Careers at the Aspen Institute
Share with friends or Subscribe!

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.

Communications Manager - College Excellence Program

Department: CEP
Location: Washington, DC

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Marylandís Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

The College Excellence Program (CEP) aims to identify and replicate practices and policies that significantly improve college student outcomes. Through the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, and other initiatives, the College Excellence Program works to improve collegesí capacity to achieve high levels of success for all students, and to eliminate disparities in postsecondary access and achievement for low-income and minority students. All of our projects are designed to improve higher education in four areas: strengthening learning; increasing completion rates, improving post-completion outcomes in community college transfer and the labor market; and increasing equity in educational outcomes for historically marginalized and underserved student populations. CEP is based in the Aspen Instituteís Washington, DC, headquarters.

Position Description: 

The College Excellence Program (CEP) is seeking a communications professional to help elevate the programís work in improving postsecondary opportunity and attainment. Most CEP programs involve learning about what works for student success and influencing and assisting leaders and institutions to adopt student-success-centered mindsets and effective practices. The communications manager is key to these efforts.

S/he will develop and execute strategic communications initiatives across multiple CEP programs and help equip CEP staff to be effective communicators. In collaboration with CEPís partners, including college and university leaders, nonprofit and business organizations, and funders, the communications manager will manage outreach campaigns, synthesize insights from research, highlight promising practices, and above all build and sustain urgency for systems change in higher education.

CEP programs that require communications support include:

  • American Talent Initiative: CEP co-leads this program, through which 100 colleges and universities with high graduation rates have committed to substantially expanding access and opportunity for talented, lower-income students at colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates.
  • Siemens Technical Scholars: CEP highlights exceptional community college programs that prepare young adults for technical jobs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, and awards scholarships to students and graduates of those programs.

  • Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence: Every other year, CEP awards $1 million to the U.S. community colleges that have done the most to ensure high and improving levels of student success, and uses the knowledge gained from the Prize to help colleges nationwide. 

  • Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence: The yearlong Presidential Fellowship prepares aspiring community college presidents to lead institutions to achieve exceptional outcomes for students.

The communications manager will be responsible for developing and executing communications strategiesóvia media placement, professional networks, social media, and other meansóto target audiences in higher education leadership, policy, research, philanthropy, and the general public. S/he will also work to build the programís capacity for disciplined, aligned, and intentional external messaging.

Most of the communications managerís time will be devoted to the American Talent Initiative, including providing communications guidance and tools for the 100 member institutions, and the Siemens Technical Scholars, including managing the process by which partners tell stories of successful programs and students. CEP collaborates with Aspen Institute and external public relations teams to execute communications strategy, and the communication manager will manage these relationships.

The ideal candidate will possess some content expertise in higher education or related fields. We are seeking an action-oriented, flexible staff member who thinks critically and analytically and can translate complex ideas into succinct and impactful communications for a wide range of audiences and purposes. Candidates must also have experience cultivating and managing a large number of internal and external relationships and the ability to engage with high-profile national postsecondary and philanthropic executives.

This position reports to the executive director and will work closely with other directors and program managers. S/he will join a high-performing, mission-driven team and should share CEPís commitment to our core objective of advancing postsecondary access and success.


  • Conceptualize, implement, and assess communications strategies for the American Talent Initiative, Siemens Technical Program, and other CEP programs
  • Efficiently manage communications projects that involve staff across CEP, external consultants, and large numbers of stakeholders at partner institutions, including colleges, public relations firms, and funders. Drive engagement of stakeholders through tools such as webinars, events, and emails
  • Increase CEPís visibility through media outreach. Build and maintain relationships with the media; develop and disseminate high-quality written materials, such as press releases and press kits; and identify opportunities for and support development of thought leadership pieces in social and print media, for CEP leaders and college presidents
  • Collaborate with CEP staff and external partners on social media strategy and marketing initiatives to increase participation in CEP programs
  • Oversee the development of videos and other storytelling products in collaboration with multimedia partners
  • Manage relationships with public relations consultants and Aspen Institute communications team to develop and execute strategy and leverage the Instituteís platforms and other major media channels
  • Lead efforts to develop and disseminate key messaging across CEP. Actively participate in planning across CEP initiatives to ensure that communications goals are integrated into program design and strategy


  • College degree and 5+ years communications or related experience
  • Evidence of effectiveness in developing and executing communications strategy at a mission-driven nonprofit, higher education institution, political campaign, media organization, or other setting focused on strategically disseminating information to build engagement and achieve social impact
  • Proven ability to initiate, manage, and lead projects with numerous stakeholders, guided by a strong sense of strategic direction; strong organizational skills; the ability to plan and follow through with staff and partners in a consistent, high-quality manner
  • Exceptional writing and editing skills
  • Entrepreneurial acumen and drive; ability to see and respond to opportunities to strengthen and/or course-correct program plans to increase impact
  • Ability to work autonomously as well as collaboratively within a small team
  • Ability to build relationships with people of all backgrounds and communications skills, including high-profile institutional and philanthropic leaders
  • Ability to learn quickly, deal with uncertainty, and adapt when priorities change
  • Passion for the mission and objectives of the College Excellence Program and the values of the Aspen Institute


  • Knowledge of higher education or related fields (such as K-12 education or workforce development)
  • Demonstrated success building media relationships and placing feature stories and op-eds, preferably in the education sector
  • Experience developing and evaluating digital strategy, including website and social media tools
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 regular attendance policy of the Aspen Institute.

Applicant Tracking System Powered by ClearCompany HRM Applicant Tracking System