including drawing on and contributing to other Aspen Institute programs and resources.
  • Identify opportunities to improve the quality and efficiency of the program.
  • Participate in and contribute to Ascend ongoing growth to advance equity, diversity and inclusion internally and externally.

Knowledge, Education and Experience:

  • At leave five years of relevant experience in operations and event planning, with a track record of effective management, accomplishment, and growth; 
  • Excellent computer skills required, specifically with: Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel (including creation and maintenance of complex spreadsheets), Salesforce, Mailchimp, and project management software;
  • Superior attention to and detail, and ability to manage multiple tasks;
  • Experience and passion for establishing organizational systems to improve efficiency and functioning in a changing environment;
  • Strong customer service orientation: patience, listening, resourcefulness, responsiveness, and attention to detail;
  • Demonstrated ability working effectively with diverse audiences and proven ability to effectively interface with senior-level executives;
  • Experience meeting deadlines and exhibiting grace under pressure while balancing competing priorities;
  • Conscientious colleague who can be counted on to follow-through, close the loop, and deliver high-quality work;
  • Strong, demonstrable communications, outreach and engagement instincts and skills;
  • Thrives in high performing, intellectually rich environment and as part of a team;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including a desire to learn;
  • Ability to handle sensitive/confidential information and represent Leadership/Fellowship team with grace and professionalism;
  • A desire to learn, sense of humor, flexibility, and resourcefulness;
  • Commitment to advancing equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Willingness and ability to travel.

Applications without resume and cover letter will not be considered. 

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.

Level of Authority:

•    Potential to be a supervisory position
•    No budget authority

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