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.

Senior Communications Officer

Department: ASCEND
Location: Washington, DC

The Aspen Institute

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.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

To achieve our mission of a more free, just, and equitable society, we commit to working proactively to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our myriad endeavors such as the recruitment, compensation, training, and advancement of staff. The best people-serving institutions make this commitment, and we seek to be a leader in the ways that we do so and learn from others. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment and recent actions taken toward building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute is a catalyst and convener for systems, policy, and social impact leaders who are working to create a world where every family passes a legacy of prosperity and well-being from one generation to the next. We co-create and elevate innovative two-generational (2Gen) approaches to forge pathways to educational success and economic mobility for children and the adults in their lives. 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. All our work is centered in gender and racial equity,

The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship is Ascend’s signature leadership development program. When it comes to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty and making a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families, we bet on well-connected, visionary, courageous leaders to get the job done. The Ascend Fellowship is an investment in leaders with “quantum leap” ideas 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

In 2022, Ascend will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Fellowship program with a network of 100 leaders across the country, including elected officials, entrepreneurs, and non-profit CEOs as well as college presidents and social justice activists and the 6thcohort of Fellows.

Basic Function:

In this role, you will serve as a strategic communications counselor, collaborative leader, and a compelling content creator. This is a newly created position designed to help Ascend capture, package, and disseminate the breakthrough policy and community “wins” achieved by our Fellows and to expand the reach of this transformational fellowship. Ascend’s Senior Communications Officer will design and implement a strategic campaign to significantly increase the visibility of the Ascend Fellowship program and showcase the impact Ascend Fellows and Alumni are making in their communities as well as the transformation they’re leading nationally. Working closely with our Communications and Fellowship teams (~10 team members) as well as communications counterparts within Fellow organizations, the Aspen Institute, and funding partners, you’ll surface, shape and share stories through a digitally savvy, multimedia content and channel strategy. The 10th anniversary celebration should generate and drive momentum among prospective Fellows, donors, partners and the general public.

You will draw on the intellectual, convening resources and multi-media platform of the Aspen Institute to expand and advance the conversation around solutions for families with low incomes. In this role, you will have the opportunity to develop and deepen partnerships in our target audience segments (policy, practice, philanthropy and media).

The ideal candidate has a proven ability to break through the noise, possesses strong storytelling skills, and has the ability to respond rapidly to “catch the story.” Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential. You communicate in a clear, concise, and engaging manner with a variety of audiences and across different mediums. You understand the critical role communication plays in driving policy, system, and mindset change. You know how to “look around the corner” for opportunities and potential challenges and revel in working with diverse, mission-driven leaders. You bring a deep commitment to social justice, racial and gender equity, and respect for lived experience.

While we have a strong preference for someone with proximity to the Washington, DC office, we are open to someone working remotely, as long as they are open to periodic travel to DC, Aspen, CO, and other locations as requested.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

Tell Our Stories:

  • Design a multi-pronged, multimedia campaign that showcases the Ascend Fellowship program’s proven track record of building leadership capacity to transform systems, policies and practices to achieve tangible, sustainable results for children and families;
  • Work cross-functionally to surface, shape and share compelling stories that promote and amplify the impact, innovation and influence of Ascend Fellows and the Fellowship, as well as our funders/partners across a variety of channels;
  • Demonstrate proficiency in using both “high tech and high touch” modes of communication. Contribute to knowledge management and continuous improvement efforts for Ascend’s communications function; develop and maintain communications, audience, and impact tracking systems;
  • Write and edit materials, including for Ascend convenings, digital channels, and policy publications;
  • Serve as primary content manager and editor for the Fellowship website and social media content on relevant issues;
  • Develop talking points, briefing materials, and draft op-eds for Ascend’s leaders, as requested.

Amplify Our Impact:

  • Increase visibility and influence of Ascend Fellowship and individual Fellows/Alumni across a variety of audience-appropriate multi-media channels;
  • Help frame and disseminate important field resources to advance thought leadership and innovation in the field;
  • Identify and implement opportunities to leverage Ascend cross-program policy/systems impact, innovation, products, etc.;
  • Leverage the Aspen Institute’s communications team’s expertise and assets, outside consultants (e.g. photographer, videographer, etc.), and media relationships to advance Ascend’s communications goals; and
  • Coach/train our Ascend Fellows in strategic communications and storytelling.

Knowledge, Education, and Experience:

  • 7+ years of experience in the strategic communications and media relations field (e.g. journalism, digital media, film, and/or other related narrative or strategic communications), including digital and multimedia publication experience
  • Communications savvy and tenacity, with a strong track record of high-impact narrative development that appeals to and engages audiences across sectors
  • Proficiency with web content tools and other applications
  • A self-starter who is comfortable in an entrepreneurial environment
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as well as Ascend’s mission of developing leaders and advancing practice and policy solutions for children and families with low incomes
  • Experience developing and implementing a variety of successful multi-media campaigns with an ability to measure the impact of our communications activities
  • Willingness and ability to travel (occasionally)

To Apply

Visit our career page at Work at the Aspen Institute | The Aspen Institute and follow the instructions for uploading your cover letter, communication sample, and resume.

All interested applicants must submit all three: cover letter, work sample, and resume. Cover letter should highlight the applicant's qualifications and share why this exceptional opportunity is a strong fit. The communications sample is an opportunity to show versus tell about a candidate’s work. The sample can be a relevant article, case study, interview, video, or surprise us. Applications without resume, cover letter, and sample of work 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 a high performance culture. Candidate must also have the ability to meet the regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.

The Institute has implemented a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for all employees who will work at one of our physical locations, attend any of our in-person events or travel on behalf of the Institute. Staff unable to be vaccinated may request an exemption under certain circumstances.

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.

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